Remember: We’re All in This Together
By Aaron Zude, senior director, SEMI EHS
The hallmark of the “high tech” environmental, health and safety profession is the willingness of EHS personnel from different companies to share their hazard control practices and to collaborate on solving EHS challenges. During the early 1980’s, this camaraderie and sharing of hazard control practices and lessons learned from incidents was the genesis of the High Technology EHS Symposium put on by the Semiconductor Environmental, Safety & Health Association (SESHA), known back then as the Semiconductor Safety Association (SSA). What began as a group of EHS professionals getting together (in secret at the very beginning because they didn’t want their companies to know they were talking to each other) became an annual conference dedicated to educating persons new to the field or industry and for sharing programs and best practices.
One of the most valuable (and interesting) sessions during the SESHA (SSA) symposium each year was the “Accidents and Incidents” open microphone discussion where companies openly shared accidents and “near misses” so that others could learn from their experiences. To help increase visibility of these types of incidents, the SEMI International Compliance and Regulatory Committee (ICRC) is developing a “lessons learned” database for capturing and sharing information from accidents and near misses in high tech industries that others with similar operations can learn from. Watch this newsletter for more on this activity, and please actively participate when it becomes active.
The Best Way to Make Your Program Better: Benchmark
I recently wrote an article in “The Grid”, the newsletter of the SEMI PV Group, about the rapid response of high tech EHS personnel to globally network and exchange company plans and activities in response to the H1N1 flu outbreak. (http://www.semi.org/cms/groups/public/documents/web_content/ctr_029689.htm). Over the period of about two weeks, contingency planning and response information was benchmarked over the SEMI EHS Grapevine, and two webinars on influenza outbreak planning and response were conducted by SEMI in partnership with SESHA and its Technology Emergency Response Forum (TERF) to share recent information and lessons learned. These webinars would not have been possible without the selfless contributions by Liz Aton (industry consultant), Don Lassiter (OHS Systems), Raelene Wong (Applied Materials), and Jeff Clark (National Semiconductor) who freely gave of their time for the benefit of the industry to share needed information and to openly discuss the response of their company to the H1N1 outbreak.
In this article, I stated that EHS excellence is not, and should not be, a source for competitive advantage by individual companies. Rather, EHS excellence requires industry-wide collaboration on training, best practices, emergency response, technical expertise, collective voice, and regulatory interface. I firmly believe this, and I think that we need to get better about talking to each other.
We Need to Renew Our Commitment to Helping Each Other
During the H1N1 Flu Outbreak webinars, I made a call for attendees to send me their company pandemic contingency plans so that SEMI could make them available to other EHS professions that are looking for programs to benchmark. I suggested that either the company remove their name from the document, or that I would remove company identifiers by aggregating the information into a table. I would like to renew that call now, so please send me your plans at firstname.lastname@example.org.
As a group of persons responsible for EHS in high tech industries (semiconductor, PV, FPD, MEMS, SSL, Nano), I believe that we owe it to each other (and our industry) to actively share programs, procedures and best practices in a non-competitive environment. This can be done through participation at industry EHS conferences and workshops, through publishing articles in trade magazines, through participation at local EHS professional group meetings, and obviously through the SEMI EHS Grapevine, at SEMI standards and EHS Division meetings, and on the SemiNeedle PV-EHS, Regulatory Compliance, and REACH Working Groups (see: www.semineedle.com).
For the benefit of the profession and industry, I hope to see you all actively participating in at least one of these areas soon!
May 18, 2009