Do your “low risk” facilities get enough attention?

On two occasions now in the past few years I have been sitting in a meeting room with client prospects (mainly senior or corporate EHS managers around the world), and the fire alarm has sounded. On the first occasion, my hosts and I went to exit the nearest marked fire exit, only to find it was padlocked shut, from the outside. Luckily it was only a drill. On the second occasion, our meeting kept on going; the alarm (still ringing in our ears) dismissed by my hosts as “just testing the alarms” and we would not have to move. After 10 minutes of this, there was a realization that actually, maybe this wasn’t a test, or a drill. It was neither. We were lucky again that the fire was in another part of the office block. Both the aforementioned prospects did become clients!

I have heard several similar stories from contacts around the world; the rope ladder fire escape on the 5th floor of an office block in Cairo, that only reached down to the 2nd floor, being one such good example.

It seems logical that offices (and to a certain extent retail, service centres, datacentres and warehouses) are often seen as “low-risk” type operations compared to industrial/manufacturing sites. It is therefore understandable that companies tend to focus their time and budgets on their greatest risks. However, be very careful not to take you eye off the “low-risk” ball. We have seen growing evidence of enforcement cases (in the UK and US particularly) relating to such locations; the numbers of ergonomics-related injuries (often associated with desk work) continue to be high; and in our experience the rates of non-compliance with legal requirements can be just as high as for higher-risk operations.

In 2013 Enhesa carried out more than 80 EHS compliance audits at office-based facilities in more than 20 countries around the world. You may be surprised to hear that on average we audited against 255 applicable legal requirements per country. Although this is typically around 40% less than the requirement faced by industrial manufacturing sites, it is still a significant amount of EHS legal obligations your “low risk” sites generally have to contend with. Of equal note is the fact that we found an average of 13% non-compliances against these requirements (in fact, we found an average of 23% non-compliance in Asia compared to Europe at 9% and the America’s at 10%). Most of these non-compliances tend to be in relation to fire safety; risk assessments and ergonomics issues. Perhaps most interesting of all, this is pretty much in line with the percentage that we find in manufacturing facilities. So whereas there may indeed be somewhat fewer requirements to meet, and perceptions of risk are lower, in our experience this does not mean that office sites are any more compliant than industrial sites.

In our experience there are a whole variety of factors at play as to why companies struggle to meet their compliance obligations: who is responsible (landlord or tenant)? What are the specific local requirements? Unusual local requirements can also catch you off guard. For example, In India businesses must keep equipment on site for the treatment of persons with electrical shock, such as wooden sticks to remove the person from the source of the shock.

The moral of the story is clear. Offices are as much a part of your EH&S remit as your factories.

Tjeerd Hendel-Blackford

Enhesa will be sponsoring the global risk management track at the IOSH Conference in June. The Conference Track will include a roundtable discussion focussing on the low vs high-risk H&S challenges.

– Blog originally posted at:“low-risk”-facilities-get-enough-attention-#sthash.71lCt8YQ.dpuf


What people are saying about our webinar on risk reduction!

esurance-facebook-feedbackWhen asked in the exit survey, what did you find most interesting about the webinar, take a look at some of the responses we received!

What did you find most interesting about the webinar?

“A new vision about EHS people roles”

“A new way of looking at programs in the bigger picture.”

“First webinar I attended till the end – very usefull, everything? Thanks.”

“I like the idea of working together rather than being the policeman. This presentation has provided ideas that may help bridge the gap between management, operations and EH&S employees.”

“How important it is for EHS to “”talk finance”” in order to become a business partner. EHS professionals need to be more operational leader rather than technical experts.”

“The ideas associated with assigning additional value ot EHS and aligning the function with business overall goals.”

“I liked the doors and the process steps to reach full EHS integration into the business.”

“It’s absolutely true the fact that is difficult to create a risk reduction culture and the best way to create it is stopping being a hero. Nowadays it’s more possible since management is more aware than 2 or 3 years ago.”

“The fact that EHS Advisor should not be the hero but should be leader of EHS teammates was a very nice way to represent my situation”

“The importance of partnerships with operations management”


There’s still time left to join our session tomorrow at 11:00 AM EST (NYC Time)! Don’t miss out.

You can follow this link to register:

Enhesa issued 94 reports on major global enforcement cases in Q2 2013


Laws and regulations increased immensely in 2012 and, as Enhesa predicted, enforcement practices are on the rise in 2013.

From April til the end of June, Enhesa Experts wrote:

56 reports surrounding new enforcement legislation, policy, guidance and proposals in the queue 

3 reports on jurisprudence cases (major penalties to business)

35 reports on background enforcement news (inspections, criminal penalties, and organizational changes, particularly in China, Europe, Colombia, Nigeria, South Africa, Korea and the US)

Don’t be fearful of enforcement – be forward thinking

To stay on top of these emerging global enforcement issues, Enhesa has launched the Enforcement Tracker, a monitoring service tailored to enforcement actions and legislation. It’s an essential tool created for EHS Directors and Managers to access global enforcement information from one reliable source.

Issues are tracked on a monthly basis, analyzed by Enhesa’s in-house Experts, and summarized in reports that are delivered through a single, online portal and searchable database. Below are the issues included for 50 selected jurisdictions:

  • Unique legislation/proposals related to enforcement
  • Novel materials/announcements regarding government enforcement programs
  • Drastic enforcement outcomes such as large fines, shutdowns, and prison terms for Directors, VPs, and Senior-level Management receiving heightened attention
  • Major judicial precedents and outstanding enforcement cases likely to influence the ongoing enforcement practices in a jurisdiction
  • The Enforcement Tracker has several additional benefits. You also receive access to the full list of legislation, as well as thorough snapshot on how the legislation is enforced in a given country – e.g., enforcement authority, enforcement structure, etc.
  • Lastly, as an added bonus, signing up will provide you with quarterly webinars on selected enforcement cases and outstanding issues by industry, country and/or regulatory topic.


Talk to us today about how we can help your company’s EHS program remain compliant and ahead of enforcement developments around the world.