3 Questions from the Webinar on Priorities of EHS Managers

May 25, 2017
By Jean-Grégoire Manoukian

On May 5, 2017, we hosted a webinar with Verdantix and Environmental Leader on the EHS Manager’s Priorities in 2017, featuring David Metcalfe, CEO at Verdantix, and Noelle Harvey, Senior Product Manager at Enablon, as speakers. The webinar focused on the changes faced by EHS managers and the new priorities that are shaping the role for 2017 and beyond. The webinar ended with a Q&A section. Below are three questions that were especially interesting, and summaries of the answers.

Q: What are tangible/measurable ROI metrics concerning Operational Excellence

David Metcalfe started the answer to the question by highlighting the complex nature of the topic (“a question worthy of a PhD thesis”). People in EHS roles are now being asked to interface much more with operational management and add value to operations, not just to be a kind of “compliance police force”. Three big types of ROI metrics are particularly relevant to EHS professionals:

  • Efficiency. How can people in EHS roles help reduce operating costs at a plant.
  • Productivity. How EHS can play a role in generating more output per input going in.
  • Plant uptime. How can you produce higher volumes per time period by avoiding plant shutdowns.

Q: Is the risk-based approach a higher management maturity level than strict compliance, or an actual different way to manage? Isn’t compliance a baseline anyway?

David mentioned that there is a geographic element to this, i.e. business cultures and regulatory frameworks in the U.S. versus Europe are different. For example, if you are in an EHS role for an offshore oil operation, you would have a massive compliance handbook if you’re operating in the Gulf of Mexico. As long as you’re following the compliance handbook, it’s implied that you’re doing the right thing. But if you’re operating in the exact same role in the North Sea in Europe, there is much more of a risk-based approach. You have a much “thinner” compliance manual, and you’re told to manage assets so they perform appropriately and manage risks at all times in relation to EHS and operations. However, today, a risk-based view is becoming more widely adopted in the U.S., despite a historic focus on compliance. Therefore the EHS role must look well beyond compliance to add value to the business.

Q: What are your thoughts on concerns over field workers being distracted and therefore at more risk from using mobile devices, versus the benefits?

To answer this question, Noelle Harvey gave some examples of the benefits of using , which address many frustrations that workers have, such as not being able to complete their tasks fully, experiencing downtime because they have to go and speak to somebody at a site office to report an issue, rather than doing it instantly, waiting for a response from a manager, etc. Feedback from Enablon customers using mobile solutions has been very positive. Local site managers do not consider mobile devices at all as distractions, but instead consider them as real aids in getting the job done. Mobility helps to engage workers in safety and allows them to successfully carry on their tasks. For all these reasons, and more, the benefits of using mobile devices far outweigh any concerns around distraction.

View the recording of the webinar by clicking on the box below to learn more about the priorities of EHS managers and other topics, and for the full Q&A section, including the complete answers to the questions above.