By Liz Cox, MS, CSP, Supervisor – Health & Safety, U.S. Compliance
Managing and maintaining the environment, health and safety (EHS) program at a facility with one location can be difficult, but having multiple locations to manage makes the process even more arduous. In this article, we will cover some of the common challenges faced when managing an EHS program at a multi-site organization, along with some tools and tips to assist in creating an effective and consistent program.
When managing an EHS program for a multi-site organization, there are several challenges that may be faced. Some examples of these are listed below.
- Lack of consistency across locations
- Lack of accessibility of materials/documents
- Lack of accountability
- Lack of visibility
These challenges may be the result of personnel limitations, differences in management, or differences in safety culture, among other things. The key is to identify a tool or process to correct or reduce the impact of the challenge at hand. Below are several tools that can be implemented to assist with common challenges of multi-site organizations.
A compliance calendar is a calendar that outlines the timeframe in which specific EHS objectives should be completed. Regulatory deadlines, scheduled training dates, scheduled program review dates, and facility safety inspections can all be tracked through the compliance calendar. The development of a facility-wide EHS compliance calendar can assist in providing continuity at a multi-site facility so that all locations are focusing on the same objectives at the same time of the year. Further, the compliance calendar can also assist in ensuring that objectives are not missed and are completed promptly.
Injury and Illness Prevention Program
Implementing an injury and illness prevention program (I2P2) throughout all locations can help to increase the safety culture throughout the facilities and reduce injuries. Key elements of a successful I2P2 include management leadership, safety goals, employee involvement, hazard identification and control, and employee education and training. An active I2P2 at a multi-site facility can add structure to the overall EHS program and develop a network of employees with safety responsibilities throughout the facilities.
A common goal of an I2P2 is the development of a safety committee. Your safety committee will be made up of predominantly production employees that meet at a determined frequency and discuss and address safety issues. Having this network of safety representatives throughout all facilities can be crucial in maintaining continuity throughout. The safety committee can assist with general safety inspections, hazard mitigation, incident investigation, and running safety incentive programs.
EHS software or cloud-based systems can assist with several challenges faced by multi-site organizations and ease accessibility pains. With a cloud-based system, EHS programs, training records, calendars, and other relevant information can easily be accessed by all sites. Giving access to this information can assist the on-site representative to bring more value to the EHS program.
A learning management system is another electronic tool that can add significant value to a multi-site organization. An LMS can assist with training completion, tracking training, and producing reports concerning training. This tool can alleviate the strain of always needing to conduct in-person training by providing an online-based option. It also allows all necessary personnel immediate access to training records across all sites. An LMS can also assist with consistency, ensuring all facilities are focusing on the same training at the same time.
A safety data sheet management system is a tool that can assist with achieving compliance and giving employees access to valuable information. The SDS management system will house all of each facility’s safety data sheets in an online database. This eliminates the need for the dreaded SDS binder and also provides quick and easy access to SDSs. Many SDS management systems include an automatic update process so that the user does not need to individually update SDSs as the manufacturers publish them.
If you need assistance managing the EHS program at a multi-site facility, please contact your U.S. Compliance representative. U.S. Compliance can identify the challenges and implement the necessary tools to create a successful EHS program.