Substances Might Still Be Dangerous to the Environment
Unsurprisingly a significant amount of training, risk assessments, safety controls and emergency procedure planning goes into preventing harm coming to people. These can be the workers on the premises, or those living and working nearby who may be affected by any disaster or incident that may unfold. Whilst this is obviously highly important, managers and workers must also remember that they have a duty to protect the environment as well as the health and safety of humans, and that just because all necessary steps have been taking to make hazardous substances safe for people does not necessarily mean that there is no longer a danger to plants, animals and other organisms in the surrounding environment.
Although still quite fragile in terms of the range of extremes which it can tolerate (e.g. temperature, acidity etc), the human body is actually much more tolerant than the vast majority of other life forms in this regard. This means that although gases or other substances being released into the environment may have been treated and made safe in terms of not causing harm to people, it might still be damaging or even fatal to non-human life.
Aquatic Organisms and Water Pollution
A particular area of concern is that of the danger to aquatic organisms living in nearby streams, rivers, lakes, oceans and any other body of water which may be affected. These creatures can be highly sensitive to any change in water variables and it will therefore not take much to make the water toxic to aquatic life, even if the water was within acceptable levels as far as the health and safety of people is concerned. It is for this reason that water pollution is one of the most common topics associated with environmental health and safety training.
Contaminated Water and Plant Life
Plants too depend upon water to survive and grow, and contaminated groundwater which is safe for humans can still be damaging or fatal for plant life. This can still have a negative effect upon people if they rely on those crops for food, and a poor harvest or even total destruction of the crop can cause starvation.
Managers Need to Consider the Health of All
It is therefore important for managers to not only consider potential negative consequences regarding the health and safety of workers and other people nearby who may be affected by the activities and by-products/waste produced by the company, but also the effect that they may have on the environment even after making substances safe for humans. Attending a NEBOSH Environmental Certificate course or similar will give managers and workers a much greater understanding of how their activities can affect the environment, and how they can lessen their negative impact upon it for the benefit of all life forms.