The Case for an Integrated Quality Management and EHS System

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Courtesy of EtQ, LLC

By bringing together quality management and environmental health and safety (EHS), the integrated QEHS system is a powerful proposition that delivers a real return on investment over relatively short timescales

As increasing numbers of organizations embrace the benefits of enterprise quality management systems, it’s only natural to consider other opportunities for greater automation of key functions and processes. One obvious contender is the organization’s environmental, health and safety (EHS) program. As is the case with quality, organizations have often managed EHS on a piecemeal basis, allowing every function and department to manage the key issues independently, even though this leaves data and process locked in silos that get in the way of visibility and control. Manual processing has also been the norm.

Standalone enterprise-wide systems for EHS do now exist, but organizations considering this option may be at risk of simply bringing several silos together to create one large – but still isolated – EHS silo, rather than solving the problem. A better solution would be to move to an integrated quality management and EHS system that brings the discipline of quality management to environmental, health and safety processes.

Crucially, quality and EHS are a very natural fit. Not only are these two concepts inter-dependent for most organizations, but the business drivers in both areas are very similar. An integrated health, safety, environmental and quality (QEHS) system provides an opportunity to confront those inter-dependencies head on, responding to the same set of drivers with a unified approach, rather than potentially answering the same questions twice over.

In practice, the overlap is considerable. A QEHS system can give your organization much enhanced abilities to:

  • Ensure the safety, security and reliability of all your operations
  • Prevent unplanned incidents and events, and co-ordinate the most effective response where these do occur
  • Produce safe and effective products
  • Increase organizational effectiveness through improved quality, safety and security
  • Engage with internal and external stakeholders on the issues that matter to them
  • Safeguard and transfer knowledge throughout the organization
  • Underpin the organization’s license to operate from customers, employees and other key stakeholders.

What we’re really talking about here is operational excellence – the ability to confront potential problems as they develop in real time, based on effective data analytics and reporting, and to respond to challenges in the most timely and effective way possible. And to secure these abilities, your organization needs far greater visibility over quality and EHS, as well as a means to exert control over what you see.

An integrated QEHS can therefore be a powerful proposition, offering much greater total value than the sum of its individual parts – and delivering a real return on investment over relatively short timescales.

Organizations determined to pursue quality and the highest standards of EHS performance have to find ways to allow people to continue to function effectively in their own departments, while supporting information-sharing and collaboration at an enterprise-wide level. Your QEHS system potentially gives you the means to do exactly that, ensuring consistency of process and information across the organization, providing one version of the truth and delivering common reporting standards, while allowing and enabling all your employees to get on with their day jobs.

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