Environment, health and safety

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Health, Safety and Environment (HSE) is an umbrella term for the laws, rules, guidance and processes designed to help protect employees, the public and the environment from harm. In the workplace, the responsibilities for designing and implementing appropriate procedures is often assigned to a specific department, often called the "HSE" department which is responsible for environmental protection, occupational health and safety at work. HSE management has two general objectives: prevention of incidents or accidents that might result from abnormal operating conditions and reduction of adverse effects that result from normal operating conditions.[1]

Regulatory requirements play an important role in the role and HSE managers must identify and understand relevant HSE regulations, the implications of which must be communicated to executive management so the company can implement suitable measures. Organisations based in the United States are subject to EHS regulations in the Code of Federal Regulations, particularly CFR 29, 40, and 49. Still, EHS management is not limited to legal compliance and companies should be encouraged to do more than is required by law, if appropriate.[2]

From a health & safety standpoint, it involves creating organized efforts and procedures for identifying workplace hazards and reducing accidents and exposure to harmful situations and substances. It also includes training of personnel in accident prevention, accident response, emergency preparedness, and use of protective clothing and equipment.

From an environmental standpoint, it involves creating a systematic approach to complying with environmental regulations, such as managing waste or air emissions all the way to helping site's reduce the company's carbon footprint.

Successful HSE programs also include measures to address ergonomics, air quality, and other aspects of workplace safety that could affect the health and well-being of employees and the overall community.

Other names[edit]

HSE goes by a number of acronyms which may exclude environment or include security and quality.[3]

Acronym Name Group
OHS Occupational Health and Safety Occupational Health and Safety
HSE Health, Safety and Environment Health, Safety and Environment
EHS / EH&S Environment, Health and Safety
SHE Safety, Health and Environment
QHSE Quality, Health, Safety, and Environment Quality, Health, Safety, and Environment
HSEQ Health, Safety, Environment and Quality
HSSE Health, Safety, Security and Environment Health, Safety, Security and Environment
QHSSE Quality, Health, Safety, Security, and Environment Quality, Health, Safety, Security, and Environment
HSSEQ Quality, Health, Safety, Security, and Environment

Regulatory Agencies[edit]

United States[edit]

  • Federal / International
    • Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA)
    • Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
    • Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC)
    • Mining Safety & Health Administration (MSHA), etc.
    • European Union (EU Standards) –Health & Safety At Work Act
  • State
    • Safety & Health Council of North Carolina, Massachusetts Nuclear Regulatory Commission, etc.
  • Local
    • Fire Department, Building Code Inspections

General categories[edit]

EHS guidelines cover categories specific to each industry as wells as those that are general to most industry sectors. Examples of general categories and subcategories are:

1. Environmental
1.1 Air Emissions and Ambient Air Quality

1.2 Energy Conservation

1.3 Wastewater and Ambient Water Quality

1.4 Water Conservation

1.5 Hazardous Materials Management

1.6 Waste Management

1.7 Noise

1.8 Contaminated Land

2. Occupational Health and Safety
2.1 General Facility Design and Operation

2.2 Communication and Training

2.3 Physical Hazards

2.4 Chemical Hazards

2.5 Biological Hazards

2.6 Radiological Hazards

2.7 Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

2.8 Special Hazard Environments

2.9 Monitoring

3. Community Health and Safety
3.1 Water Quality and Availability

3.2 Structural Safety of Project Infrastructure

3.3 Life and Fire Safety (L&FS)

3.4 Traffic Safety

3.5 Transport of Hazardous Materials

3.6 Disease Prevention

3.7 Emergency Preparedness and Response

4. Construction and Decommissioning
4.1 Environment

4.2 Occupational Health and Safety

4.3 Community Health and Safety

Specific Categories[edit]


The chemical industry introduced the first formal EHS management approach in 1985 as a reaction to several catastrophic accidents (like the Seveso disaster of July 1976 and the Bhopal disaster of December 1984). This worldwide voluntary initiative, called "Responsible Care", started by the Chemistry Industry Association of Canada (formerly the Canadian Chemical Producers' Association - CCPA), operates in about 50 countries, with central coordination provided by the International Council of Chemical Associations (ICCA). It involves eight fundamental features which ensure plant and product safety, occupational health and environmental protection, but which also try to demonstrate by image-building campaigns that the chemical industry acts in a responsible manner. Still, this initiative is restricted[by whom?] to the chemical industry.

Since the 1990s, general approaches to EHS management that may fit any type of organisation have appeared in international standards such as:

In 1998 the International Finance Corporation established EHS guidelines.


As a typical[quantify] example, the activities of a Health, Safety and Environment (HSE) working group might focus on:[4]

  • exchange of know-how regarding health-, safety- and environmental aspects of a material
  • promotion of good working practices, such as post-use material collection for recycling

See also[edit]

External links[edit]


  1. ^ Stephan, Constantin (2012), Industrial Health, Safety and Environmental Management, MV Wissenschaft, Muenster, 3rd edition 2012, ISBN 978-3-86582-452-3
  2. ^ Kavianian, Hamid R. "Occupational and Environmental Safety Engineering and Management", Van Norstrand Reinhold Company, New York (1990), ISBN 0-442-23822-3
  3. ^ "H&S, OHS, HSE, HSSE, HSSEQ, HSSEQ/CSR … Alphabet Soupization". Redlog Environmental Ltd. 2016-03-14. Retrieved 2016-06-08. 
  4. ^ Compare: TEPPFA. "Structure of Working Groups & Application Groups". TEPPFA, The European Plastic Pipes and Fittings Association. Retrieved 2016-07-19. Concentrates on: [...] exchange of know-how regarding health- safety- and environmental aspects of plastic pipes and fittings; [...] promotion of good working practices, such as post use material collection for recycling.