Whether you are building a single-story house or a 50-story high-rise, you
start at the same place: the foundation. Why do you do this? Because you know
that without a solid foundation, the building will crumble.
The same is
true for your organizations environmental health and safety efforts. Without
a solid foundation, your efforts will crumble - often at the expense of
human life, injury or organization finances.
What is this foundation for
your environmental health and safety? What, when properly implemented, will create
a firm foundation upon which you can build the safety of your employees, building
occupants, outside vendors and others?
the past several months, weve looked at some of the more common environmental
health and safety hazards and the basic techniques for addressing those hazards.
While each of these is unique, they do all have the similarity that to successfully
manage these hazards, any practices need to be built on the foundation of effective
This creates another problem though. Namely, what is effective
communication? This month well focus on the common parties with which you
need to communicate, an example of the information that needs to be communicated
and some techniques to successfully communicate that information.
struggle with regard to effective communication is determining who needs to receive
the information. With the involvement of so many parties, its often difficult
to determine whom you need to make aware of environmental health and safety issues.
Some of these are obvious, some you may have overlooked, but all need to understand
the potential environmental health and safety hazards they face at your job site.
Below is a list of some potential parties that may need to be supplied with information
during your next project.
- Building owner
- Health and
- Regulatory agencies
- Building occupants/subcontractors
- General public
What to say
Now that you understand some of
the parties with which you need to communicate, what do you need to tell them?
The difficulty is that the necessary information varies by hazard type. Some of
the information is required, some is just good practice, but all is important.
look at an example of the flow of communication regarding asbestos in a construction
project for a school. This will give you an idea of some information that may
need to be communicated.
- The building owner must be made aware of
the asbestos issue before beginning the project and the potential impact that
it can have on the project.
- The environmental health and safety
consultant must be made aware of the issue and they must perform the mandatory
- The architect/designer
should then use the information gathered in the inspection and develop a plan
for how to manage the issue in the construction process.
bids must be solicited from abatement contractors and a contractor selected to
perform the abatement activities. If any new asbestos is discovered throughout
the entire construction process, it must be communicated to the building owner
within 24 hours.
- Appropriate notices and permits must be filed
with regulatory agencies. In this case, it includes the notice of intent to perform
renovation or demolition activities.
- Employees working in or
around the area must be informed of the potential hazards as required by the Occupational
Safety and Health Administrations construction hazard.
Building occupants and subcontractors need to be made aware of the hazard by the
building being properly regulated through sufficient barriers and the posting
of warning signs.
- Waste must be labeled and manifested for transportation
to the landfill. The manifest must be returned to the building owner following
- The school needs to communicate the presence of asbestos
to the general public through annual asbestos notifications.
what information you need to supply to whom is important, but often it is difficult
to determine how to do just that. Fortunately for you, we live in the information
age. Communication has truly never been easier than it is right now. With the
advent of communication tools such as the Internet, e-mail, cell phones and other
technological tools, you have numerous tools to communicate environmental health
and safety hazards to affected parties.
The key to succeeding with these
tactics is proper organization of the necessary information so it is easy for
you and the affected parties to work with. All affected parties need to know where
to find the needed information in the event of an emergency.
is president of Environmental Management Consulting Inc.