Decoding EHS: A Matter of Life, Health and Business Survival

EHS, HSE… if you don’t know the topic well, these acronyms can sound rather cold and clinical. But in fact, EHS is fundamentally about the things that matter most in business and in life. Put in shortest simplest terms, EHS means the following:

  • E (Environment) – making sure your site isn’t harming the planet and surrounding area through an accident or negative externalities such as pollution from daily operations
  • H (Health) – making sure operations are not making your people sick
  • S (Safety) – making sure that accidents don’t take your people to the hospital (or worse yet, to the cemetery)

If you work in Technical Asset Management, energy management, or a range of other specializations where critical assets and utilities are at play, you will surely know these letters by heart. But for the non-specialists out there, or those wanting a quick refresher on the fundamentals of EHS, Aden has created this short primer on a topic that is truly central to the well-being of your people, planet and profitability.

What is at stake with EHS?

In short, the whole viability of your business and budget. When it comes to EHS, the stakes are incredibly high in both the short and long term. At the most obvious level, the health and well-being of individuals inside and near to your site is on the line. This is a cost which can hardly be quantified from an ethical standpoint, although the financial liabilities certainly can be measured and often becomes staggeringly high.

Many companies have learned the hard way that the cost of even one day’s work disruption can quickly compound and burn through a whole year’s maintenance budget in the space of a few hours. And if facilities are shown to be damaging the surrounding environment, massive penalties or even closure are likely to follow. Beyond this immediate threat, companies face the related costs of repairing damage, dealing with claims and penalties, as well as the long-term reputational harm that quickly accrues negative media attention and word of mouth.

Is there a difference between EHS and HSE?

Not a bit. This is a common source of confusion but in fact EHS means Environment, Health and Safety, while HSE means Health, Safety and Environment. In other words, they are two formulations of the same pillars, all of which ensure best practices for long term business viability and sustainability.

What are the most common types of EHS incidents?

EHS incidents can take many forms, depending on the industry and nature of work. However, some types of incidents are more common than others. Here are a few examples:

  • Workplace Accidents: These are often the most readily recognized EHS incidents. They can include falls, equipment-related accidents, and other injuries that occur during the course of work.
  • Occupational Illnesses: These are health issues directly related to workplace conditions or practices, such as repetitive strain injuries, hearing loss from excessive noise, or illnesses related to exposure to harmful substances.
  • Environmental Incidents: These incidents involve harm to the environment due to business activities. They can include pollution (air, water, or soil), improper waste disposal, or the excessive use of natural resources.
  • Chemical Incidents: These occur when hazardous substances are released, posing a risk to health, safety, or the environment. They can result from spills, leaks, or improper storage or handling of chemicals.

Do most EHS incidents come from deliberate neglect by the company?

In fact, no. Much more often, companies realize too late that their HSE practices were less secure than they had understood them to be.

A leading source of this issue is the lack of commonly accessible service history and work orders, a liability that is best remedied by backing operational teams with the proper tools and strategy for systemic digitalization. Common HSE breakdowns occur around these points:

  • Reliance on paper-based systems: Gaps in servicing and work history easily go unnoticed either because a specific document has been damaged, gone missing, or cannot be easily searched.
  • Data swamp: Too much information and too many spreadsheets make it nearly impossible to track service history and potential HSE issues. Note that the same can happen with a shiny new digital CMMS if your systems are not set up to record asset-by-asset each piece of equipment’s individual performance and servicing history and other key data.
  • Silos between teams: Often enough, two teams both think “the other guys” have covered an aspect of HSE and lack the digital tools and communications system to recognize a gap.

So are there neglectful companies? Yes. But far more often there are companies that “don’t know what they don’t know”. This is one more reason having a centralized HSE and technical services partner can be such an important aspect of securing your core assets’ safety and reliability.

How does a good EHS policy support ESG and other compliance requirements?

Another acronym enters the stage, with a confusingly similar name… Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) criteria are a set of standards socially conscious investors use to screen potential investments. They consider how a company performs in terms of its impact on the environment, its relationships with employees, suppliers, customers, and communities, and the quality of its governance practices.

A good EHS policy directly supports ESG criteria by minimizing environmental harm, promoting a healthy and safe workplace, and demonstrating good governance. A great EHS policy systemically collects, structures and reports all data relating to EHS so that companies can achieve near automation in this reporting, and consistently validate their measures and progress towards optimal EHS practices.

Of course, ESG is only one of the frameworks companies are moving to report. In addition to this, any group operating in the APAC market will face a range of local and national compliance requirements, all of which can be met through this same approach.

What is Aden’s MEGA SAFE program and how is it supporting EHS?

Aden generally, and its Technical Asset Management team especially, have been laser focused on EHS for some time, with all members required to complete mandatory and ongoing EHS training, and dedicated EHS management in place for our national teams.

Our core beliefs can be summarized as follows:

  • In the modern work environment, HSE is a non-negotiable.
  • An aggressive focus on HSE best practice is something we owe to our employees, our clients, and society.
  • Work performance and work safety go hand in hand and develop in every team member a greater sense of ownership, commitment, belonging, and attention to detail.

This year, with Aden’s volume of Technical Asset Management business growing fast, we have updated our HSE policy and kicked off a campaign we are calling Mega Safe at Aden. For us, MEGA stands for “Make EHS Great, Always” a simple and fun way to remind everyone our unshakeable commitment.

With a refreshed commitment to both core best practices and advanced applications of our digital platform, we are rolling our Mega Safe as a blend of SOP updates, on-site audits, trainings for staff and clients, and, of course (!) digitalization to enhance standardization, alignment and accountability at all levels.


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