All project and business-as-usual activities have an impact on the environment. These activities can also put people in harm’s way or even increase their risk of developing certain health conditions. Successful organisations always have a programme in place that ensures the health and safety of their respective employees.

The programme also helps minimise, if not eliminate the negative impact of the organisation’s activities on the environment. This comprises the organisation’s health, safety, and environmental (HSE) management programme.

Health, Safety, and Environmental Regulations

Health, Safety, and Environmental regulations are directives or rules that aim to protect employees, the general public, and the environment from any hazard or any negative effect that may come from the operations or activities of organisations or entities.

These regulations ensure a safe environment for people to work in. Such laws, rules, regulations, workplace efforts, and even organisational programmes aim to reduce work-related injuries and disabilities.

HSE programmes can also include preventing the negative impact of organisational processes and activities on the environment. This can include the prevention of chemical spills and the more efficient management of industrial wastes.

The following are examples of HSE regulations.


This is a piece of legislation that requires organisations or employers to effect measures that will manage and control hazardous substances. Organisations must identify actual and potential hazardous substances that their employees can get exposed to. They can then institute measures to prevent or control exposure to these substances. This is a measure that will prevent their employees from getting sick.

  • Work-related Stress Management Programmes

Stress is a pervasive phenomenon in any organisation. Companies can mitigate the effects of stress on the work performance of their employees and ensure their health through different stress management approaches. This can include individual stress management and participatory action-oriented training, among others.

  • Slips and Trips Prevention Programmes

Organisations can also institute measures that will help prevent falls, trips, and slips. Such measures can include the installation of nonslip flooring materials, well-lighted corridors and walkways, and other preventive approaches

Focus of Health and Safety Legislation

There are laws that provide general guidelines and specific directives for organisations to ensure the health and safety of everyone in these organisations. The focus of these legislations is in the provision of a safe environment upon which people can work and be productive without undermining their own safety and wellbeing.

These health and safety legislations can include, but not limited to, the following.

  • Creation of a comprehensive policy on health and safety
  • Risk assessment, reduction, control, and mitigation
  • Routine comprehensive health screening examinations
  • Provision of personal protective equipment and other safety devices
  • Continuing education and training relative to health and safety
  • Development of safe operational procedures
  • Ensuring of work spaces and other organisational facilities
  • Monitoring, reporting, and escalation of health and safety incidents

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The Project Manager in HSE Management

A comprehensive HSE management programme is an important aspect of any ongoing project. The temporary nature of projects can expose employees to risks that they otherwise would not be exposed to in a business-as-usual operation. That is why it is important for the project manager to be aware of the following things.

  • Presence of an HSE Management Plan

The project manager needs to make sure that a comprehensive HSE management plan is already in place even before the actual operationalisation of the project objectives can begin. This sets the groundwork for the safe and effective performance of the different project activities.

  • Comprehensive Assessment of Risks

The project team can help prepare for any eventualities by conducting regular and frequent risk assessments. They need to identify the different risks posed by different project activities on the health and safety of their employees. This also includes the assessment of risks to the environment.

  • Proper Project Team Training

Enforcing the different provisions of an HSE management programme within the context of project management requires that all project team members have the correct set of knowledge and skills necessary for ensuring safe performance of their tasks. This can only be managed through a training programme that focuses on the observance of health and safety protocols in the project workplace.

  • Open, Honest, Timely Disclosure

Issues or incidents about health and safety should always be monitored and managed accordingly. The project manager needs to facilitate open communication to allow project team members to disclose critical incidents in a timely and honest manner.

  • Conduct Regular Reviews

Frequent and regular reviews of the current HSE management programme can provide the project team with an insight as to which HSE aspects are making an impact in their efforts at ensuring a safe workplace. Reviews allow the project team to evaluate those measures that are successful, while also addressing those that are problematic.

  • Look at Stress as an HSE Issue

The project team needs to understand that stress is one of the most common condition that can affect the overall performance of employees. Stress can manifest in physical, psychological, social, and emotional ways. This can lead to physical complaints, psychological problems, emotional concerns, and even social issues. 

  • Ensure Adequacy and Availability of Safety Equipment

There are laws that mandate the provision of specific personal protective equipment for each job function. For example, personnel in the biomedical industries are expected to wear work-appropriate suits that protect them against biohazards. Those in the construction industry need to wear industry-mandated work gloves, safety shoes, goggles, and hard hat as basic safety tools. It is the project manager’s job to make sure that all safety equipment relevant to the project are available and accessible to the project team.

  • Address Environmental Issues

Project managers need to recognise the impact of project activities on the environment. For example, the improper disposal of project wastes can contribute to land, water, and air pollution. Inadequate lighting and slippery floors can also increase the risk of injuries secondary to falls, trips, or slips. Hazardous substances not only expose people to potential health problems. These substances can also have a negative impact on the environment.

Health, safety, and environmental management is a key component of the day-to-day operation of any modern organisation. An effective HSE management programme is also crucial to ensuring the effective implementation of a project. It protects the very same people who are important to the project, while also minimising the impact of the project activities on the environment.

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