There is no one definition of an Environmental Health and Safety Manager. So much depends on the organization, its mission statement, location, history, and size that it would be impossible to give one definition to describe who this person is.
Some of the things you can do as a EHS manager include:
Investigating environmental incidents such as spills or releases in your facility or at other facilities at which your company does business assessing losses caused by these events.
Your job may include investigations of product defects (food, pharmaceuticals) for potential human health effects or violations of laws and regulations regarding worker safety.
As an EHS manager you might also be responsible for work with products that are known carcinogens so working with them require special precautions including training, documentation, paperwork and keeping workers safe from accidental exposure.
Your work may involve working with government officials as well to improve the safety of products both at home and abroad.
Creating systems for your facility that make sure everyone is following procedures related to health and safety including labeling or doing whatever it takes to keep people safe in the workplace.
Working with a team in any sort of capacity. There are many different forms an EHS manager can take whether he has complete control over his own team or works within the HR department to provide information on what needs to be done environmentally in regards to hiring practices.
Working with teams means being a part of those teams
Keeping records on accidents that happen so concerns can be addressed before they turn into something than can’t be fixed.
Making sure that your facility is following any local, state, federal and global laws as well as being best in class for environmental health and safety so that you are keeping up with the times (and who wants to lag behind?).
Providing training on health hazards or prevention techniques to employees. Training may take place on a one-on-one basis or in larger groups depending on the subject matter.
Being an EHS manager means being knowledgeable enough about all aspects of what you do that you can answer questions from anyone needing clarification whether it’s a frontline worker or someone holding more authority such as a supervisor.
This also includes understanding how each of the systems work together within your facility so there are no gaps between departments when they need to come together.
What Makes Great EHS Management?
If you are a manager who is interested in becoming an EHS manager it’s important to always be looking for ways to improve what you do.
Being open minded and listening to feedback from others is important so that you can take any criticism and find the positive in it.
Demonstrating flexibility with your employees as well makes them more likely to trust you, invest time into working with or under you, and help create a sustainable system within your team.
You may have a plan and see how it would work but until it has been tried and tested by someone else outside of yourself there is no way of knowing if it will truly work long term without adjustments due to new information learned along the way (and this takes an open mind).
When an EHS manager has an open mind and is flexible he gives himself the ability to make good changes in safety without being too emotionally invested into “his way or no way.”
Good communication skills are important for any kind of management position, but this is especially true for EHS.
There is a lot of information that you can’t share with employees unless they have signed privacy agreements so it’s up to you as the manager to keep them informed and on track when it comes to their roles in your department.
Getting Things Done
Environmental health and safety management may not be what everyone expects it to be. Not only does it require hard work and plenty of paperwork, there is also more opportunity for things to go wrong than just about any other job out there.
If one of your employees slips up then there is a chance that you will hear about it, know who did it, and have to address it. This includes being able to recognize not only what happened but how the employee got into this situation in the first place so that you can help prevent others from making the same mistake or something similar down the line.
When someone has made a serious error you should also be able to take steps to fix whatever problem was created by coming up with solutions on how to prevent a reoccurrence in the future. An EHS manager may need to do more than just make sure everyone knows what they are doing around their workplace; he may also need to be an assistant coach working towards creating best practices for his team.
Making a Difference in People’s Lives
The possibilities for what an EHS manager could be doing are endless, which is why there are so many different industries all across the world that need people who can take on this role. It may be more than just one department though as they may also need to work with other outside divisions like HR or legal. This does mean that if you have any interest in becoming an EHS manager you should spend some time working in various areas so you know exactly what kind of environment you would be comfortable working within. So pick your specialty and get started so that not only will you learn what it takes to go from being an employee to a manager, but also how to make a difference in people’s lives.