What is Environment, Health and Safety and Why is it Important?

Abhijeet KakadeJanuary 23, 2023

“The worst day I ever saw.” This is how people described the industrial disaster (infamously known as the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire) of 1911, where 146 people, mostly young women, got killed in the fire. This was the first industrial accident that came up on my laptop screen when I was researching Environment, Health and Safety. You won’t believe history is full of horrific industrial disasters that eventually gave birth to Environmental Protection Agency and later OSHA (The Occupational Safety & Health Administration) that we see today

To supplement my knowledge on this topic before writing on it, I decided to attend several EHS conferences, like the  35th Environmental, Health, and Safety Conference by the American Foundry Society, to understand what EHS stands for after 53 years of its introduction.

What is Environment Health and Safety (EHS)?

EHS stands for Environment, Health, and Safety. The main objective of EHS is to ensure that people and the environment are safe and healthy.

Environment** refers to the surrounding conditions, including the natural and built environments in which an organization operates and the impact of its activities on the environment. It includes regulations that govern topics such as air and water quality, waste management, and conservation of natural resources

Health** refers to the physical and mental well-being of employees, contractors, and others in the workplace and the impact of the organization’s activities on public health. It includes regulations that govern occupational health and safety, emergency preparedness, and exposure to hazardous materials

Safety** refers to protecting employees, contractors, and others from accidents, injuries, and harm. It includes regulations that govern topics such as fire safety management, emergency evacuation, and personal protective equipment

EHS Program Timelines

Here is a brief timeline I have put together to help you understand how EHS practices came into existence

Industrial Health and Safety (IHS) program was established in the 19th and 20th centuries when industrialization significantly increased workplace accidents and illnesses

IHS was renamed Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) to ensure employers provided their employees with safe and healthy working conditions

OSH was again renamed Environment, Health, and Safety (EHS) to protect the environment and promote environmental sustainability in the workplace

What is EHS Compliance?

EHS compliance refers to following all laws, regulations, standards, and guidelines related to the workplace’s environment, health, and safety management

A factory, for example, must comply with all regulations set by the EPA and the OSHA to ensure that emissions from the factory do not harm the air quality and that workers are safe. Compliance with these regulations is crucial to protect employees, the community, and the environment from any negative impacts caused by the organization’s operations

What is the Importance of Health Safety and Environment?

A while ago, we mentioned Triangle Waist Company, a garment factory in lower Manhattan, where the neglect and apathy of the factory owners resulted in a devastating fire that claimed the lives of 146 innocent workers.

Similarly, the BP Deepwater Horizon disaster of 2010 brought to light the devastating effects of an oil drilling rig explosion that caused the largest oil spill in history, wreaking havoc on marine life and the environment

To prevent such industrial accidents from happening again, EHS was implemented to protect the natural environment and the people in it from possible harm or danger at their workplaces.

From the industrial point of view, these are the reasons why EHS is crucial for providing healthy, safe, and environmentally friendly working conditions.

EHS management includes various activities and processes implemented to protect employees, customers, and the wider community.

Process Safety Management

Following process safety management standards and regulations for businesses that deal with hazardous materials such as toxic, reactive, or flammable liquids and gases

Auditing and Monitoring

Conduct regular audits to ensure EHS policies and procedures are implemented effectively and identify improvement areas

Risk Assessment

Injury Prevention

Implementing strict safety management practices that will help you reduce occupational injuries at workplaces

Incident Reporting and Investigation

Having a system to report incidents and accidents and conducting investigations to determine the cause and prevent a recurrence

Emergency Preparedness


Ensuring compliance with relevant laws and regulations, including environmental protection, health and safety, and emergency response

Training and Communication

Providing training and communication programs to ensure that employees know their roles and responsibilities and know about the potential hazards and measures to curb them

Continuous Improvement

Regularly review and update EHS policies, procedures, and practices to ensure they remain effective and aligned with the latest regulations and industry standards


Incorporating sustainable practices into the organization’s operations to reduce the negative footprint on the environment

What is the Role of an EHS Manager?

An EHS Manager is a professional responsible for developing, implementing, and managing an organization’s EHS programs and policies. They are responsible for ensuring that the organization complies with all laws, regulations, and standards related to EHS.

As you can see, EHS management is a crucial aspect of any business operation. EHS Managers have many responsibilities that cannot be easily carried out without the help of technology. Luckily, many software like EHS software,  safety audit software, etc., can help them effortlessly manage everything, from conducting audits and identifying health and environment hazards to implementing appropriate measures or reporting

For example, they would ensure that construction sites are properly fenced off to prevent public access and that the construction activities do not pollute nearby water bodies or air. They would monitor that the construction company follows the regulations and guidelines for waste management and hazardous materials handling. Furthermore, they would conduct regular inspections and audits to oversee safety management and environmental regulations

Improved Compliance

EHS software allows organizations to easily track and manage compliance with relevant regulations, such as OSHA, EPA, and other industry-specific standards. It can also help organizations identify and mitigate potential compliance risks

Increased Efficiency

It automates many processes, including incident reporting, hazard identification, and corrective action tracking. This can save organizations time and money by eliminating the need for manual data entry and paper-based record keeping

Better Data Management

It provides a central location to store and manage EHS data, making it easier to track performance, identify trends, and measure progress over time

Better Communication

It can help organizations to better communicate EHS performance and compliance information to employees, stakeholders, and regulators

Better Decision-Making

It provides access to a wide range of data, which can be analyzed to identify trends, potential risks, and areas for improvement. This can help organizations to make better-informed decisions about how to improve their EHS performance.


I hope this blog provided a clearer understanding of what EHS is and why it is essential for any organization. If I put it this way, EHS is like a superhero for your workplace, and it is the force that protects your employees, the environment, and your business from harm. The guardian ensures compliance with regulations, and it is the secret weapon (non-lethal) that helps your organization run smoothly and efficiently.

Key Takeaways

Think about it, without EHS, you could be putting your employees at risk of injury or illness, damaging the environment, and facing hefty fines. But with EHS, you can rest easy knowing that your workplace is safe and responsible

And just like any superhero, EHS has tools to help it do its job. One of the most powerful of these tools is EHS audit software. Imagine seamlessly integrating EHS into your operations with just a few clicks. That’s what EHS software can do for you. It makes compliance easy, streamlines processes, and gives real-time insights into your EHS performance

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