Many EHS professionals complain about lack of power.  But EHS managers too often view their role in terms of speed limits and stop signs – knee-jerk rule-based approaches. 

Working with and through others can pay off much better.  As brilliant as EHS professionals may be, they are unlikely to arrive at the best solutions by themselves.  Engage the best minds in your organization.

One way to do this is with a management system such as ANSI Z10 that uses a plan-do-check-act approach to continually improve EHS and get the entire organization on the same page.  There is no need to wait for management support and planning.  It can start by improving any of the other elements of an EHS management system, including incident investigation, employee involvement, risk assessment, improved performance metrics or feedback to management.  The goal should be to get more people involved in improving EHS. This may mean letting go and stepping out of our comfort zone.

Many people, including senior managers, will embrace the responsibility and challenge of improving safety if asked to do so. Others may need more help and time. The EHS function is to provide the tools (e.g. meaningful metrics, risk assessments) that managers need to be successful. The process is evolutionary.  It begins with viewing the EHS role as supporting business improvement, not ruling an EHS empire.  A truly effective EHS manager takes more pleasure as a bystander while an operations manager is recognized for a safety achievement.  Real EHS leadership does not come from a title or reporting relationship; it is the ability to enlist the talent and energy of others for EHS improvement.