In our peculiar and sometimes confusing world, reaching consensus on a task as simple as unifying an acronym seems to be much more difficult than it should.
The Occupational Health and Safety Act of 1970 (OHS) was America's first attempt to address workplace safety. An estimated 14,000 workers were killed on the job that year. That number dropped to 4,340 in 2009 and has doubled in the US over that time span. This number has increased slightly since 2009. The number of workplace deaths from 2011 to 2015 reached 4,693, 4,628, 4,585 and 4,821, respectively. The Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 in Great Britain laid down rules for health and safety management similar to OHS.
During the same period, federal, state, and local governments enacted environmental laws that required businesses to monitor and reduce air and water pollution and focus on safe waste disposal practices. Companies have been forced to deal with these issues or face fines and damage their corporate image. This is how the position of Environment, Health and Safety (EHS) Manager was created, but different organizations chose different acronyms for Environment, Safety and Health (ESH), Health, Safety and Environment (HSE) and, believe it or not not, many others.
From a professional perspective, Environmental Health and Safety (EHS, EH&S, HSE, ESH, or SHE) is the group or organization responsible for environmental protection, occupational safety, occupational health and safety, and compliance with best practices. The group aims to improve safety, prevent and reduce occupational accidents, emergencies and health problems.
A list of Environment, Health and Safety acronyms
Aren't three-letter acronyms (TLAs) confusing? What about four and
five letter acronyms?
Here is a list of acronyms, most covering the same areas of responsibility:
|OH S||Work-and Health protection|
|HSE||Health, Safety and Environment|
|EHS (or EH&S)||Environment, Health and Safety|
|SHE||Safety, Health and Environment|
|QHSE||Quality, Health, Safety and Environment|
|HSEQ||Health, Safety, Environment and Quality|
|HSSE||Health, Safety and Environment|
|QHSSE||Quality, health, safety and environmental protection|
|HSSEQ||Health, Safety, Environment and Quality|
These additional acronyms became necessary as security was added to the list of responsibilities of EHS, HSE and ESH when violent threats came into play. HSE soon became HSSE (Health, Safety, Security and Environment) and further expanded to HSSEQ (Health, Safety, Environment and Quality) or (HSEQ/HSSEQ/QHSE/QHSSE) as responsibilities were expanded to include quality principles EHS- Manager.
Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR or HSE & CSR / HSSE & CSR) was soon added to the mix, followed by an intense focus on sustainability. We can't even find a single acronym for Environmental Manager, but we've tirelessly added a bunch of extra letters to their titles.
Not to mention, numerous regulators and regulations with their own acronyms have been added to the mix:
More recently, the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals (with the acronym GHS, thank goodness!) was added. And oh, so many more...
As a colleague recently wrote, our industry has been transformed by Alphabet Soupization!! It may or may not be coincidental, but the acronym EHS also refers to it Exploding head syndrome (EHS), alternatively known as episodic cranial sensory shock, a benign condition in which a person makes loud 'imaginary' noises (like a bomb exploding, a gunshot or a pelvic crash) or has an explosive sensation when falling asleep or waking up. I think I just got EHS or was it HSE?