E2 ManageTech

A Benchmark Study of EMIS Performance and Effectiveness

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This article presents some of the results and conclusions drawn from a recent online, inter-industry survey of companies using EMIS tools to manage their environmental, health, and safety data.


The final quarter of the 20th century saw two major changes that greatly affected industry: the advent of environmental, health, and safety (EH&S) awareness, and the computing revolution. From the first EH&S legislation laid down by governments, both domestically and internationally, the effort required by individual organizations to maintain regulatory compliance became, in many cases, overwhelming. Organizations were sent scrambling to interpret and comply with new laws and regulations. Concurrently, exponential strides in computing technology were being achieved with personal, network, and remote application and database technologies becoming increasingly powerful. As the 20th century came to a close, the necessary marriage of these two industries was inevitable. The reason? Data.

Toward the end of last century, EH&S managers began to realize that using information technology to streamline EH&S data collection, manipulation, and reporting would not only save them valuable time and money, but also increase accuracy of data and EH&S awareness throughout an organization.

As technology awareness increases, many EH&S professionals are asking questions such as, “Where is the EH&S management information system (EMIS) industry today?” and “How are my peers using EMIS technology?” These are the questions that Environmental Data Solutions Group (EDSG) set out to answer when it sponsored a benchmarking, inter-industry survey on EMIS tools and methods.

In the third quarter of 2001, EDSG collected data from an online survey of nearly 3000 facilities from a cross-section of industries, including chemical, oil and gas, pulp and paper, electric utility, general manufacturing, and semiconductor industries, to determine what EMIS tools and functions are in use today within organizations domestically and internationally.

Additionally, the survey touched on the cost of EMIS procurement, development, and implementation, and the estimated benefits (labor savings and cost savings) achieved from EMIS implementation. The results of the survey and a brief discussion on what they mean are presented below.

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