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EHS Core Professional Competencies

The EHS profession is very broad and many areas of specialty. Common among all EHS professional ethics is the concept of only practicing in areas of professional competency. Just because one carries a credential, does not mean that they are qualified for any EHS position or project. EHS professionals continuously interact with sophisticated technical and managerial talent in other professions.

Competencies are the underlying attributes and behaviors EHS professionals need to master in order to do their job in a superior fashion. The core competencies of a corporation materialize through the array of products produced by the corporation. Truthfully, it is the core competencies of the organization that lead to its competitive success. Linking the EHS professionals’ behavioral competencies to the corporation’s core competencies is the first step in understanding the business’ strategies and goals. Knowing which EHS competencies apply to a given situation, an EHS professional will be able to present EHS programs and projects in a language conducive to managerial support for logistics, financing, resourcing and implementation. It also will raise the EHS professionals’ understanding of why a particular EHS program or project cannot be supported or implemented and what it will take to gain future support. In other words, pick your battles.

Competencies can be used to establish standards for evaluating performance and identifying areas where EHS professionals need additional training and development. Competencies can serve in the selection process to identify candidates for future positions in the organization. Mastering the competencies discussed here can significantly improve the overall performance of the EHS professionals, help them cope with rapid change and become fully integrated into the day-to-day business decision-making processes involving environmental, health and safety issues.