For a company over-anxious to reconcile EHS and Quality processes and data, some complications may emerge.
For example, some integrated management opponents argue that strict adherence to one specific set of standards can be sacrificed in the name of integration. That is, in defining a broad-base of widely applicable standards to enforce across all EHS and Quality domains, some details are institutionally enabled to slip through the cracks.
Really, it all depends on what specifically a company is attempting to integrate. For example, getting managers across all departments to employ the same audit checklists and reports can be like mixing apples and oranges. However, leveraging the same auditing software that allows the importing of individual EHS and quality checklists can reduce costs.
The standards governing quality can be far removed from those governing environment, health and safety. However, this notion can be a very particular function of a particular corporate culture and which aspect (of EHS and Quality) has the greatest impact within that corporate culture.
Further, an old paradigm suggests some aspects of environment, health and safety are not tied intrinsically to aspects of quality, such as continual improvement in performance, legislative compliance and considerations of risks.
This has changed somewhat as businesses constantly try to improve their environment, health and safety performance. Historically these concerns have been dominated by legislation, and quality, by and large, has been customer-driven. Now environment, health and safety are being strongly influenced by brand impact, and quality is being influenced by new consumer protection legislation.
Some IMS critics a suggest integrated systems can actually make audits more complex. However, having an IMS places no demand on any company to fulfill a comprehensive EHS and Quality audit each time an audit is conducted. Rather, businesses need to asses where overlap exists and where it makes good business sense to combine elements. We’ll discuss more about this in our conclusion.