An EHS Implementation Model for Non-Manufacturing Operations in China


Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis

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  • Gor Amie LAI


Awarding Institution
Award date30 Nov 2012


Globalization, growing concerns on corporate governance, and market emphasis on sustained growth have driven companies to look beyond good economic management for competitive differentiation. Proactive management of the companies’ environmental, health and safety (EHS) performances is another decisive factor for sustaining business and winning the competition. Traditionally, manufacturing companies took the leads in implementing programs of EHS either as individual systems or integrated one. While substantial progress has been made in operations associated with manufacturing plants or construction sites, the EHS conditions or performances of corporate facilities that combine activities of engineering research and design, manufacturing support such as reliability tests, and business/office functions in skyscrapers of the cities or corporate office complexes in technology parks are often over-looked.

Significance of Work Population in Non-manufacturing Sector
Manufacturing operation is characterised by tangible outputs (products) with standardisation of product and process sequence. On the other hand, non-manufacturing operation is characterised by intangible outputs, often much more dynamic than manufacturing operation in terms of work environments that employees operate in and the variety of activities employees perform. In the US, non-manufacturing industries account for around 81.2 percent of the employment in 2010. Non-manufacturing industries are further expected to account for approximately 18 million, i.e. 88 percent, new wage and salary jobs generated by 2020. In mainland China, the employment in non-manufacturing sector is 89 percent more than those in manufacturing sector. An increasing trend in non-manufacturing employment is also emerging in China.

EHS in China
China is a developing country with a huge population of over 1.34 billion; people are generally not concerned enough to accept personal responsibility for environmental protection and knowledge of environmental issues is limited. In terms of occupational health and safety, problems identified include lacking health & safety training, insufficient fire protection devices, inappropriate storage and handling of chemicals, improper protection equipment, and poor ergonomic design of workplaces.

EHS measures in non-manufacturing sector have lagged behind manufacturing industries historically; in view of China’s poor EHS awareness and practices, the situation for non-manufacturing sector of China could be more problematic. Taking reference from the US, the non-manufacturing sector is responsible for 76.1 percent of lost work time injuries and illnesses in 2010. Although injury and illness statistics for China’s non-manufacturing sector is unavailable, given the sector accounts for over 53 percent of employment, the need for effective EHS measures would be more pressing as China’s occupational accident rate is 2.6 times higher than the rate of the US.

An EHS Implementation Model for Non-manufacturing Operations in China
Most existing environmental regulations and management tools implicitly assume a manufacturing environment and the primary focus of environmental management research has been on US and European firms, majority related to the manufacturing sector as well. In addition, only a handful of Chinese scholars have conducted researches on EHS management in China. There has been very little systematic investigation of combining the three areas - environment, health, and safety together to discuss the implementation model for non-manufacturing operations in literature both in China and abroad. Therefore, this paper aims to contribute to existing research by filling the above gaps.

The research aims to develop a non-manufacturing EHS management (NEHS) implementation model to assist non-manufacturing facilities to implement EHS management system, with validation of its use in a real-life case. Development of the NEHS implementation model is divided into three steps. Firstly, core elements from ISO 14001 and OHSAS 18001 are reviewed. Secondly, those applicable elements are screened and adapted for implementation in non-manufacturing operations. The last step is to establish the NEHS model by balancing all elements. Based on the NEHS implementation model, it further develops a 24-step implementation guideline, EHS program templates, and web-based functionality as well as EHS e-learning packages for the system. Tailoring to the characteristics of people-based, dynamic and non- standardised work environment and activities; the NEHS implementation model emphasized the importance of simplicity, flexibility, low maintenance, minimal paperwork and use of web-based platform for training as well as compliance management.

The developed NEHS implementation model is validated in one of the non- manufacturing operations of Freescale Semiconductor, Inc. (FSL) in China. FSL is a global semiconductor company and has put substantial environmental, health and safety (EHS) management systems in place at all of its manufacturing sites. However, these systems are not yet in place at its China non-manufacturing operating sites, and there is increasing pressure to implement them soon. This research topic is believed to be unique and original as academic justification on EHS Management System for non- manufacturing operations in China and EHS climate index surveys among Chinese employees were not documented popularly. There are three major innovation points:

i) A non-manufacturing EHS Management (NEHS) implementation model is developed for non-manufacturing operations in China;

ii) Program templates and e-learning resources for non-manufacturing operations in China are developed for the implementation of NEHS system.

iii) Developed and conducted EHS climate index surveys to evaluate the employees’ perception of environmental, health, and safety before and after for a non- manufacturing facility in Suzhou, China.

Based on the pilot implementation, interviews with EHS experts and employee EHS climate index surveys before and after implementation were conducted. Positive effect was demonstrated with the NEHS implementation model for non-manufacturing operations in China. The data collected from the case study project suggest an acceptable degree of convergent validity in that the NEHS implementation model was proved to be effective for non-manufacturing operations of FSL in mainland China as well as in India. In addition, EHS climate surveys can be used as a tool to measure employees’ attitudes shifts after implementation of EHS initiatives.

    Research areas

  • EHS, Environmental, Health and Safety, Non-manufacturing, Implementation Model, EHS Climate Survey