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7 Challenges an EHS Specialist Faces and How to Overcome Them

EHS specialists at work

An EHS specialist plays an integral role in any organization. Their scope of responsibility is large and includes (but is not limited to): conducting safety audits, developing safety plans, investigating incidents, collaborating with stakeholders to achieve safety goals, and developing and managing EHS safety programs.

These responsibilities help to keep employees safe and their company compliant with regulations. A complex role like this doesn’t come easy, rather, it comes with several challenges.

This article discusses some of the most common challenges an EHS specialist often encounters, along with potential solutions to overcome them.

Common Challenges an EHS Specialist Encounters in the Workplace

1. Navigating the Complex and Changing Regulatory Landscape

Challenge: An EHS expert must stay updated on changing compliance rules at local, national, and global levels. This needs constant watchfulness and the skill to stay updated with their industry.

Navigating through legal frameworks and understanding updates and how they affect their business can be time-consuming and resource-intensive. Moreover, non-compliance can be devastating to any company, which could involve legal repercussions, financial implications, and reputational damage.

Solution: The EHS specialist must develop airtight strategies to stay informed of new and evolving regulations. They also need to establish a flexible system to maintain compliance in this complex environment. This requires consistent communication with all stakeholders.

2. The Details are in the Data

Challenge: When it comes to measuring safety, data is everything. One of the many responsibilities of an EHS specialist is to collect data on all aspects of safety including incidents, inspections, and compliance. Because the data is vast and complex, it can be overwhelming.

Solution: The key to managing and interpreting data with ease is to implement data analytics tools to streamline information, prioritize critical issues, and gain actionable insights for informed decision-making. The right tool will help EHS professionals collect the data that is most important for their business and then interpret and report that information to stakeholders with confidence.

3. Employee Engagement

Challenge: Employee engagement is crucial for any safety program, but the hard part is reaching them. An EHS specialist may have the best strategy to help their company comply with regulations, and increase safety, but if employees aren’t on board or lack understanding, everyone is at risk.

Solution: Like many challenges in the workplace, communication is key. Employees are most likely to increase their engagement in safety practices if the vision is communicated properly. They need to understand how specific activities impact goals and create feedback channels in the form of KPI achievement, recognition, and the chance for coworkers to suggest improvements.

4. Digital Transformation

Challenge: In our technologically advancing world, managing the supply chain on spreadsheets is no longer an option. With so much room for error, the increased risk puts a company in a position to make mistakes. And in higher risk industries, mistakes can be deadly. The EHS specialist is in the perfect position to lead the charge on taking safety digital, to increase efficiency and safety for all.

Solution: A contractor management platform is the easiest way to ditch the spreadsheets and streamline operations. It’s important to partner with a company that has the expertise to quickly understand your business and configure a solution that meets your individual needs.

5. Visibility into the Supply Chain

Challenge: The complex nature of supply chains, which often span globally, makes it difficult for EHS specialists to have consistent and full visibility. This can lead to increased safety risks to workers, lack of compliance, disruptions, inefficiencies, and loss of revenue.

Solution: The most accurate way to stay on top of your supply chain is to use a supply chain risk management solution that gives you full visibility. No matter how many projects you have on the go at several job sites and hundreds of contractors, a good software program will give you peace of mind. With contractor management capabilities customized to the needs of your business, you can gather real-time data to ensure you’re compliant and workers are safe.

6. Emergency Preparedness

Challenge: EHS professionals understand the importance of developing and maintaining effective emergency response plans. However, one of the most common hurdles they face is the complexity of anticipating various unforeseen scenarios.

For example, 2023 was the year of the wildfire in North America. Nobody could have predicted the wildfire disasters that took place and their far-reaching air quality effects. That’s why the EHS specialist must develop plans that address a wide range of potential emergencies.

Solution: A detailed and well-defined emergency response plan that covers a range of scenarios can mean the difference between life and death. It can also support the business continuity plan in the face of an unforeseen incident. This work demands risk assessment, engaging cross-functional teams, training and drills, and consistently updating the emergency plan.

7. Change Resistance

Challenge: When an EHS specialist recognizes the need to change policies, procedures, or strategies, that may cause a sense of discomfort among some employees. Not everyone is comfortable with change, especially if it affects how they work. A strong safety culture requires having everyone on board with the strategy, regardless of their personal preferences. That’s why it’s imperative safety professionals recognize change resistance quickly, a put steps in place to correct it.

Solution: The first step is understanding why someone might be resistant to change. This is where strong communication skills come into play as well as an empathetic ear. Once you understand why someone is resistant to change, you can go about working with them to ensure they comply with company safety policies.

Providing employees with an avenue to feel heard is important, and sometimes that means setting up an anonymous feedback opportunity. These actions will help increase employee awareness, encourage active participation in EHS initiatives, and ultimately lead to improved environmental health and safety outcomes.

An EHS Specialist’s Success Requires the Right Tools to Effectively Overcome Challenges

An EHS specialist is a vital cog in your safety wheel. Their commitment to fostering a secure, eco-friendly, and regulatory-compliant work atmosphere plays a crucial role in the overall prosperity and health of the organization and its stakeholders.

Several of the major hurdles encountered by this crucial position can be addressed by utilizing a software solution to simplify compliance, enhance safety measures, and promote proactive risk management. This empowers a safety specialist to make decisions based on data, track performance, and uphold the utmost standards of safety and environmental accountability. Let us tailor a solution to suit your requirements.

Contact us today to learn more.

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