In addition to their primary responsibilities, EH&S managers are routinely tasked with finding ways to implement sustainable solutions that improve operations. Bruce Klafter, an expert in EH&S and sustainability, discusses how to communicate the value of these programs.
The changing role of the EHS manager
“EH&S managers have responsibilities in several areas. The health and safety of individuals at their site is their top priority, while understanding and maintaining compliance with relevant laws and regulations is a close second.
“Once you get past that basic core of duties, today’s EH&S managers face additional challenges that were not part of the job description 10 or 15 years ago. It can be challenging at a small company to determine what programs should take priority, and then to develop and promote those programs by establishing their value to the company.”
Making the case for sustainable solutionsInternal Value
“Frequently, there is a very compelling case to be made from a business perspective for creating improvements in EH&S programs. In the area of energy and water, these arguments include reducing costs, conserving resources, and increasing employee attraction and retention. Communicating these benefits internally will establish value in the programs and provide concrete reasons to adopt specific EH&S initiatives.”
“In addition to internal benefits, there is a significant amount of value added through customer relationships. Customers today are very interested in how operations are conducted and will even mandate that certain protocols and efficiencies be adhered to.
“By demonstrating to customers that you manufacture in a responsible manner, operate efficiently, and treat your employees better, they will have additional confidence in the value of your products and be more likely to retain your services.”
Exceeding goals with partnerships
“Building skills and competencies to operate in today’s market is critical for EH&S managers and is a challenge that should be welcomed. Additionally, it is crucial that they find good partners who can help them meet or exceed their EH&S goals, as very often a company will not have all of the resources to successfully implement these changes internally.”
About Bruce Klafter
Vice President, Corporate Social and Environmental Responsibility – Flex
Board Member & Vice Chair –Electronic Industry Citizenship Coalition (EICC)
Adjunct Faculty – Presidio Graduate School