How many times have you heard the saying, “there are only two things that are certain in life, death and taxes?” As certain as the statement is true and accurate about life itself, in the EHS arena there is a saying that is speaks equally the truth; “technology is EHS’s best friend”. Technology advances an organization’s ability of understanding, managing and meeting regulatory compliance in addition to saving time and money keeping chemical inventories current and accurate.
This article will discuss more about technology advancement opportunities and the weighted benefits for any ESH professional; but before we do, let’s define what EHS is not.
The first item of business is to clarify that Environmental Health and Safety is not:
- The sole responsibility of the EHS professional. EHS is a shared responsibility in all levels of the organization.
- “A flavor of the month” slogan. EHS is a functionality that is embedded within an organization’s business structure such as quality, operations, maintenance, logistics and human resources.
- A quality control program or a maintenance preventative program. The primary focus of EHS is protecting worker safety and the environment from damage or pollution.
- Finally, EHS is not a priority, it is a value. Priorities change too easily compared to value that is simply a core belief and commitment to workplace, community and environmental safety.
Let’s now define what EHS is. Defined, EHS is:
An umbrella term for the development, oversight and management of environmental, health and safety programs, laws, rules, guidance and processes that are designed to help protect employees, the public and the environment. The focal point for environmental, the “e” of EHS, is to create a systematic approach to managing solid, universal and hazardous materials and waste, complying with environmental regulations and to ultimately reduce the organization's hazardous materials footprint.
Specifically, for health, the “h” of EHS, and for safety, the “s” of EHS, the focal point is developing a systematic safety and health management system that identifies and manages hazards that could cause accidents and illness to an acceptable level of risk. An expansion of the “s” within EHS, would include the word sustainability. In the current competitive state of global competition, EHS is usually assigned the responsibilities toward managing environmental, health and safety sustainability efforts. Many of these efforts are focused within third party accreditation safety and environmental management systems such as ISO 14001 for environmental and soon ISO 45001 for safety. Additional efforts include creating systems to reduce energy use, conserve water, reduce solid waste (such as incorporating the zero landfill initiative), enhance communication within the community and additional stakeholders.
Most organizations that strive for excellence within their EHS program and seek to invest and adopt the use of technology to aid in that quest. And why not? With the use of data sharing and data access capabilities through EHS cloud applications and mobile devices such as the iPhone, Android and iOS apps, technology can make the world of EHS management less difficult, more efficient, and nearly effortless. With today’s smart phones the camera can read barcodes and provide a means of easy access to update inventories such a chemical inventory list and access to Safety Data Sheets (SDS) on the go. When it comes to the protecting of the environment, technology, as mentioned above, can be utilized to improve air quality, hazardous and universal waste “cradle to grave” transportation, wastewater and storm water permitting requirements by providing real time data.
The bottom line is that there is no good excuse to not utilize today’s technology to enhance your management capability of EHS. The cross-functional capabilities that technology has to offer is a must for any organization that seriously wants to manage more efficiently and provide environmental, health and safety sustainability within its business.
The more complex your operational processes only increases the importance of using technology to wade through the daily chaos of EHS.
Let’s take a closer look at what technology has to offer within the EHS arena and the benefits thereof:
- Safety Data Sheets & GHS Labels: A cloud-based Safety Data Sheet and GHS labeling solution. Web application and mobile versions for Android & iOS are available.
- Chemical Inventory Tracking: A comprehensive environmental health & safety (EH&S) software solution. Manage chemicals from delivery, storage, use through disposal.
- Hazardous Waste Management: Cradle-to-grave hazardous waste management that tracks hazardous materials from the point of generation through to manifesting and disposal.
- Environmental Compliance: Track, measure, and monitor your organization’s environmental data and processes. A complete EHS system for environmental compliance.
- EH&S Mobile Applications: iOS applications that provide instant access to M(SDS) and hazardous material data on the go.
- Radioisotope Tracking: Track radioisotope acquisition, approval, storage, use, decay, disposal, and regulatory reporting in real-time.
- Facility Safety & Compliance: Monitor inventory, waste, employee, and reporting data for all of the facilities that your company operates.
- Employee Workplace Safety: Manage all aspects of employee and workplace safety including incident and OSHA reporting.
After reviewing the list above, I believe you would agree with me that the list provides endless possibilities and that pursuing the wide range of technology that is out in the market sounds interesting and exciting, doesn’t it. Within the world of EHS there are a myriad of complex government, industry-specific and employer requirements to juggle managing. Additional daily activities such as audits, inspections, training, procedure development, procedure revision, attending employer and stakeholder meetings, seeking continuous improvement ideas, etc. is a constant challenge.
Is there a sanity cure for EHS? The good news is yes! The only effective to obtain and maintain accurate information is to use cloud-based EHS software that are comprehensive, sophisticated, yet provide simplistic operation. This technology is readily available and will serve you as a means to manage the chaos of the everyday activities previous mentioned.
For more information on the various types of comprehensive EHS software that is available and the functionality that it offers, click on this link https://chemicalsafety.com/chemical-inventory-risk-sustainability/.