Outsourcing Can Save Overextended EHS Departments

With all the demands on an organization’s time, it makes sense for certain functions to be outsourced. For areas like facility maintenance, outsourcing is an obvious choice, but many don’t consider outsourcing Environmental, Health, and Safety (EHS) programs. Research institutions, healthcare companies, and universities, among others, incur substantial costs from maintaining their EHS programs each year. As these programs become more costly and time-consuming due to new requirements, staff turnover, or a particularly time-intensive project, sub-contracting may be the best option for many organizations.

Comprehensive program development

Staffing your own EHS team has its benefits, but in some cases, particularly for smaller organizations, it may be difficult to know where to begin building a program. In this case, outsourcing to an EHS service provider can be a smart strategy, even if it’s only on a temporary basis. For example, a research consortium that was building a brand new facility called on Woodard & Curran to help create an EHS program from the ground up. The firm was able to develop all the necessary programs, and provided training to the staff while taking on full-time program management until the facility was running smoothly.

For those in a similar situation, this service can be absolutely invaluable. Depending on the complexity of the regulations an organization is subject to, it might be more practical to have personnel train with an outside expert and then take over management themselves. On the other hand, having an EHS service provider act as a full-time manager, preparing permit applications, filing required reports, and conducting routine inspections can save time and money. Though a vast range of institutions need EHS programs, these programs might not comprise a large component of their core business. Outsourcing this type of work frees up valuable time that can be spent accomplishing an organization’s essential goals.

Affordable access to a range of experts

One of the biggest benefits of working with an experienced EHS consultant is access to a range of skills and experience. While you might hire someone to support a specific aspect of your EHS program, like air emissions reporting or hazardous waste management, they bring a whole team of experts who can step in when unexpected needs arise. And simply having another set of eyes on-site can uncover areas for improvement that may have gone overlooked.

A major concern for most organizations is the cost of running an EHS program, and many assume that creating and managing EHS internally will keep costs down. In fact, outsourcing can boost efficiency while minimizing costs. This is because staffing your own team and building a program from scratch might cost more in terms of time and resources than it yields in returns. Outside experts provide your organization with a team that’s already well versed in the job to be done and equipped with all the necessary skills. Additionally, having qualified experts to mitigate risks at your facility inherently reduces liability and helps operations run more smoothly and safely.

Up-to-date knowledge of changing requirements

Compliance with state and federal regulations can be challenging for any organization, especially for one whose main focus isn’t EHS. Outsourcing these programs can be a dependable way to ensure compliance with all local, federal, and state regulations. A good EHS provider will always be up to date on regulatory changes, enabling them to anticipate compliance issues before they occur. Even if outsourcing full-time management for these services isn’t the best choice for your organization, hiring an EHS provider to survey operations periodically for compliance concerns can be a smart way to keep your institution on the right track.

Choosing the right provider

After deciding to outsource, finding the right EHS provider is important as it can contribute to an organization’s peace of mind and long-term success. When considering EHS providers, here are some questions for evaluating which one will be the right fit.

  • What is the provider’s experience with my organization’s environment (e.g., manufacturing, research, healthcare, education)? This is not a hard-and-fast limitation if a provider is new to your line of work, but because the styles, personnel, and needs of a research facility differ from those of a manufacturing facility, understanding these differences is important.
  • What is the provider’s experience with implementing EHS programs? Some consultants write plans, procedures, training programs, and permits and then hand them off to the hiring organization. Working with staff to ensure the programs are implemented and supported on an ongoing basis requires skills beyond simply knowing regulatory requirements.
  • Who supports onsite staff? Are support teams available for the onsite staff to rely on for special expertise? It’s reassuring to know the provider’s on-site team has the expertise of the entire EHS organization available to them.
  • What value does the provider offer? This can be a challenging question, but keep in mind that value can come in the form of a robust on-site team with a great deal of support as described above, the ability to quickly assess how much support your organization needs, or the convenience of not having to manage and fund an internal EHS staff.

There are other important considerations, such as cost of services and professional conduct, but leading with these questions can help you weigh your options.


David MacDonald Business Development Leader Environment & Remediation

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