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Environment, health & safety (EHS) programs

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Historically, the control of safety and health has been driven by occupational health and safety regulations. Health and safety programmes arose from the need to protect workers from occupational hazards and to ensure a productive workforce. It was restricted to those issues which arose within the workplace.

The growing number of regulations concerning impacts that take place beyond the factory gate meant that environmental issues needed to be incorporated into operational practice. Many companies expanded their existing health and safety policies and procedures to include the outside environment. In some cases, 'environment' includes the workplace itself.

The emphasis placed on environment relative to health and safety varies from company to company. Some developed comprehensive environment, health and safety (EHS) programmes, while others preferred to establish a separate program to address environmental issues.

Growing public concern over environmental degradation, coupled with increasing regulation, has encouraged businesses to take their EHS responsibilities seriously.

An essential part of managing EHS issues in the workplace is reporting. Many companies issue annual EHS reports, to communicate commitments and targets to external stakeholders. Some choose to report their on environmental issues separately from those for health and safety. Others may not produce stand-alone reports at all, but simply include the information in their annual report.

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