EHS management systems vary by organization, but all serve the same end-goal: to support a safe and healthy workplace AND reduce risk to the environment. Many effective EHS management systems implement the Plan-Do-Check-Act approach, which defines the actions the organization should take to plan, implement, review, and continually improve their management system. This approach focuses on continuous improvement and applies to all processes within an organization.
In a webinar hosted by Antea Group, our EHS consultants shared their insights into using the Plan-Do-Check-Act method to build an effective EHS management system. The discussion featured Kelly Sampliner, Consultant & Management Systems Services Lead, Chantel Hinson, Senior Project Manager, and Ogochukwu Adaikpoh, Senior Project Manager who each shared their unique advice and perspectives gained from their experiences working in environment, health, and safety (EHS).
If you didn’t get a chance to watch the webinar, it is now available on-demand.Watch On-Demand
What is an EHS Management System?
An EHS Management System is a formal, top-down, organization or facility-wide approach to managing EHS risks and ensuring the effectiveness of risk controls and systematic implementation of procedures, practices, and policies.
An effective EHS Management System will:
- Reduce downtime and costs
- Mitigate environmental impacts
- Assist with improving culture
- Support EHS compliance
- Support a safe work environment
- Promote efficiency
There are several benefits to implementing a management system(s). They can help manage performance and guide planning, goal setting, and help measure performance. They can also engage employees throughout all levels of the organization and create a foundation for job performance and drive continuous improvement throughout the organization. In addition, they can enhance public image by demonstrating a commitment to EHS.
Some of the more well-known EHS management systems include the following:
“The Plan-Do-Check-Act concept is the core of many effective management systems,” shared Chantel Hinson. This system is a continuous cycle that encourages the creation of strategies and plans and guides their execution, checks them for quality, and helps create the next generation of plans. The Plan-Do-Check-Act system can be used not only for EHS management systems but across many operations within the organization.
This system helps to drive meaningful change through a versatile approach, ensures proper testing and feedback, promotes involvement from all levels of the organization, and creates a streamlined approach to continuous improvement.
Below is a more detailed look into each of the steps in the Plan-Do-Check-Act process.
The “plan” stage is often the most time-consuming step of the process. During this stage, EHS leaders should ask fundamental questions that help provide clarity and set up the EHS management system. Elements of the “plan” stage include:
- Ensuring that the management system is aligned with the organization's mission, vision, and values.
- Establishing context by determining the scope of the management system and identifying stakeholders involved, and any internal and external issues that exist.
- Performing a SWOT analysis to identify Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats that exist within the organization.
- Assigning roles and responsibilities that will aid in the implementation of the management system.
- Identifying element-level documents that already exist and could potentially overlap with the new management system.
During this stage, the organization will implement the EHS management system using the plan that was created. It is crucial to collect data during this stage to help evaluate the system later. Elements of the “do” stage include:
- Gathering the team
- Executing the plan
- Using the tools provided
- Monitoring and measuring progress and collecting all relevant data
Now it’s time to evaluate all the data collected during the “do” stage. During this stage, you will be able to compare the implementation of the plan to the original plan outline and identify any deviations. It is important to ask yourself during this stage, were the objectives we set out to achieve met? During this stage. EHS leaders should:
- Review results
- Compare performance to objectives
- Inspect for deviations
- Identify corrective actions
The final stage of the system is to make improvements to the original plan based on the conclusions from the “check” stage. Make the changes in real-time and start the Plan-Do-Check-Act process over again. During this stage, the following actions should happen:
- Analyze results from the “check” step
- Implement corrective actions
- Continuously improve
Stakeholder Engagement and Buy-In
To successfully implement a new EHS management system using the Plan-Do-Check-Act method, getting key stakeholder buy in is key. There are two important factors to consider: leadership and management commitment and worker participation.
Leadership and Management Commitment
Getting leadership and management on board is important as they set the tone for EHS throughout the organization. The stakeholder group will establish the EHS objectives and foster a shared understanding of safety culture. They should also monitor organizational culture and performance and create a line of open communication to help understand why objectives are or are not being met. Finally, this group must lead by example and demonstrate a commitment to building, maintaining, and improving an effective EHS management system.
Without worker participation, a successful management system cannot be achieved. Workers should be involved in the development of processes and procedures since they are the ones using the management system in real-time. They will also be key when it comes to identifying improvement opportunities and sharing lessons learned that will help strengthen the system. All workers should feel empowered and encouraged to provide feedback on EHS management systems and plan an active role in the Plan-Do-Check-Act process.
At the end of the day, an effective management system supports worker health and safety and protects the environment. Plan-Do-Check-Act is the foundation for building an effective management system and will drive continuous improvement when used correctly. And remember, this method is designed to be a cycle that will help your EHS management system thrive.
Learn more about building effective EHS management systems and contact an Antea Group consultant to get started!Health and Safety Management System Support
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