Empowering yourself to improve your EHS program

Setting up, or improving, an EHS program at your company is a complex job. Do you know where to start and what questions you should be asking?

Jessica Sarnowski

by Jessica Sarnowski

There are many steps to setting up an EHS program at your company. Assuming that you already have a program in place, or that you inherit an existing program, you might be wondering how you can improve performance and enhance your leadership. Below are some helpful tips.

Take an objective look at your EHS Program

Regardless of whether you’ve been in charge of the program for years or if you just started a new role where you are taking over a new program, it is always a good idea to reassess an EHS program once in a while. Technology changes over time and there are always new regulations to consider. It is a good idea, therefore, to set annual or bi-annual (every 24 months) reviews of the program that you have in place.

Break everything down into questions like the ones below:

  • Do you have the right team in place to ensure that your company doesn’t violate EHS regulations?
  • Do you have the right technology for your company processes (e.g. manufacturing processes)?
  • Do you need to ask for budget to complete EHS priorities?
  • Do you have the best tools in place to track new regulatory requirements?
  • Do you have HR initiatives that encourage employees to speak up about process improvements without fear of retribution?
  • Do you have a way to measure the success of your EHS program and the changes that you seek to make?

Get the right tools for improving your EHS program

There are many services out there to help you. When it comes to compliance, specifically, you need to know what you want from a compliance service and what the best fit will be for your team.

Consider the following:

  • Do you have global operations such that you need global tracking of EHS regulations?
  • Do you need regulatory requirements to be interpreted for you, or do you have experts on staff who can read and interpret the regulations?
  • Do you need native speakers to read the regulations?
  • Do you have the in-house capacity to track when new regulations come out or do you need help with that?
  • What is the best combination of tools to help your team succeed? This could be a combination of content support and EHS software.

Strive for continuous improvement of your EHS program by defining success

The world is changing rapidly and as requirements change you should be flexible in your approach to EHS program success. Start with a definition of what success looks like and what improvement looks like. Be specific and adapt this definition to your industry.

For instance, a manufacturer might define success as reducing air emissions by X percent. A construction company with multiple project sites might define improvement by showing that 99% of the sites complied with fall protection requirements during the last 6 months, as opposed to 70% previously based upon internal inspections, self-assessments or audits. The more specific you are in defining and tracking EHS program improvement, the easier it is to determine how much more improvement you need!


Take these questions and build upon them based on your specific circumstances or use them to create a personal checklist and open a dialogue with your staff. As a leader, it is important to keep asking questions, even if they seem obvious to you. As always, empower yourself to improve the EHS program that you care so deeply about.

Subscribe to stay on top of emerging EHS issues with our latest resources

Sign up to receive updates on what’s happening in environmental, health and safety regulations – and what to do about it, including: today’s risks and safeguarding against them, changing regulatory developments and your requirements, trends to get ahead of in your program…