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​​Just what are environmental health and safety specialists looking for anyway? Here are the first 50

Workers at a chemical plant inspect an area under a tank.

EHS specialists are looking at many of the same occupational safety standards as OSHA

Environmental health and safety is a department or position found in most large companies and organizations. But they and many smaller industries and manufacturers can—and often do—bring in outside consultants and specialists to help establish a variety of safety protocols, training programs, and inspect overall environmental compliance rules that prevent that guard against hefty OSHA fines, worker injuries and worker’s comp claims, and public health or PR disasters. 

Environmental health and safety standards are a subset of overall OSHA health and safety regulations, and specialists check to ensure those standards are uniformly and consistently applied. They include everything from proper chemical assessment, inventory development or validation, proper labeling of facilities, and more. 

EHS specialists and consulting services are cheaper than OSHA penalties

On-site EHS specialists and those without EHS teams can benefit from occasional third-party reviews and consulting services because day-to-day job responsibilities often make existing staff and leadership “blind” to many problems and issues. A good environmental safety consultant knows all of the most recent OSHA regulations and benefits from being “fresh” in a facility where people become desensitized to small issues or problems.

When an environmental health specialist or OSHA inspector walks through a facility, they’re looking for:

  1. Adequate ventilation systems
  2. Proper storage and disposal of hazardous materials
  3. Compliance with local, state, and federal regulations
  4. Emergency response plans and procedures
  5. Personal protective equipment (PPE) availability and usage
  6. Machine guarding and safety protocols
  7. Electrical safety measures
  8. Fire prevention and suppression systems
  9. Chemical spill containment measures
  10. Noise levels and hearing protection measures
  11. Ergonomic workstation design
  12. Waste management practices
  13. Indoor air quality monitoring
  14. Confined space entry protocols
  15. Fall protection systems
  16. Proper labeling of hazardous substances
  17. Maintenance of safety equipment
  18. Hazard communication training for employees
  19. Inspection and maintenance of fire extinguishers
  20. Safety signage and labeling
  21. Compliance with OSHA standards
  22. Emergency eyewash and shower stations
  23. Lockout/tagout procedures for equipment maintenance
  24. First aid kits and medical emergency preparedness
  25. Respiratory protection programs
  26. Prevention of slips, trips, and falls
  27. Inspection of scaffolding and elevated work platforms
  28. Material handling and storage procedures
  29. Inspection of pressure vessels and boilers
  30. Control of hazardous energy (lockout/tagout)
  31. Inspection of welding and cutting operations
  32. Radiation safety measures (if applicable)
  33. Inspection of lifting equipment (e.g., cranes, hoists)
  34. Stormwater management and pollution prevention
  35. Inspection of wastewater treatment systems
  36. Emergency lighting and exit signage
  37. Inspection of compressed gas storage and handling
  38. Monitoring of air emissions
  39. Safety training records and documentation
  40. Inspection of chemical handling areas
  41. Prevention of musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs)
  42. Monitoring of occupational exposure levels (e.g., noise, chemicals)
  43. Inspection of emergency response equipment (e.g., spill kits)
  44. Compliance with environmental permits
  45. Inspection of personal hygiene facilities (e.g., restrooms)
  46. Inspection of powered industrial trucks (forklifts)
  47. Assessment of ergonomic hazards in office areas
  48. Inspection of fire alarm systems
  49. Compliance with hazardous waste disposal regulations
  50. Evaluation of safety culture and employee involvement in safety initiatives.

That’s just the first 50 things. Some of these items, like fire code and fire prevention assessments, overlap with what are commonly referred to as “life safety programs” and they all may overlap with local or regional regulations. 

When VPC staff come to a facility, we’re looking for all of these and more. We can also help establish or develop strategies for in-house teams to develop or deploy new training programs that are proven to protect workers. 

Occupational health extends to air quality and other environmental regulations

Environmental health includes internal industrial hygiene and compliance with OSHA regulations inside a manufacturing or industrial facility. But state and federal health regulations and environmental laws often overlap with external environmental regulations. 

Improperly stored chemicals inside a facility, for instance, risks spilling or vaporizing into the air, which impacts air quality and environmental health for neighboring watersheds, drinking water quality, homes and businesses, and the natural environment.

Top-performing EHS specialists and consultants ensure compliance that prevents these hazardous conditions and provides corrective actions, even for the transportation of hazardous materials. 

Often just moving or labeling hazards is enough to help private companies reduce PR risks, liability, lawsuits, insurance costs, and protect public health. Other times training employees to be detail-oriented can produce long-term benefits. 

Often, a highly trained EHS consultant or specialist can pay for themselves like a good insurance policy. But like many safety programs or insurance policies, the costs are obvious on balance sheets. You have to trust and know the savings are — if done well — never apparent because safety issues and potential hazards never or rarely happen.

Hire an environmental health specialist for a consult

VPC has multiple environmental health specialist staff with decades of experience and the skills required to walk on-site at your facility with you for one-on-one:

  • EHS audits
  • Risk assessments
  • Strategy and training design reviews
  • Employee training 
  • OSHA 10- and 30-hour courses
  • On-site HAZWOPER training
  • Documentation and reporting
  • Compliance documentation
  • And more

To start a no-risk conversation about your facility risk assessments and environmental health and safety regulations, contact VPC or request a consultation online. 

VPC staff are among the only EHS specialists who travel to work on-site at your facility with your staff or teams and provide on-site consultation and/or training when necessary. All saving you time and transportation costs and providing your team with customized assessments tailored to your industry, facility, community, and operation.

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