Organizations can realize many benefits from integrating their EHS/ESG management system across the entire organization. Examples of benefits include aligning a stronger safe workplace culture, consistency across all business segments regarding EHS/ESG expectations, goals and objectives and consolidating the components of the EHS/ESG Information Management System (IMS). This IMS effort includes:
- Reduction in software and vendor costs
- Elimination of duplicate, and potentially contradictory, data that could be contained in multiple systems
- Improved system maintenance efficiency by reducing the number of systems and datasets
- Improved quality achieved by integrating EHS/ESG information with the organization’s human resources employee data
- Elimination of organizational silos by standardizing the way that EHS/ESG information and data are collected, managed and visualized
- The improved efficiency in reporting to corporate leadership and regulatory bodies by having a single repository of EHS/ESG information
While the benefits of integrating EHS/ESG management systems are well-known and valuable to the organization, the process for achieving integration must be well-planned and resourced and must have senior leadership support. This article explores the traits, implementation steps and benefits of a successful EHS/ESG management system integration and touches on the potential roadblocks that can stand in the way.
Components of an Integrated Management System for EHS/ESG Risks
The components of an integrated EHS/ESG management system generally follow International Organization for Standardization (ISO) element requirements for specific standards such as ISO 9001, ISO 14001, ISO 45001 and ISO 50001. Generally accepted components of such a system include:
- Policy and Vision Statement
- Leadership Engagement and Commitment
- Organizational Planning
- Roles and Responsibilities
- Risk Management and Controls
- Performance Evaluation and Improvement
Companies that develop their own internal standards to match their specific company culture, industry or client requirements may have different or additional elements or may place greater emphasis on a specific element. For an example, a company in the chemical industry will place greater significance on chemical exposure risks in its hazard identification process as an important component of their management system versus a logistics operations facility where chemical exposure is very low. In this scenario, the company can implement a process that includes a well-developed and executed industrial hygiene assessment program to ensure employees are properly protected and appropriate controls are in place and maintained.
Steps in Developing an Integrated EHS/ESG Management System
The steps for developing an integrated EHS/ESG management system are similar to the process for developing a specific management system. However, the evaluation of EHS/ESG risks are considered as a whole to prioritize and determine comprehensive risk controls to meet regulatory requirements and programmatic goals and objectives. Also, there are fundamental elements within a single management system that span across all management systems to create standards for performing integrated tasks (e.g., roles & responsibilities, management review, documentation, etc.). The preferred approach follows the Plan, Do, Check and Act (PDCA) model described by the ISO standards. The time-tested PDCA approach is used by thousands of organizations to achieve continual improvement.
Step 1: Securing Leadership Engagement and Commitment
Step 2: Using a Team Approach
Step 3: Develop the Vision Statement
Step 4: Assess the Company’s Readiness
Before launching into the integration process, it is helpful to conduct a self-examination of the organization to determine if it is ready to develop and/or integrate its EHS/ESG management systems. Some typical questions include:
- Why integrate the organization’s EHS/ESG management systems?
- How will the integration steps benefit the organization?
- What is our anticipated investment for the integration?
- How do we determine the return on our investment?
- What are the anticipated hurdles and barriers we are likely to encounter?
- How will we overcome the hurdles and barriers?
Step 5: Design the System
Step 6: Develop and Implement the System
Step 7: Review the System
Benefits and Value of an Integrated Information Management System for EHS/ESG Risks
A successfully integrated EHS/ESG management system is strengthened through the establishment of a well-designed and implemented information management system. Information provided through the EHS/ESG management system helps confirm compliance with applicable requirements, evaluate trends in EHS/ESG performance and provides management the feedback that the system is working. When it comes time to integrate EHS/ESG data and information into reports, the information can be pulled from a single repository that is standardized and used across all the organization’s facilities. This provides an improvement in efficiency and quality over traditional practices of synthesizing reports from many disconnected data and information sources.
Pitfalls and Obstacles to Avoid When Integrating an EHS/ESG Management System
As outlined above, the steps in developing an EHS/ESG management system are critical. There can be severe consequences, such as implementation cost overruns, slowed implementation due to re-design and adoption of a system that doesn’t adequately control EHS/ESG risks and thus doesn’t protect employee safety, the community and environment.
One of the most critical pitfalls to avoid is lack of organizational leadership support in the development and implementation of the integrated EHS/ESG management system. Lack of leadership support will likely result in poor outcomes related to inadequately designed and implemented systems. In addition, other factors impacting appropriate implementation includes adoption, training, adequate funding and an organizational culture that acknowledges and values the EHS/ESG management system.
Learn More About Our Integrated Approach
This insights post is a follow up to our recent white paper Managing EHS & ESG Risks Through Integrated Systems. TRC offers integrated EHS services that help organizations better manage EHS and ESG associated risks and improve performance at the corporate and plant levels.