Environmental Health and Safety

Environmental Health and Safety is considered as a discipline and specialty that studies the activities that do not cause harm to anyone. It involves identifying potential workplace hazards by reducing accidents. It also prevents exposure to harmful situations and substances. The training is also provided for accident prevention, accident response, emergency preparedness, and use of protective clothing and equipment.

It ensures the development of safe, high quality, and environmentally friendly processes in an organization. Those activities were efficiently followed that prevent or reduce the risk of harm to people in general, operators, or patients.

From an environmental standpoint, it involves creating a systematic approach to complying with environmental regulations, such as managing waste or air emissions all the way to helping sites reduce the company’s carbon footprint.

Following proper Environmental Health & Safety guidelines, a safe working place for the employees is ensured. It also minimizes the future potential liabilities ensuring compliances. It also minimizes environmental damage that could result from work practices.

The general categories under EHS are:

1. Environmental

  • Air emissions and ambient air quality
  • Energy conservation
  • Wastewater and ambient water quality
  • Water conservation
  • Hazardous materials management
  • Waste management
  • Noise
  • Contaminated land

2. Occupational health and safety

  • General facility design and operation
  • Communication and training
  • Physical hazards
  • Chemical hazards
  • Biological hazards
  • Radiological hazards BG
  • Personal protective equipment (PPE)
  • Special hazard environments
  • Monitoring

3. Community health and safety

  • Water quality and availability
  • Structural safety of project infrastructure
  • Life and fire safety (L&FS)
  • Traffic safety
  • Transport of hazardous materials
  • Disease prevention
  • Emergency preparedness and response

4. Construction and decommissioning

  • Environment
  • Occupational health and safety
  • Community health and safety

Effective management of Environmental, Health, and Safety (EHS) issues:

  • Identifying potential EHS project hazards and risks associated with them at an early stage.
  • Involving suitable experienced EHS professionals, having the necessary training to assess and manage the impacts and risks associated.
  • Carry out specialized environmental management functions
  • Figuring out the potential impacts that the project will generate. It may include significant quantities of emissions or effluents, use of hazardous materials or processes
  • Evaluating subsequent consequences & impacts on workers, communities, or the environment if hazards are not adequately managed
  • Working out risk management strategies ensuring lower risk to human health and the environment
  • Implementing strategies that eliminate the cause of the hazard at its source
  • Providing proper training to the workers and nearby communities enabling them to respond to accidents, including several safely control. 

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Responsibilities associated with Environmental, Health, and Safety (EHS) issues:

Responsibilities of Individuals

  • To follow applicable environmental, health and safety laws and regulations & safe work practices.
  • Being familiar with the emergency plan and emergency coordinators for their building, and participate in emergency drills.
  • Keeping them updated about the potential hazards associated with their work and work area
  • Using personal protective equipment appropriate for their work.
  • Report all unsafe conditions to their supervisor or safety committee as soon as is reasonably possible.
  • Warn co-workers about defective equipment and other hazards.
  • Participate in health and safety training applicable to their work situation.
  • Participate in required inspection and monitoring programs.

Regulatory History

The formation of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in the 1970s initiated environmental management requirements. The state-level regulatory systems were initiated at later stages.

  • The Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 imposed additional regulatory requirements on employers.
  • International EHS standards have been set by ISO 14001 and OHSAS 18001. 

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Environmental Health & Safety: Indian Scenario

The Constitution of India provides detailed provisions for the rights of the citizens and also lays down the Directive Principles of State Policy which set an aim to which the activities of the state are to be guided. These Directive Principles provides:

  • For securing the health and strength of employees, men, and women;
  • That the tender age of children are not abused;
  • That citizen are not forced by economic necessity to enter avocations unsuited to their age or strength;
  • Just and humane conditions of work and maternity relief are provided; and
  • That the Government shall take steps, by suitable legislation or in any other way, to secure the participation of the employee in the management of undertakings, establishments or other organizations engaged in any industry.

Goals set by Govt. of India for ensuring proper safety & health of the workers include:

  • Providing a statutory framework on Occupational Safety and Health in respect of all sectors of industrial activities for better compliance.
  • Providing administrative and technical support services.
  • Providing a system of incentives to employers and employees to achieve higher health and safety standards.
  • Providing for a system of non-financial incentives for improvement in safety and health.
  • Establishing and developing the research and development capability in emerging areas of risk and providing for effective control measures.
  • Focusing on prevention strategies and monitoring performance through improved data collection systems on work-related injuries and diseases.
  • Developing and providing required technical manpower and knowledge in the areas of safety, health and environment at workplaces in different sectors.
  • Promoting inclusion of safety, health and environment, improvement at workplaces as an important component in other relevant national policy documents.
  • Including safety and occupational health as an integral part of every operation.

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