What is an EHS manager?
EHS managers are tasked with ensuring business processes and operations meet regulatory standards when it comes to employee health and environmental impact.
The role is dynamic and will change depending on the specific organisation and the way they operate. Managing employee safety in a hazardous waste plant, for example, requires different processes and procedures to those working in a corporate office block.
Regulatory standards relating to employee safety and environmental impact are also likely to vary based on country. They can also suddenly change if governments decide action needs to be taken to address wider national or global challenges. The global movement to reduce single use plastic is an example of how EHS managers may have to react to changes and analyse their supply chain.
A big part of the role is to understand risks within an organisation. This often requires a holistic view of every department and processes to analyse any potential problems that could negatively impact employees or the environment.
An EHS manager will often leverage EHS software and other tools to help in the tracking, analysis and evaluation of environment, health and safety metrics within an organisation.
How to become an EHS manager?
EHS job roles will vary depending on the organisation and how senior the role is, but the following provides some guidance into the skills and experience that are often required for such a career.
EHS jobs will often ask for a relevant degree, such as Environmental Health, Safety Engineering, or Occupational Health. This will lay the foundation for understanding how organisations can better manage environmental, health and safety issues within their supply chains and procedures. If your Bachelor’s degree isn’t related, you may consider doing a Master’s in a related topic.
Data is fundamental for understanding and in
terpreting risk. This means EHS managers need to have a solid background in data analysis and feel confident in evaluating vast amounts of data to draw meaningful conclusions.
EHS software has become a key component of the role, helping to collate and interpret organisational data. Having experience and knowledge of these tools is likely to be a bonus in any job interview.
EHS managers will likely be required to communicate their findings and reports to other senior leaders within an organisation.
As EHS spans across different departments, it’s likely you’ll need to communicate and interact with lots of different teams, particularly if it is a large organisation.
EHS can create a plethora of data, so a key skill is being able to communicate this into simple, bitesize takeaways. Infographics, for example, help to visualise data and bring data to life in a more engaging way.
EHS managers must have clear knowledge on the existing regulations surrounding employee safety and environmental impact, relating to their industry. Failure to understand these regulations could create significant legal challenges for the organisation, so EHS managers must display thorough knowledge and understanding of all these standards.
As a manager, it’s likely you will have other team members. This means you will need to have evidence that you can lead and motivate them.
You’ll need to ensure your team have all the necessary training and take a proactive attitude to furthering the skillset of your team.
EHS managers will often be tasked with difficult decisions. Changing business processes unnecessarily could be expensive and create pressure on the financials of the organisation. However, failure to spot risks could present danger to employees or the environment.
Managers must be confident in making these tough decisions and back them up with clear evidence.
These move quickly when it comes to health, safety, and the environment. As new research emerges, business practices can soon become outdated and pose risks.
This means EHS managers need to stay abreast with industry knowledge and trends to ensure they can be proactive in creating change within business processes.
As legislation changes, managers may also need to hire new team members to ensure the organisation is able to manage EHS effectively. New environmental regulations, for example, could create more workload and require a quick response to avoid complications down the line.