When it comes to workplace safety, all companies, no matter the industry should concern themselves with having effective strategies in place and team of EHS professionals always ready to tackle any situation. Whether you have a retail, industrial, hospitality, or entertainment company, having a strong hold of what environmental, health, and safety entails should be a top priority for you, and also implementing plans, guidelines and regulations to best work in your advantage and that of your employees.
According to statistics from the US Bureau of Labor, in 2017 there were approximately 2.8 million nonfatal workplace injuries and illnesses reported by private industry employers, and although there are fewer nonfatal workplace injuries and illnesses reported in the previous year, it is still a significant number which all companies need to be aware of, in order to improve their environmental, health and safety strategies, and make sure they have a team of EHS professionals on site.
What does An EHS Professional Do?
All businesses, regardless of size or sector need to develop and implement health and safety programs based on industry guidelines and regulations, and on the specific needs of the company and its employees. EHS professionals are responsible for implementing those programs, and for the health and safety of all employees, therefore they conduct a wide array of activities based on those responsibilities. Particular tasks are assigned to EHS professionals based on the company’s activities, such as choosing proper equipment, conducting training sessions, or developing procedures about injury risks, dangerous threats and other issues specific to your activity in terms of health and safety.
Whether you have to employ a team of EHS professionals or one person, you need to look for specific qualities and traits when you are conducting your searches and interviews, in order to make sure that your environmental health and safety programs are properly drafted, implemented, and updated.
Qualities of a Great EHS Professional
If in the case of EHS technologies and software, companies know exactly what to look for when it comes to the perfect solution for their environmental health and safety needs, in the case of EHS professionals, things need to be assessed not only based on company demands, but also based on the traits and qualities of a great EHS professional.
EHS professionals have to always be in contact with senior management, so when creating your team, keep in mind that you will need well-trained professionals on whom you can always rely, no matter the situation. From safety routine meetings to handling dangerous circumstances, here are some of the most important qualities of a great EHS professional, qualities you need to pay attention to when hiring a new member of your team or when you are evaluating the current EHS professionals working for your company.
EHS Technical Skills and Industry Knowledge
The most important thing to look for when hiring an EHS professional is that they possess all the necessary EHS technical skills and have updated industry knowledge, not only from courses and theories, but also from practical experience. A great EHS professional will know how to use their technical skills and industry knowledge in service of the company they are working for, but also that it is mandatory to always update all industry-related knowledge with new regulations and means of implementing them.
Interpersonal and Communication Skills
Technical EHS skills and industry knowledge need to always be complemented by excellent interpersonal and communication skills such as reflective listening and succinct writing abilities. Your EHS professional needs to be able to communicate with each and every one of your employees, have the ability not only to convince them to follow the environmental health and safety programs, but also to come forward with suggestions or concerns. Currently, the corporate environment is dealing with a lack of trust when it comes to employees discussing such matters with their superiors, which a great EHS professional can change, therefore improving the situation in your company.
Knowing how to talk to people, how to train them, how to listen to them, and how to make them feel that you acknowledge the important role they play in the overall activity of your business are qualities that most people often look for in senior management, but which also need to be found in EHS professionals, no matter the industry of the company they are working for.
Professionalism, Priority, Perseverance, and Performance
The nature of an EHS professional’s work is not only an ever-changing one due to having to keep up with industry technology and regulation, but also one that plays a key role within a company in terms to the health and safety of employees, which is why an EHS professional needs to always conduct all activities with professionalism, know how to prioritize, how to persevere in searching solutions, and how to perform to the best of all abilities in terms of implementing and updating health and security strategies.
Having an Understanding of the Human Factor
Regardless of how digitalized an industry is, or how many machines are involved in the activity of a company, environmental health and safety issues don’t occur solely due to technical difficulties, malfunctioning, or damages. Therefore, a great EHS professional needs to have a clear understanding of the human factor and its role in the overall activity of a company so that prevent the issues that can be prevented, and train employees towards implementing new measures in the case of issues that have already led to a crisis.
Desire for Continuous Personal Improvement
The environmental health and safety profession is constantly updating itself based on new technologies that get developed, variations in legislature, and any other related factors that might led to the need of implementing a change. Therefore, EHS professionals need to have a desire for continuous personal improvement, desired that is correlated with keeping up with industry changes, and wanting to use those changes in the benefit of the company they are working for, and its employees.
The qualities of a great EHS professional are key factors into deciding how to form your EHS team, and should always be considered, whether you are hiring new people, training your current EHS team members, or conducting an evaluation of your environmental health and safety plans, strategies, and the activities of your team. When a health and safety crisis arises, your EHS professionals need to be able to handle it accordingly, and hiring people who possess the aforementioned qualities will offer you the guarantee that your employees and company are protected.