Empowering Environmental Health and Safety Manager(s): A Guide to Effective EHS Management

Published on:
April 19, 2024
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Modern workplaces prioritize workplace and environmental safety, which affects employee health, productivity, and business viability.

Businesses are concentrating more than ever on limiting exposure to potential hazards for their employees and local communities — as well as for the planet. 

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One outcome of the emphasis on wellness and environmental protection has been the development of stringent Environmental Health and Safety (EHS) management practices.

Environmental health and safety managers are on the frontline of these efforts, serving as workplace safety and environmental stewardship advocates. The EHS Manager’s role is to identify risks/hazards in the workplace and to develop, implement, and monitor company safety programs. 

These professionals help create safe, sustainable work environments that prioritize human life and the planet by encouraging a culture of safety and accountability.

At worldwide level, there are approximately 2.3 million work-related accidents and illnesses per year and there are 6,000 deaths each day from that.

This should highlight the need for a good environment, and health and safety management systems to protect employees every day. In the United States, certified safety and health managers are needed to help implement preventative measures within companies and to make sure that all regulatory compliance is met. This can help provide safer work environments and help minimize incidents.

EHS and ESG initiatives promote a positive work environment and enhance employee well-being while creating a strong safety and accountability culture. An EHS or ESG management system built on ISO standards helps organizations to put performance criteria in place, ensuring policies and procedures are in sync with international benchmarks for transparency, accountability, quality, safety, and cultural, energy, and environmental practices.

In this guide, we will discuss the multifaceted role of the EHS Manager and what makes up effective EHS management. We will also delve into the strategies and tools EHS Managers need to utilize to be effective, keep workers safe, and meet objectives.

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The Role of an Environmental Health and Safety EHS Manager

An Environmental health and safety manager is responsible for developing and implementing policies to ensure that an organization complies with all national and international safety, health, and environmental legislation.

Also, EHS Managers are responsible for establishing policies and procedures that ensure that all of their workers follow safety regulations and that safety policies and practices are cost-effective.

Key Responsibilities

  • Conduct risk assessments to recognize potential hazards in the workplace.
  • Design and develop safety programs and guidelines for workers.
  • Oversee incident safety investigations to identify the root cause and to help forward the future.
  • Monitor and ensure local, state, and local regulations maintenance.
  • Collaborating with other departments to integrate safety and environmental considerations into business operations.

Let’s take an example. an EHS manager at a manufacturing plant might introduce a new ergonomic workstation to improve workplace safety and get ahead of possible worker's compensation repetitive harm claims. In this case, the company would see an improvement in the work life of its employees as well as improved efficiency, production, and job satisfaction

Certifications and Skills

To succeed in the role of Environmental health and safety Manager certain skills and certifications need to be obtained to show one’s expertise and dedication to the field. Being a Certified Safety and Health Manager (CSHM) proves that you know what is needed to be done when it comes to safety and health and that you will take every precaution in that matter to avoid all accidents and incidents.

Key Certification:

Certified Safety Professional (CSP): This certification demonstrates to the highest level that you are competent in safety practices by the amount of professional experience you must have to be eligible to sit for the test and is industry-recognized.

Certified Industrial Hygienist (CIH): carry this certification you should be an expert in Occupational and Environmental Health and Safety to address the many and varied issues and exposures.

Traditional vs. Digital EHS Management

According to a report, the EHS market is expected to grow with a CAGR of 6.2% and the market will grow up to 8.43 billion by 2027.

In today's technology-based world, Environmental Health and Safety (EHS) management has changed greatly in industrial and educational settings. Years ago, companies and facilities relied mostly on manual ways of doing things. 

From an EHS perspective, this meant using pen and paper on all reports, inspections, and incidents and then putting them in a filing cabinet never to be seen or used again. This process of doing things where data was written down and used and then never used again caused a high risk of losing data, misplacing data, and delayed reports, as well as invalid forms.

Environmental Health and Safety EHS Managers now have access to digital tools that help with record keeping, ensure data accuracy, and provide on-the-spot access to safety-related information.

To dig into the subject, let’s look at the difference between traditional and digital EHS management and some implications for safety and compliance in the workplace.

EHS Management Without Software

Traditional safety management systems pose several challenges for EHS Managers:

Manual Processes: Traditional health and safety management can be carried out through manual data entry and paperwork that can become very time-consuming and difficult, not to mention susceptible to human errors, to maintain accurate and up-to-date logs of any safety incidents, as well as compliance measurements;

Data Management Risks: By having safety records maintained in physical files there is a higher chance for vulnerable files due to fire, water, or a simple misplaced file, you name it. Trying to find a specific piece of information within a plethora of other information can also get very real, very fast.

Limited Tracking and Analysis: If you’re an environmental health and safety EHS manager without access to the right digital tools, you’re just rolling the dice when it comes to spotting trends or patterns in safety incident data. Without trending and analysis abilities, you are forced to just ride out the problem and hope that it resolves itself and a similar event never occurs under your watch again.

Here is an example, a company’s safety data is stored in paper-based records. The EHS Manager would fill out incident reports with pen and paper and store them in metal filing cabinets in the office. 

When a similar incident occurs in the future, the EHS manager would have to sort through piles of paper filing cabinets to find all relevant past reports, making it difficult to see any patterns or prevent future incidents. With this manual approach, important records could be lost or discrepancies could be found due to human error.

In 2022, there were 2.3 million nonfatal workplace injuries and illnesses—4.5% more than in 2021

The number of worker illnesses rose significantly—by 26.1%. But when you integrate software and digital solutions into your Environmental Health and Safety (EHS) Management you can flip the script on how safety is handled in your workplace.

EHS software brings advanced tools to the game, providing you with a more effective method than traditional methods and helping you stay ahead of the rising tide of workplace injuries and illnesses.

EHS Management with Software 

Streamlined Compliance Tracking: EHS software solutions automate the process of monitoring regulatory compliance and internal policies. The system automatically alerts EHS Managers of any impending deadlines, policy changes, and compliance issues keeping the organization in compliance with regulatory and company policies.

Efficient Risk Assessment: Using digital tools enables risk assessments to be performed more efficiently and accurately. EHS software allows for real-time data collection and analysis which provides managers with the information needed to quickly identify and address potential hazards.

Centralized Data Management: Digital EHS management centralizes and makes all your safety data easily available, minimizes the risk of data loss, streamlines recordkeeping, and makes trends and incidents trackable.

Mobile Accessibility: Being mobile-enabled, workers can report incidents or observations directly from the field using their mobile phones or tablets. This instant reporting ability increases the frequency and accuracy of data capture, allowing EHS Managers to react and respond quicker to safety concerns.

Better Reporting & Analytics: EHS software can generate ready-made and easy-to-understand reports, which makes it easy for the EHS managers to make their analysis through comprehensive reports explaining the vulnerabilities, incident trends, performance measures, and compliance status. It also helps them to make a better decision by analyzing the real-time data.

Training and Education Tools: Several EHS software packages offer training modules and educational resources to keep employees up-to-date on safety best practices and regulatory changes, and help in creating a culture of safety.

Choosing the Right EHS Software 

Picking the right EHS software is imperative for effectively managing workplace safety and environmental health. Every business is unique and their needs and priorities will reflect that. Here are a few important points to consider, when reviewing potential EHS vendors.

Features to Look for in EHS Software

When choosing EHS software, you’ll want to look for these must-have features:

Real-time data collection and incident reporting: With good EHS software, employees can use mobile devices to report observed situations and safety incidents as they occur rather than waiting until they have access to a desktop. This real-time data collection speeds up response time when an incident occurs. Environmental health and safety managers can also use it to quickly resolve safety conditions employees uncover through inspections and observations. 

Compliance tracking and environmental monitoring: EHS software should provide a mechanism for compliance with regulations and tracking environmental indicators and integrate with other systems to ensure you are alerted when regulations change or when you are out of compliance. Additionally, it should work with ISO’s popular standards - ISO 14001 for Environmental Management and ISO 45001 for Occupational Health and Safety for complete safety supervision.

Different Industries and Audit types may require Specialized Software Features

Industry-Specific Solutions: For example, construction and manufacturing may require software that can handle equipment inspections and risk assessments on job sites, while healthcare may focus on patient safety and infection control.

Routine Safety Audits vs. Environmental Impact Assessments: Routine safety audits may need features like incident tracking and training management, while environmental impact assessments may require tools for monitoring emissions and managing sustainability initiatives.

Integration with other Tools 

Integration capabilities with HR, Operations, and Facility Management Systems: Provides a connected approach to managing safety and health in the workplace. Share data between functions to provide a complete view of safety for the entire operation.

Ensuring Interoperability: This software needs to be copasetic with the institution's current systems to ensure the seamless flow of data, which would allow for comprehensive reporting. Through this integration, data analysis would be streamlined to enhance overall decision-making.

A large logistics company, for instance, may integrate EHS software with its HR system to track employee training and certifications. This helps make sure employees are up to date on safety training, while the EHS software gives insights into compliance and potential risks.

  1. Preparation & Planning

First, assess your current EHS practices to identify areas for improvement and specific needs to further assess what includes these three bullet points

Evaluate Current EHS Practices: Evaluate your existing EHS protocols and practices and determine where digital transformation can provide the most value. Certified safety and health managers should be looking at how and where they can use digital transformation to make substantive improvements in their programs.

Set Clear Goals: Set goals for the digital transformation of your EHS management. Common goals include faster response times to incidents, higher compliance rates, improved employee training, and so on.

  1. Deployment & Training 

 Evaluate Current EHS Practices: Evaluate your existing EHS protocols and practices to determine where digital transformation can lead to the greatest advantage. Look for areas where your data collection, reporting, compliance, employee training, and other practices can be improved.

Set Clear Goals: Set goals for the digital transformation of your EHS management. Common goals may include faster response times to incidents, higher compliance rates, improved employee training, etc.

  1. Monitoring and Optimization

After you deploy your new EHS management solution, continuous monitoring and optimization is important to ensure the software is being properly utilized and is effectively achieving its goals:

 Monitor implementation: According to a recent poll, 75% of employees have confirmed that it is truly important for them to feel safe and secure in their workplace. Continually track key performance indicators (KPI) and the software's impact on EHS practices to justify the investment and identify any problems or feedback. 

Don’t forget to regularly collect feedback from employees to measure the software's performance.

Continuous improvement: Use data collected to make good evidence-based decisions and continuously improve the EHS systems and programs. After collecting and analyzing data, you should be informed about improvements and enhancements needed to the EHS program for better results.

Future Trends in EHS Management 

As technology continues to advance, and businesses place an increasing importance on sustainability, the future of EHS management is expected to be very dynamic. Some of the trends that are on the horizon, that may change the way companies manage EHS, are:

Artificial Intelligence (AI): Artificial Intelligence (AI) can inspect an enormous quantity of data for patterns or trends, which otherwise might not be recognized by humans, and this helps in the predictive maintenance and potential avoidance of hazardous situations and conditions. For example, AI can predict risks or hazards before they become a problem and therefore a proactive approach to safety can be implemented.

IoT: The Internet of Things (IoT) is a network of physical devices that are interconnected. In a workplace, these devices might include things like monitoring the amount of Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC) in the air, levels of noise, and performance of fixed and portable gas detection devices to report the levels of flammable, asphyxiate, toxic, and other gaseous risks thus all aspects of a working environment.

Predictive Analytics: Predictive Analytics is the study of data to predict future events or actions. For example, when it comes to safety, organizations with poor records can be forecasted in advance and therefore they are allocated more resources in terms of audits and inspections.

Sustainability and Corporate Responsibility

EHS management is evolving in the face of increasing corporate sustainability goals and a focus on environmental stewardship:

Aligned with Sustainability Initiatives – EHS practices are increasingly being linked to corporate sustainability objectives such as reduced carbon emissions and waste minimization. 

This type of shift in the dynamics promotes environmental stewardship and also can provide improved branding and improved stakeholder confidence.

 A Culture of Safety and Responsibility - Successful organizations see EHS as a key element of their corporate culture, fostering a culture based on values such as honesty, transparency, ethical behavior, environmental stewardship, and safety. This shift helps to better engage employees in EHS practices, driving towards improved organization EHS performance.


Modern EHS management has a considerable role in the maintenance of work safety and regulatory compliance. Using advanced technology Environmental health and safety managers can have streamlined processes for safety, data collection in real-time, and input that can predict and prevent incidents from occurring promoting a safe environment. 

The large-scale implementation of advanced technologies in EHS has led to a 5% decline in fatalities at the workplace.

Organizations must continuously learn and adapt to stay ahead of the curve in today’s changing EHS world. 

Regularly evaluating your EHS management system and seeking ways to integrate with emerging technologies and industry best practices will help you maintain an efficient Environmental Management System.

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