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About Health Safety Environmental Departments

Published at 02/26/2012 22:38:41


The Health Safety Environmental (HSE) departments are responsible for promotion of health and safety in the community through effective environmental and occupational management practices. The goal of HSE Departments is to provide critical support and responsive services to ensure that there is safety and health within the working and living environment.

The history of Health Safety Environmental dates back to 1920s when Dr. Robert A. Kehoe began to research on newly introduced industrial compounds under auspices of General Motors Research Corporation. Dr. Kehoe pioneered Environmental and Occupational medicine by assembling a team of medical experts and technicians to study the health problems that were related to occupation and environment. Dr. Kehoe was the first person to link pollution in workplaces and environmental impact.

The first Department of Environmental Health complex was completed in 1930. It named after Charles Kettering who was the head of Laboratory at General Motors. The unit ran independently until 1949 when it was combined with Department Of Preventive Medicine. It became Department of Preventive Medicine and. Industrial Health. In 1965 it was renamed Department Of Environmental Health.

Dr. Edward Radford took over from Dr. Kehoe in 1965 and began to work closely with Institute Of Environmental Health. Dr. Raymond Suskind became the director in 1969-1985. This is the time when the department increased its environmental health activities.

In 1969 a safety office was established under the personnel department. There was significant interest in its services leading to placement in Security and Risk management (SRM) Department. The primary mission was to prevent and control as guided by the new Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) regulations.

By 1980s, environmental protection became a new issue. Security and Risk management (SRM) Department was extended to cater for the requirements of Environmental Protection Agency. In mid 1980s, SRM Department got the responsibility for health physics and radiation safety. It was extended to accommodate the resurgence of interest in industrial hygiene. It is at this time that SRM Department became Environmental Health and. Safety (EHS) Department.

In 1990s, Environmental Health and. Safety became increasingly responsible for investigations into air quality emergency preparedness and removal of accessibility barriers as required by the Disabilities Act. Due to administrative and budget streamlining issues, Environmental Health and. Safety was placed within Department of Institutional Safety. By 2002, the tasks that were traditionally performed by Environmental Health and Safety was contracted out or delegated to Health Safety Environmental Departments.

Health Safety Environmental provides services and guidance in areas of environmental monitoring and surveillance. The other services that Environmental Health and. Safety oversees are:

  • Treatment of occupational illness and injuries
  • Safety training programs
  • Equipment and facility safety
  • Laboratory safety
  • Adjudication and payment of employee compensation claims

Environmental Health and. Safety activities can be divided into three categories namely:

  • Moral: This involves making moral cases to management regarding reasonable care of employees and unacceptable practice of putting their safety and health at risk.
  • Legal: Environmental Health and. Safetyis involved with the enforcement, compensatory and disciplinary effects of safety laws.
  • Economic: This concerns the costs associated with incidents that risk safety and health in various organizations. The costs are direct or indirect, insured and uninsured cost.


Health Safety Environmental Departments are involved in the promoting health and safety at work places or homes. This can be achieved by using these tips:

  • Reuse: Many things can be recycled and reused instead of using them once and throwing them away. Reducing litter helps to maintain a safe environment.
  • Chemical and air safety: Reduce and if possible fully eliminate exposure to chemicals. Use of chemicals should be limited. When the chemical equipments are not in use, they should be kept away from people to prevent exposure to harmful fumes. Trash and chemical substances should not be burned to prevent the release of harmful substances.
  • Emergency Preparedness: Work places and residential areas should have emergency supplies, fire escape plans and meeting locations in case of an environmental emergency.


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