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Environmental health and safety (EHS) managers oversee the development and implementation of health and safety programs for a company. They make sure that employees work safely and use proper safeguards. They manage the company's compliance with environmental regulations and standards.
An EHS manager is responsible for assessing a company's workflow and determining what practices are necessary to keep employees safe on the job. The EHS manager, in conjunction with members of the senior management team, implements policies for the use of personal protective equipment. He or she also details procedures for potentially dangerous tasks, so that employees know how to do their jobs with the least risk of injury.
EHS managers conduct ongoing safety training for all employees and assure that new employees receive orientation and introductory training. These professionals are well versed in the requirements of the regulations that protect the health and safety of workers, and they know how to identify which regulations apply to a particular company or industry. EHS managers lead routine safety meetings to review new policies or procedures. These meetings give staff members the opportunity to share their observations of safety issues or to make suggestions for improvements. EHS managers also review posted safety information to be sure that it is up to date and accurate.
In the event of an employee injury, the EHS manager conducts an investigation of the incident. He or she reports his or her findings to the senior management on the cause of the injury and suggests how it can be prevented in the future. If the injury was caused by an unsafe act, the EHS manager might schedule retraining for the employees involved in order to reinforce proper safety procedures.
For industries where employees work in potentially hazardous environments such as mines and refineries, the EHS manager is responsible for the regular assessment of the work environment. Air quality, noise levels and sight hazards are subject to routine evaluation. The focus is on maintaining the health of employees. EHS managers who work in industries that handle hazardous materials instruct employees in safety and communication requirements and the proper handling, storage and disposal of hazardous materials.
For companies that store reportable quantities of hazardous materials, the EHS manager will maintain and update the company's plan for preventing spills and the actions that must be taken after a spill. He or she will assure that the proper cleanup supplies are kept on site and that employees have been trained to use them correctly. In transportation companies, EHS managers oversee the required training of employees who package, mark, label and ship hazardous materials or hazardous waste. They ensure the proper completion, distribution and retention of hazardous materials or hazardous waste shipping documents.
If a company discharges exhaust gas or liquids, the EHS manager will oversee testing to confirm that discharges are within the appropriate limits. These limits are based on the company's discharge permit. Ensuring compliance with these limits usually requires sampling and testing on an ongoing or periodic basis.
The field of OHS/SHE safety, whatever you want to call it doesn't have set in stone definitions/roles for its tiers. Te titles and meanings can range wildly. For example, responsibilities and experience ranges for a "Junior OHS Advisor" can range from company to company. Some use under 3-5 years and at some companies, it's under 1 year of experience. Also, the level of education required is a very fuzzy area to the profession. The words "Advisor" and "Officer" are also not well defined nor well understood in the workforce of frontline workers.
This from personal experience: unless you know an HR person or manager of a big company, don't take OHS as your first education. Go into it after years of experience in a field. There aren't well defined education requirements for OHS personnel.
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