Environmental health and safety has become an increasingly important topic in recent years, as the need to protect people from potentially harmful substances becomes more of a priority to governments and consumers alike. What exactly is environmental health and safety? Why do we care about it? And how can you be sure your business or organization adheres to all the relevant EHS regulations and practices? We’ll help you answer these questions and more in this guide to environmental health and safety.
What is Environmental Health and Safety
Environment, health and safety (EHS) is a discipline and specialty that studies and implements practical aspects of environmental protection and safety at work. In simple terms it is what organizations must do to make sure that their activities do not cause harm to anyone.
In the organization, EHS is the department involved in environmental protection, safety at work, occupational health and safety, compliance and best practices. EHS aims to prevent and reduce accidents, emergencies and health issues at work. It involves creating a systematic approach to complying with environmental regulations, such as managing waste or air emissions all the way to helping site’s reduce the company’s carbon footprint.
Environmental Health and Safety Responsibilities
People who work in environmental health and safety have a job that is as vital as it is misunderstood. Responsibilities vary, but they include everything from providing training to planning emergency responses, handling hazardous waste disposal, enforcing safety regulations, investigating environmental crimes (like spills or illegal dumping), overseeing compliance with environmental regulations, etc.
The Importance of EH&S
In today’s world, environmental health and safety (EH&S) isn’t just a luxury—it’s an absolute necessity. In order to protect both employees and environmental assets, organizations need to have their EH&S house in order from day one. So what exactly is EH&S, who should provide it, how much can you expect to pay for it, and why should you bother with hiring a firm at all?
Of course, you do not have to be in charge of an enterprise to have a stake in EH&S. From parents ensuring that their kids aren’t exposed to dangerous chemicals at school to wildlife lovers who want to make sure their favorite parks remain free from waste contamination, everyone has a vested interest in keeping environmental assets safe. This is especially true when it comes to healthcare facilities like hospitals, long-term care facilities, and senior living communities.
We all want a safe, healthy environment.
Environmental Health and Safety Policy
You must ensure that your company has a clear Environmental Health and Safety Policy so your employees know what is expected of them when it comes to following proper safety procedures. This policy should be clearly communicated in writing, with regular training sessions held to review key points.
It should also be noted that new hires must undergo comprehensive training on your company’s EH&S Policy. This includes an overview of where to find all relevant policies and procedures, plus a review of what these rules and guidelines mean in plain language. New hires should also have opportunities to ask questions about their role within your EH&S Program, as well as any concerns they may have about how to do their job safely.
You may want to consider holding your trainings in a conference room that has been set up specifically for these sessions. Having a designated space will help your new hires feel more comfortable, as well as signal that you take EH&S Policy seriously.
Environmental Health and Safety Courses
Environmental health and safety training varies depending on employer, so environmental health and safety courses will be tailored to your role. If you’re just starting out, you may take a general class or two on chemical safety while more senior employees may take specific courses covering certain hazards or topics in depth.
In some cases, an employer may hire an environmental health and safety officer to manage EH&S as a whole. In others, there will be someone specifically in charge of environmental health and safety compliance. There’s also opportunities for becoming an inspector through EH&S courses. If you work in a regulated industry such as pharmaceutical or food production, environmental health and safety inspector certification can help you stay qualified to conduct inspections.
It’s important to keep these details in mind when searching for environmental health and safety courses. Schools can not guarantee you a job, but they can help you develop a set of skills that will be useful no matter what path you take in your career. For example, most EH&S courses include instruction on emergency response procedures like firefighting or handling hazardous material spills.
Those are helpful skills regardless of whether you work at an oil refinery or in a hospital laboratory.
As you can see, there are plenty of reasons to learn environmental health and safety courses. Whether you want to move into an inspector role or simply advance your career with certification, EH&S training can provide an invaluable foundation.
Environmental Health and Safety Degree
Despite a rising number of workers and improving salaries in other fields, jobs requiring an Environmental Health and Safety degree still remain lucrative. The BLS predicts that employment for environmental health and safety specialists will grow by 9 percent between 2016 and 2026, with an average salary of $65,000 per year in 2016. Although workers do not require a master’s degree to find work in Environmental Health and Safety, most employers prefer to hire them with advanced degrees.
Each type of degree emphasizes different skills, so be sure to research all of your options before you commit to a particular field. Environmental Health and Safety degrees can help prepare students for jobs in an office or outdoors, as well as employment with government agencies or private organizations. Entry-level jobs require at least a bachelor’s degree, but some positions may require an advanced degree such as a master’s or doctorate.
If you are looking into environmental health and safety careers, then a Bachelor of Science (BS) Environmental Health & Safety (EH&S) degree is what you need. An EH&S program prepares graduates for leadership roles within companies that deal with hazardous materials or toxic chemicals on a daily basis. This means that if you are passionate about ensuring public safety in regards to health risks from chemical exposure, waste management and related fields, then earning an Environmental Health & Safety Degree could be perfect for you.
Are you ready to take your passion for public safety to another level by earning an Environmental Health & Safety Degree? Online College Campus has a directory of accredited universities that offer BS EH&S degrees. Review their course curriculum and select schools that provide jobs after graduation.
Choose an online college today, so you can find Environmental Health & Safety jobs more quickly.
NOTE: Environmental Health and Safety is offered as an undergraduate certificate in many colleges and universities around U.S.
Environmental Health and Safety Specialist
Environmental Health and Safety (EHS) Specialist oversees environmental programs and systems in order to minimize damage and injury to humans and natural resources. The EHS Specialist oversees all safety practices, codes, policies, training, waste management and other environmental functions related to a facility. They evaluate equipment operations for occupational health hazards and employee complaints about workplace conditions that may affect safety; based on their findings they implement or recommend appropriate measures.
To become an Environmental Health and Safety Specialist, a bachelor’s degree in engineering or environmental science is required, along with certifications from state agencies. Specialists should also be familiar with OSHA regulations.
Environmental Health and Safety Professionals Salary
Environmental Health and Safety Professionals earned a median salary of $64,560 in 2017. Environmental health and safety professionals typically earn more than most other occupations that require an associate’s degree, but less than those who hold bachelor’s degrees.
However, factors such as company size can also play a role in determining how much an EH&S professional earns each year. For example, Environmental Health and Safety Professionals working for companies with fewer than 10 employees earned a median salary of $54,600 in 2017. In comparison, Environmental Health and Safety Professionals working for companies with 1,000 or more employees earned a median salary of $77,040 during that same time period.
Working for a large company can help boost your salary, but if you’re looking to earn more, consider working in a metropolitan area. In 2017, Environmental Health and Safety Professionals working in areas with a high cost of living earned $66,020 on average—nearly $10,000 more than those who worked in rural areas.
What Environmental Health and Safety Manager Does
EHS managers must identify and understand relevant EHS regulations, and the implications. Organizations based in the United States are subject to EHS regulations in the Code of Federal Regulations, particularly CFR 29, 40, and 49. Still, EHS management is not limited to legal compliance and companies should be encouraged to do more than is required by law, if appropriate.
Hence, EHS managers must acquire the necessary training and certification in environmental health and safety. He must also keep himself abreast with the progress and changes in the field of environmental health and safety.
Generally, EHS managers will;
- Promote good working practices for employees in terms of environmental health and safety.
- They observe these organizations to ensure that they comply with environmental legislation regarding safety in the workplace.
- Help reduce carbon footprint or minimize environmental impact.
The EHS professional require attention to detail, great observation skills and knowledge of environmental law. They examine procedures and actions, and look for potential hazards in the day to day operation. When an individual is injured, they will often be the person conducting the investigation and writing the report. They may be called upon as expert witnesses for either side in the result of a prosecution.
How EHS Relates Sustainability
EHS professionals are increasingly responsible for designing and implementing strategies to take companies beyond compliance.
These initiatives involve tasks such as:
- Developing and leading a formal sustainability program.
- Creating successful internal partnerships to integrate EHS values and practices across the business.
- Communicating enterprise risks associated with environmental, health, or safety failures.
- Establishing global corporate EHS standards and practices.
- Publicly reporting progress on a full spectrum of EHS and sustainability initiatives.
- Responding to stakeholder inquires about their company’s EHS and sustainability performance.
- Working with supply chain.
- Global auditing.
- Ensuring safe and healthy workplaces around the world.
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