5 EHS Management Myths That Hurt Your Business

[fa icon="calendar"] Tue, May 17, 2016 / by Rachel Beavins Tracy

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When you’ve been with a company a long time, you get used to doing things a certain way. Unfortunately, “we’ve always done it that way” is one of the most dangerous positions to work from in business.

Why? Because this mindset means you never have to reexamine old ways of doing things that could, in fact, be harming your company. When you take the time to really dig deeper, it sometimes turns out that the old way isn’t always best.

With that in mind, let’s bust 5 common EHS management myths that ultimately hurt your business.

1. Long-Time Employees Don’t Need More Training

For a lot of companies, only new employees have to attend training. This is dangerous on several levels, and can lead to costly mistakes and penalties.

The reality is, training (and retraining, when necessary) should come into play at multiple points of the safety management process, including:

  • When changes are made to established work procedures.
  • When you make important changes to the employee manual.
  • When Corrective Actions uncover gaps in Employee Training.

Assigning Employee Training by role, location or department makes it easy to keep everyone up-to-date when important changes are made to key documents, or when incidents uncover a need for more training around a specific procedure. To be sure training sticks, it’s also important that your EHS software comes with built-in testing capabilities.

2. Computer-Based Training Can Replace In-Person Training

Computer-based training is pretty much the norm these days in corporate environments. There are many great EHS training solutions out there, but many people—especially employees—would agree that some companies rely too much on computer-based training.

For one thing, some safety procedures and processes are too critical to leave to computer-based training, especially when you consider many people just click through to the test page or otherwise try to shorten the time it takes to complete training modules.

In other cases, arbitrary or poorly conceived test questions can cause employees to fail certain modules repeatedly, meaning courses that might take an hour in person can take multiple hours on a computer. Not only is this frustrating for the employee, it’s also a huge waste of payroll dollars.

3. Only Supervisors Have Stop Work Authority

This isn’t always a formal company policy, but often employees don’t feel empowered to exercise stop work authority when they observe unsafe conditions. To truly build a culture of safety in your organization, it’s important to be clear that everyone has not only the authority, but also the responsibility to step in when they see something unsafe.

It’s kind of like the old Department of Homeland Security motto, “If you see something, say something.” The foundation of a safety culture relies on everyone taking ownership of safety. Make sure your employees truly understand this and feel empowered to step forward.

4. Sustainability Reporting Isn’t Important

This is more of an issue with smaller and mid-size companies these days, with 93% of the world’s largest 250 companies now producing annual sustainability reports.

The lesson for smaller companies? If you want to run with the big dogs, you need to get on board with sustainability reporting. The good news is, your company will also get several benefits from tracking sustainability initiatives, including:

  • Increased profits.
  • Stronger brand value.
  • Overall better business performance.
5. Manual Recordkeeping Gets the Job Done

Some companies drag their feet on adopting automated EHS management systems because they think their manual system works good enough, and it would be too expensive to bring in an enterprise software solution.

What these companies don’t realize is that they’re just one incident away from discovering exactly how costly it is not to have an EHS management system to automate Incident Reporting and related Corrective Actions, just two of a whole toolbox of functions that help you get your incident rate down and avoid costly fines and penalties.

It’s something important to consider, given that OSHA doesn’t look kindly on repeat mistakes. An EHS management system is what lets you spin mistakes into gold, turning them into learning opportunities that improve your process as a whole.

The truth is, leadership often means asking tough questions. If you’re having trouble achieving your EHS management goals, take a close look at whether these myths have taken root in your organization. Chances are, you’ll find big benefits in looking at things in a new light.


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Topics: EHS

Rachel Beavins Tracy

Written by Rachel Beavins Tracy

Rachel Tracy is a writer for EtQ with expertise in environmental, healthcare and technology topics. She has a master’s degree from Vanderbilt University and has been writing for businesses since 2008.

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