EHS Software 101: Everything You Need to Know
Environment, Health and Safety software or more commonly EHS software is a software that refers to a wide range of functions and features that are related to any of the three words its acronym represents. It is usually database driven which means that it hosts information via electronic storage that is hosted somewhere internally or externally to the company that uses it. EHS software is often referred to as enterprise software meaning that it adheres to the usual software purchase scheme that software companies often employ.
The fields that relate to EHS is extremely broad. It covers fields such as environment preservation, waste impact management, health of its employees and customers, safety and industrial hygiene. The lifeblood of EHS software is EHS data which could be collected and stored in a number of ways. Typically, these information are gathered by EHS officers and are uploaded to the EHS software. After gathering a sensible amount of data, the EHS software can then begin to generate meaningful reports. In more advanced EHS software, this also includes risk management through intelligent forecasts to help in company decision making.
As EHS officers, they are often tasked to do one or more of these functions:
- Environment Laws Compliance. Using the EHS software, an officer can easily keep track of metrics that are deliberately capped by the state to help in protecting the environment. The projections generated from information can then be viewed as models to ensure that the company does not cross the thresholds.
- Risk Management. One of the most important feature of EHS software is the automatic creation of risk models to easily assess the status of the company in relation to valid dangers that are being considered.
- Safety Compliance. Similar to environmental compliance, rules have also been set by the state that ensures the health and well being of employees working for the company and the consumers.
Because EHS is an integration of many differing functions and features, the various aspects are often divided into modules which represents a subgroup of related software capabilities. When buying EHS software, there are usually options to buy only a few modules instead of buying them all in order to save money. Some of the possible modules that you may expect from a modularized EHS software is listed below:
- Respirator Fit Testing – Respirators are crucial safety gears for industries that deal with unsafe chemicals such as in production lines or mixing depots. The fit of these facial safety gears should be tested on a regular basis to ensure that it provides the necessary filters to ward off harmful gasses.
- Material Safety Data Sheets(MSDS). EHS software allows a safety officer to digitized recording of information that relates to the safety metrics of materials used in production, construction, or manufacture. Part of the reason why MSDS is ineffective is because it is often filled by workers on rigorous duty who might not be able to religiously or even legibly log information. MSDS is crucial in determining risks that may arise during day to day operations.
- Health and Safety. EHS software are usually integrated with clinical data from the company which are filled out by medical personnel. Health and safety are two of the main concerns of EHS that has a direct impact on everyday production. Features such as employee health monitoring and annual check up logging are crucial in fulfilling regulatory obligations, risk assessment and as a responsibility to the company’s employees as well.
- Confined Space Entry Permit Management. Confined spaces are determined to be danger zones especially if these spaces are underground. It is sometimes difficult to keep track of employees, customers, and/or other guests who come and go inside. Some EHS software offer real time tracking using heat sensors which automatically deny access to incoming personnel to prevent overcrowding.
- Lockout-tagout (LOTO). This mechanism is used to handle equipment that are deemed dangerous. EHS software can assist in ensuring the effectiveness of the procedure. A popular example of this is on control centers which launch missiles or switching stations for electricity grids.
- Ergonomics. Although often overlooked, safety in an office setting is one of the leading causes of permanent injuries sustained in the workplace. There are many aspects that needs to be reviewed and monitored in order to ensure that employees are not forced to sit, stand or walk in awkward fashions.
- Incident Logging. Incidents, in workplace safety management pertains to accidents or accident inducing situations that are observed on the workplace. These incidents need to be logged as well as studied in order to ensure that they do not happen again in the future.
- Waste Disposal Management. States will put sanctions and restrictions through their institutions to ensure that the companies will comply with the policies set by the government. The penalties are often stiff which means that there should be a focused effort to make sure that the company never has to face government instigation.
How to obtain EHS software
There are three ways that a company can acquire EHS software. The first one is to employ developers for the company for the length of software development. The setup is often contract based and thus allows flexibility should the software need further development after the designated time. The second one is to buy the software off the shelf. This approach is probably the most viable for most as well as the safest. The third way is to purchase software development as a service from contractors. Using this method, the buying company can choose to hire a specific group of developers and use their services for the duration of the development. This differs from off-the-shelf software in that it allows the company to demand specialization.
EHS software is one of the essential components of a healthy company in terms of both employee development and societal responsibilities. It is never easy to keep track of various metrics especially if its interpretation is not yet a rigid science thus it is vital that companies employ the use of EHS for automation aid.