When we started our sustainability program in 2006 we had a lot of debate on what to name the program. Was it Environmental Stewardship, corporate responsibility, global citizenship? There are many legitimate names for these programs that seek to reduce companies' impacts on the environment, our employees and the communities in which we operate.
The lines between EHS and sustainability are blurring. Especially with ISO 14000 programs that seek to prevent pollution and reduce significant impacts, there is a great opportunity for EHS staff to get involved with sustainability development, allowing increased interaction with product managers, customers and executives.
But, compliance needs to come first. I learned that the hard way.
It's critical to have EHS staff involved in sustainability, and maybe they are the most qualified to run these programs; they have technical backgrounds, understand operations and care about employees.
Not all EHS staff are passionate about environmental protection. But not all are Sustainability managers can put together a LOTO or hazcom training, either. That's ok. There's plenty of room across our field for many practitioners.
Each company can figure out how EHS and sustainability fit together. To me, it seems like a nice fit.