A well-implemented environmental, health, and safety (EHS) management system can have a bigger impact than virtually any other technology. It might not always be at the top of mind like a customer portal or internal communications platform, but, more than nearly any tech investment that a company can make, EHS management protects people from harm and even saves lives.
Whether you’re a multinational conglomerate that spans across several verticals or a scrappy startup with a handful of employees, there’s no substitute for comprehensive EHS management. The requirements, features, and scope may vary, but the goal is always the same: protecting workers, the community, and the environment.
Planning on implementing or expanding an EHS management program but not sure how to get started? This is everything you need to know about EHS management.
An EHS management tool is designed to help keep people safe.
Not all examples of this technology are created equal, but the best of them help us identify hazards, reduce risk, and prevent injuries and damages by giving employees easy access to a single source of truth regarding policies, procedures, data, and reporting.
Breaking that down further, EHS management is meant to safeguard these three categories:
Case studies from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) demonstrate how EHS management makes a concrete impact. In addition to protecting what matters most, companies that invest in an EHS program also gain an advantage when it comes time for audits and ensuring regulatory compliance. EHS management apps let us keep everything organized and up-to-date so that we don’t have to scramble later.
“Although planning for disasters is extremely important, it is often low on the list of priorities for many departments,” explained Ray Reitz, Executive Director for Information Technology, Finance & Operations and Chair of the University of North Carolina’s (UNC) Information Technology Executive Council. “We are fortunate at UNC to have a group of highly skilled professionals focused on proactive planning to avoid and mitigate risks associated with any disruption of operations… Through their efforts, UNC departments now have access to a streamlined business continuity tool that helps all departments become more proactive and resilient.”
Ultimately, an EHS managed system is about stopping damages before they happen. Just as an ounce of prevention is worth more than a pound of cure in medicine, the same is true for protecting against negative environment, heath, and safety outcomes.
It’s your responsibility to protect your people, your community, and our planet. That’s why you need EHS management.
The unfortunate truth is that many organizations wait until after the alarm bells ring to invest in EHS performance. Something bad happened—a worker was injured, there was a spill, or maybe they incurred a fine after a failed audit. While it’s always preferable to take EHS seriously before an incident occurs, it’s better to start late than never.
Even if your organization hasn’t experienced anything catastrophic, you may recognize that it’s time to implement EHS standards.
For instance, it’s time for an upgrade if information is siloed or hard to reach, share, or update. EHS management can quickly become ineffective if workers can’t get the information they need when they need it—for example, when they’re on a mobile device or on the factory floor—and a dedicated tool fixes this problem.
We also recommend EHS management apps to enable better knowledge sharing. If it’s a problem when someone goes on vacation or retires because nobody else has the same EHS know-how, that’s a problem. EHS software helps veteran employees to spread their knowledge throughout the organization while also making EHS training and employee onboarding easier and more accessible.
The primary reason that you want to invest in EHS management is to prevent incidents. It’s about the safety of workers above all else. For example, after a company that manufactures and distributes metals implemented EHS management, they were able to reduce the air levels of silver in their plant from 0.087 mg/m3 to 0.0036 mg/m3. In other words, they went from almost nine times the Permissible Exposure Limit (PEL) of 0.010 mg/m3 to well below it.
The main EHS system management benefits that translate into improved safety and successful audits all come down to data. A comprehensive and unified EHS system enables better data logging, retrieval, and usage. Employees should be able to easily log incidents, access safety data sheets, review EHS processes, share documents, and generate reports. This can be as big as worldwide EHS management that spans several departments across multiple continents, or it can be as small as a single team that works in a hazardous environment.
By implementing EHS programs on top of relevant custom databases, corporations can boost their safety measures in important ways. These include:
An EHS management system also benefits a company outside of the direct concerns of environment, health, and safety. By streamlining these processes and simplifying the underlying data ecosystem, EHS software lets organizations direct more of their attention elsewhere, increase productivity, and reduce costs. Just like with any other type of automation, the end result is spending less time to do a better job. That opens up a world of possibilities.
Build or buy? Organizations face this same question with virtually every technology solution that they need, and it always comes down to the same answer: it depends.
Here are some questions to get you started:
Custom EHS management solutions are designed to meet your specific needs and suit your exact environment. They are capable of growing and scaling alongside your teams and your business as a whole. Custom software will enable you to add new features down the road and adapt as necessary. It can also be easier to integrate a custom piece of software with other software systems that the organization already relies on.
However, custom high-code software always comes at a price. Coding complex systems requires specialized talent, and IT teams are often stretched too thin to make time for anything that isn’t a top priority. Outside agencies and contractors can deliver, but it will usually cost a lot of money and may take months or even years to see any results: 6-25 months and $72,000 is the average cost of even a simple application that’s built from scratch.
Buying an out-of-the-box solution has certain advantages. They’re mostly ready to go—just plug and play. By the same token, they’re often much cheaper than a custom application. If you do your research and find a good product that meets your needs, it’s certainly possible to get a lot of mileage out of an off-the-shelf EHS management application.
At the same time, there are some serious drawbacks. Most applications in this category offer little in the way of customization, so the system might not end up doing everything that you need it to do, and there’s often no way to add the functionality you need. It’s certainly possible to outgrow an off-the-shelf solution as well, and there’s a real risk of getting locked into a vendor and struggling down the road as a result.
What if we told you that there was another option?
There is a way to get the best of both worlds. You can harness the power of next-generation development platforms. No-code and low-code software development technology are game changers for countless use cases, especially for internal applications like inventory management, workflow automation, and, of course, EHS management.
No-code in particular completely flips the paradigm on its head. Now anyone can develop a custom application that will scale, grow, and adapt—all without the expense, overhead, and drawn-out timeline of traditional software development.
The main advantage of no-code is that we can create customized applications without having to write a single line of code. Instead of having to know specialized coding languages and parsing complicated logic, no-code enables anyone to build a program by performing familiar actions like drag and drop or point and click.
This process of using a familiar graphical user interface (GUI) to create applications is called visual programming. If you can use a computer and follow a flow chart, then you can be a citizen developer with no-code!
Besides reducing the costs and timelines without sacrificing a thing, one of the biggest draws to using no-code for EHS management is that the people who actually use and maintain the system get to build it. Nobody knows better than the users on the ground what they need. By giving them the power to build exactly what they need with no-code, they’re guaranteed to have just the tools they need—nothing less and nothing more.
A no-code solution like Blaze enables organizations to build their own EHS management tool. Use it to safely house all documents, search and edit them easily, and enable teammates to access EHS data anytime and from anywhere. View EHS procedures, automate workflows by integrating the EHS system with other tools, and continue to build out the application as the company grows.
We recommend starting small. Take a close look at the EHS challenges that you’re having and that you want to solve with a custom EHS solution, then narrow in on one or two functions. Once you’ve built the necessary features, gotten a feel for how it works, and received feedback from users on the ground, move forward incrementally. The great thing about no-code is that it’s easy to get started, see what works, and iterate from there. Use that to your advantage when building an EHS management platform.
Use Blaze to build out a web app for simple reports or use it to scale into a hyper-automated organization that better manages EHS in the workplace.
Now you’re in control.
Like prerequisites that are required before moving on to the courses that actually interest you in college, EHS management software may not be the sexiest application on the hard drive. Yet it’s absolutely essential. It’s a foundational tool that is a need-to-have for any organization that wants to keep their workers safe and pass audits for OSHA compliance.
Let’s rephrase that. EHS management is a need-to-have for basically every organization!
Whether you’re just getting started or you’ve decided that you need to expand beyond what a previous solution could offer, using no-code to create EHS software is a great option. Build complex applications in hours or days instead of months or years. Enable ordinary users, especially EHS professionals, to build the tools they need. Build with confidence, knowing that you’ll be able to adapt and scale as your business and the world changes.
Ready to get started? Take Blaze for a test drive today.