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Safety, Health & Environment (SHE)

Author: Prof Johan Nel ~ Executive Manager, Centre for Environmental Management (CEM), North West University (Potchefstroom Campus)

( Article Type: Overview )

(From S, H and E Management to Integrated SHERQ management systems: latest trends and developments)

Effective and appropriate safety, health and environmental management is a critical component of sustainable business practice. Traditionally fragmented and disjointed safety, health and environmental management (abbreviated to SHE) arrangements are increasingly being integrated into an efficient SHERQms (safety, health, environmental, risk and quality management system). Integrated SHERQ-based management systems, or an integrated SHERQms is indeed the strategy of choice of most progressive line managers. Integration however, entails much more than the alignment of traditionally separated SHE programmes.

Business integration

Firstly, it entails integration of traditional SHE programmes that were often perceived as ‘added on’ staff functions, to the actual business or line functions of organisations. Business integration is best achieved by viewing SHE management as supporting business processes that inform key and other supporting business processes.

Risk-based SHE management

Integration of SHE practices with business processes is also enhanced by the adoption of a risk aversive approach to business management, where both business and traditional SHE risks are identified, assessed and managed within an integrated riskreduction programme. SHE risks are addressed as business risks.

Management system approach

Business integration is also enhanced by the adoption of a management system format to deliver integrated business and SHE programmes. Management systems are designed around the classical Deming Plan-Do-Check-Act (PDCA) management cycle. Line managers readily adopt the PDCA cycle as it forms the basis for almost all line management models or strategies.

Expansion of SHE programmes

The adoption of an integrated business and SHE management approach, within the framework of reducing business risks, often amounts to the extension of the SHE programmes to include supporting business processes that traditionally may not have been serviced at all, such as: contractor management, purchasing, strategic planning, insurance, design, as well as financial management functions and services, etc. The scope of most of the SHE management programmes is often also extended to include supply chain management as well as product stewardship that may traditionally have received marginal SHE attention. The traditional scope of environmental management is also expanded to include elements of corporate social responsibility.

Quality management

An addition to the traditional SHE management stable is quality management based on ISO 9001:2000 as SHE management portfolios are also integrated with quality management programmes.

Benefits of integrated SHERQ management systems

Benefits of an integrated and risk-based SHERQms include:

  • Elimination of wasteful turf wars between line and traditional staff SHE functions
  • Elimination of costly duplication of fragmented SHE management arrangements
  • Increased confidence of all stakeholders that all risks are comprehensively identified, assessed and managed
  • Improved efficiency of all business processes
  • Enhanced performance tracking and reporting opportunities
  • Improved SHE performance
  • Multi-skilling of SHERQ-professionals.

Drivers for the swing towards Integrated SHERQms

  • Stakeholder demands
  • Demands for resource efficiency improvement
  • Corporate governance demands
  • Increased risk exposures.