Thought Leadership


What is the first step for any EHS manager in a new role and new company?

July 25, 2012
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open doorFrom the LinkedIn group EHS Professionals comes this most basic question, with a number of diverse answers…

Introduce yourself to each department manager and ask them to give you a tour of their department, including everything they do that is HSE-related.

Conduct a gap analysis

I would conduct a five to seven year incident analysis and potentially an EHS perception survey to evaluate where the current program is.

Introduce yourself to each director and ask them “what they expect from you in your role as EHS manager and what do they consider being the greatest risk within their span of control”

If you get the answer “keep us safe” or similar you know you have your work cut out. And if they are unsure about their greatest risk then you may have an opportunity to educate them.

Sorry, should have said that was the second job, the first job is to acquaint yourself with the security team and the cleaners, they are the best source of information as to exactly what goes on day and night within the business

It sounds to me that most of them are saying "Get out on the floor, introduce yourself, take notes and ask questions. That's what I do when I start with a new company. I also review the OSHA log and all the environmental reports verifying they're doing them all. Also ask what can you do to help them do their jobs safely. The one running and working on the machine knows it better than his or her boss, so don't limit your conversations to just supervisors and managers.
Good luck

Gap analysis,sure...said another way.....capture the "is-state" (what the situation, systems, processes are "now")....and have a view of the "to-be" wished-for state. Folding in gap analysis will soon make it clear what bias or hierarchy you need to follow (biggest bang for the buck first, etc.....)

If you are new to the job and the company, after introducing yourself to staff surely you would want to acquaint yourself with the company policies and procedures. After all you are there to advise your employer of EHS matters. Then you can move on to what processes and see what each department does.

Read and understand the company EHS policy, Procedures and start implementing as a team member.

First of all you have to check whether your new company is interested to implement safety practically on site or they need the safety to be documented only in files.

Policies & Procedures are already in place but being a manager you have to ensure that all of this is being implemented. If company is not interested in that then there is no meaning of to go through these policies & procedures

Sit down with the head of your administrative section even if that is only one person. Ask her/him what they think is going on. Armed with that knowledge, after meeting with your new boss, arrange to meet with every department manager you have some type of EHS oversight. Let them know you are interested in their department, the safety of their people and facilities, and you are there to help. Then listen to what they have to say. You will soon know who is blowing smoke at you and who truly believes in your value to their department and the company. Once that has been achieved, check your records. If any exist, see if you can ID any problem areas. Then hit the employees with a visit. Ask questions. LISTEN! These people down in the trenches have a lot to say and much, if not most of it, will be genuine concerns. If it matches what your records indicate and ties in with what your department managers say, you will have a good idea of where to start. If it doesn't you need to dig around and find out why.

Depending upon the size of the organization, get to know everyone and their concerns. If that's not practical than target certain individuals, at all levels, where problems have been identified using their input and what you learn from analysis. Their participation and trust will get you a long way.

After joining with the company get introduced with all the team members, read and understand the policy, procedures, find out how the management gives you the support for safety and if you don't get support or encouragement you have to set a goal to make the management to understand the importance of EHS including the team member and all the key personnel. Start out a with  a goal to implement the procedures to ensure that the work is going on with safety awareness and safety environment and ensure that work is going on safely without any incidents and accidents.

I would suggest: listen, observe, learn, gap analysis, take stock in the cultural language, build relationships and ask good open questions.

Start by reviewing all the incidents records of the company, study the culture and behavioral attitude of the people in the new company, review the EHS management system as well the process production/construction activities and start safety program.

In addition, if you haven't done so already, I would first check with your boss to determine if there are any hot items, works in progress, expectations, priorities, and timelines. He/she may not value the same things you think are important. After your quick gap analysis (review compliance history, site tours, employee input), you may need to revisit the expectation list to discuss adding missing items or re-prioritizing and negotiating timelines. Make a plan and be sure your boss is on-board and supports it.

I agree that Gap Analysis is a good step. I like it as the “second” step though. My First Step is / would be to get a "Letter" from the Top Management (President, or similar) that delivers The Message: "I give my full support to Safety / EHS Person, and I expect you to do so also." (Use language to make it fit your specific situation.) Then distribute that to all workers.

Having started a new EHS position a few weeks ago. I have asked for such a letter/statement etc. but so far -nothing from the owner/managers. As such I am contending with resistance at all levels, making day-to-day accomplishments VERY difficult. So yes indeed before starting to do assessments or anything else, GET a letter of support!!!

It is imperative that top CEO level of management give full support...."walk-the-walk, not just talk-the-talk". Warning.... if there is upfront resistance from the CEO level, there will be trouble brewing as the corporate "culture" will not be correct ( ie, is "duplicitous") for you to be effective. This is exactly the same thing as for any quality initiative, or project-management work process to be successful...the need to have uniformity of purpose top/bottom and sideways in an organization.

A high level response that shows resistance is an indicator that other motives (solely profit motive...others?) are drivers...and that safety will be supported only openly but not be a privately-held conviction as to purpose.

The sad truth is that a proper safety view (support) also enhances the bottom-line profit picture...some companies and company cultures today still "don't get it". Much like it took 50 years of Japanese quality focus (Deming) to finally make the US auto industry wake up...but only after near bankruptcy loomed over their heads for them.

First of all I would make sure that you are clear and understand what your department and personal goals and objectives are. Like most others stated; introductions with department supervisors/managers and obtain their outlook and expectations with safety; observe and assess; review old incident/accident reports and injuries (including First Aids); review the company safety policy (noting any deficiencies).

It’s easy to have a set goal and to know where you want to go. However, you have to know where you are at so you can set your course. From there, develop an action plan and submit it for review and approval to the person you answer to.

Once on the payroll, I would like to obtain statistical data from the last 5 years to present, so that you may be able to project where you want the company to be in 5 years. Such data as how many lost time injures in the past 5 years, and in what areas, what type of injuries created these lost time injuries. How many back to work injuries, how many first aid treatments, length of the lost time injuries away from work. Most good companies will have already introduced you to the supervisory staff, and workforce. The next step would be to make a Job hazard analysis, and make sure the company is in compliance with OSHA/EPAS/DOT standards. Best regards, and God be with you.

Get to know your Safety Team... Be in the field or on the floor every morning 10 or 15 min before each shift that you can make. Show your face, shake hand, kiss babies whatever it will take to show the work force you are there for them. I took over a company program with full backing of all managers. They had an OSHA rate of 11.82... we had safety training, hands on training outside contractors ... but what the workers told me was most motivating was seeing me at the work trailers 10 - 15 minutes before the shift. That showed them I was there for them. I doing as we went to a 2.62 OSHA rate in 8 months

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