Roles in Manufacturing: Environment, Health, and Safety (EH&S)

A detailed explanation of the duties, responsibilities, and education levels of the Environment, health, and Safety team in a manufacturing facility.

Hello again đź‘‹.

Welcome back to the Roles in Manufacturing series where I am giving you an introduction to the different job roles that exist in manufacturing companies.

In the previous parts of the series, I introduced you to the role of the quality team in a manufacturing company.

In this part of the series, we will learn what the environment, health, and safety (EH&S) team does in a manufacturing plant and what training or education is required to work as part of the EH&S team.

Before we move on, I would like to take a moment to introduce myself to anyone who might be new to the blog.

My name is Ken Bourke and I have worked as an automation professional for almost a decade. During this time, I have worked on large global projects in different industries around the world.

In the last year, I have started producing content online to share my knowledge through free blog posts and free or very reasonably priced courses.

If you get some value out of this post then consider checking out my courses, joining the mailing list using the form at the bottom of this page, or, if you’re feeling very generous, buying me a coffee using the Buy Me a Coffee widget on this page.

With that bit of shameless self-promotion out of the way, let’s get back to talking about the EH&S team in manufacturing facilities.

Environment, Health, and Safety (EH&S) Team

Unfortunately, factories can be very dangerous places.

There are many things that can harm the people working in factories. Harm can come from environmental conditions like extreme heat or toxic fumes.

It can also come from mechanical equipment like robots and fork trucks that can cause crushing, striking, and pinning injuries. Almost every piece of machinery in a factory could do serious harm to a person if there was no guarding in place.

On top of these serious risks, mundane tasks also present an issue. Someone working in an unergonomic position may develop a Repetitive Strain Injury or someone walking up the stairs may slip and fall.

To mitigate these risks, factories employ a team of people to look after Environment, Health, and Safety issues in the factory. Collectively, these people are responsible for evaluating risks and defining mitigations for serious risks using safety equipment and procedures.

The EH&S team is responsible for enforcing safety-related rules in a factory. A big part of their role is ensuring that workers are using the required Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) properly and that everyone working in the factory has completed all of their required safety training.

Education and Training

Very often, members of the EH&S team do not have an engineering background. They are more likely to have a Human Resources background.

This means that, in general, EH&S staff are not technical but may develop experience with safety-related technical equipment, like safety light curtains, through safety improvement projects.

Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)

The EH&S team’s performance is judged based on the number of safety incidents that occur at a plant.

A commonly tracked metric is the number of days since a lost time accident. A lost time accident is an accident where a person was injured badly enough that they could not continue their work, even for a very short period.

Factories may also track the number of near misses. Near misses are incidents that could have, but did not, lead to an injury. An example of a near miss would be if a robot started when someone was in the cell but the person managed to avoid injury. In this case, there was not a lost-time accident but there could have been.

In either case, the EH&S team would be responsible for evaluating the cause of the accident or near miss and putting controls in place to avoid similar incidents from happening in the future.

Wrap Up

In this post, I introduced you to the EH&S team in a manufacturing facility as part of my Roles in Manufacturing series.

I explained what the EH&S team does, what education and training is required to work on the EH&S team, and what their KPIs are.

In the next part of the series, I’ll introduce you to the Plant Manager, who is responsible for all aspects of a plant’s performance.

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