From contending with specific local, regional, or country-wide regulations to internalizing cultural barriers and nuances to ensure program success, every global company faces a unique set of opportunities and challenges when deploying and managing environment, health, and safety (EHS) initiatives across operations.
There’s no one-size-fits-all approach, something your EHS consulting partner should be deftly aware of—and ideally, they should have the in-the-trenches industry experience to help you create the tailored approach you need. This helps you not only comply with nuanced compliance challenges and regulations, but also capitalize on opportunities and mitigate risk points more quickly to drive results.
So how exactly can industry-specific knowledge power up an EHS program? We talked to some of our own experts to find out.
1. By asking the right questions to gain early momentum
Most projects don’t fail in the end, they fail in the beginning. That’s why it’s critical to ask the right questions from the start of any EHS initiative to jumpstart the momentum.
For example, for chemical sector clients, one of the first questions EHS and Sustainability Consultant Ray Wheeler, CIH, CSP, asks is: “How well documented are your chemical and noise exposure policies at each of your facilities?”
“Since chemical and noise exposures put employees at a heightened risk for hearing loss, I want to get a sense for what data already exists, as well as understand how this risk is being communicated to employees,” Ray says.
Rather than spending weeks or months getting up to speed on your industry, someone in the know can hit the ground running and spend more time learning about your business and the challenges you’re facing to get to solutions more quickly.
2. By identifying common, low-hanging opportunities that can be acted upon quickly
One example we see fairly often is contractor management. Many companies outsource work to vendors, which means they’re inviting contract workers into their facilities. And according to Project Manager Collin Mitchell, CSP, many organizations don’t have health and safety expectations and guidelines specifically for contractors. And he says you should expect and define the same level of EHS commitment from contractors.
“Some of the first questions I ask are: How are you pre-qualifying your contractors before they come onsite? Is safety performance a large factor in the decision to reward work or is it solely based on price? How do you ensure contractors follow your policies and respect your facility and employees?” he explains.
“I weigh in with these types of questions to see if the client has thought out their process,” Collin adds. “It challenges them to rethink, and perhaps poke holes in, their own design—to show the weaknesses and identify where we need to get started.”
3. By providing messaging recommendations that will resonate with your stakeholders and workforce
For most EHS leaders, compliance is the minimum indicator of program success. But true success isn’t rooted in constructing policies and procedures aimed at reducing or managing risk—it’s in activating your workforce and leadership.
Your everyday employees and your leadership team need to know what EHS is, why it’s important, and how they can play a meaningful role. And creating a consistent message across a broad spectrum of sites—some of which are in distinctly different geographies and cultural atmospheres—can be a challenge.
The premise here is simple: You need to be able to market EHS in a way that is relevant to your employees and industry in order for your message to resonate. And leveraging experts with industry-specific experience can help you do just that.
4. By listening
OK, so you don’t need to be an industry expert to accomplish this, but it still bears repeating. As EHS Consultant Mark Mitchell shares: “When clients begin to understand that you possess both the technical and industry expertise that affects them, they are able to accept you as a trusted source, and the stage is set to do good business together.”
When it comes to working with an EHS consulting partner, having the right technical and industry expertise is critical. But also make sure you’re choosing one that’s willing to lend a listening ear.
Industry Insights that Lead to Solutions
With hundreds of consultants across six continents, Antea Group’s team of consultants are not only intimately familiar with their respective industries, but also with local regulations and cultural barriers.
Most of us cut our EHS teeth working for brands and companies within the sectors we now consult for. Others have years or even decades of experience in their industry niche. As a result, we know what keeps you up at night and we take a very targeted approach during the discovery process. This helps us get a deeper understanding of how the unique and complex pain points of your specific industry are impacting you.
Learn more about Antea Group’s health and safety services, and how our expertise can help your organization drive better results.
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