In the short term combining Health & Safety and Environment (often written as HSE, SHE or EHS) means cost savings are frequently derived from the reduction in support staff and resources provided to the combined function. However, the pressure on HSE staff to become generalists tends with time to remove or dilute specialist skills. Increasingly we hear organisations say that they are looking to retain the skills to specify and manage external specialist resource rather than have them in—house in the belief this will cut costs and keep the organisation lean and responsive.
This move towards generalist combined EHS functions and reliance on out-sourced resource can leave organisations ill-equipped to respond to significant events as they arise. But hope is on the horizon, as the rapid development of IT infrastructure, tools and services provides the means for organisations to utilise their resources more effectively. As needs dictate, an organisation can ‘plug in’ the necessary new skills and resources quickly and easily. IT solutions can help organisations in at least three key ways: by providing access to expert systems, knowledge and tools; by bringing E, H and S together effectively; and by bringing experts and supply chains together seamlessly’.