Q&A with Nick Nixon: Environment, Health, Safety, and Security During COVID-19

What is EHSS?

Environment (E), health (H), safety (S), and security (s) (together EHSS) is a discipline and specialty that is largely responsible for environmental and safety management. They develop and implement new procedures and ensure that the company is compliant with all rules and regulations. These skilled individuals are essentially responsible for all employees' safety at work. 


About Nick Nixon

Nick Nixon, Environment, Health, and Safety

Nick Nixon is an Environmental, Health, Safety and Security (EHSS) Manager with 25 plus years of experience with nationally and internationally recognized companies. He holds a Bachelor of Science Degree in Biology from Arkansas Tech University and a Certificate in Occupational Health from the Georgia Institute of Technology. Prior to working in privately held manufacturing and project development, Nick worked with and led teams as the EHSS primary at Linde Engineering NA. Projects produced were for the ownerships of ExxonMobil, Lyondell Basel, Total, Sinclair and others across the United States plus remotely around the world. Primary disciplines include: water and wastewater management, construction & operational EHSS planning, stormwater and SPCC, Occupational Health and facilities security.


Q: How will COVID-19 impact Health and Safety operationally in the future?

A: As we learn to adjust to the new norm (masks, temperature monitoring and required personnel hygiene), there will be even more obstacles that employers need to tackle. Masks will increase cases of heat illnesses and respiratory distress. Temperature monitoring will be impacted by employee compliance and cooling requirements during the summer months. Materials used to clean and disinfect working surfaces and clothing could potentially create skin disorders. All of these new issues will be additional growing pains in an ever-evolving world.


Q: What are the greatest EHSS issues that will impact finances?

A: Technology has become a monetary plus/minus to EHSS. When using the statistical methods of generating possibilities of your next recordable, the human factor can be lost. Developing statistics for Experience Modification Rating (EMR) for insurance and third-party compliance ratings or an Incident Rate based on controlling First Aid versus questionable Medical activities often outweigh the establishment of culture and how much is spent to monitor and evaluate employee EHSS performance.

It has become important to deliver training in a timely manner, using technology. OSHA has in the past frowned upon this type training due to the lack of personal interaction and broad, less responsive information delivery. The need for proper training brings cost.


Q: What are some of the other challenges that EHSS is currently facing?

A: First, Environmental Management will need to prepare for the “Yo-Yo Effect” of changing politics. It is important to maintain an eye on past implementations of rules and prepare for changes. Don’t lose sight that any rule delayed can become operational due to changes in administrations.

Secondly, Health Management and hiring processes need to be more in-depth. Companies must spend more time to verify physical capabilities of employees before hiring. As the number of available employees lessens (an aging workforce), it requires employers to be selective based on capabilities to perform stress activities. Increased Incident Rates can be reflective of available employees and incomplete hiring practices.

Lastly, Contractor Management left to third parties can be costly and impact companies that perform specific tasks. Specialists often lack the capabilities to work through the layers of Contractor Management. In the end, it impacts budgets by having to use higher priced companies that have the paperwork structure but lack the specialized abilities (stack testing, specialized training, hot-shot transportation, specialized tooling and third-party compliance specialist).


According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of health and safety engineers is projected to grow 5 percent from 2018 to 2028. If you're interested in a career in this in-demand field, please contact Lis Briet at [email protected] or fill out the form below and one of our expert consultants will get in contact. You can also network with others in this field, by joining The BEST of HSE LinkedIn Group.

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