Sharp-Eyed EH&S

The December issue of EPM contains several articles based on the issues theme of plant safety and emergency response, as well as more information about the E15 situation in Chicago and Abengoa's recent plant ground breaking, writes Tom Bryan.
By Tom Bryan | November 25, 2014

As we wrapped up this issue of Ethanol Producer Magazine, one of my sources emailed me with a small edit to our feature, “Coaching Compliance.” Corn Plus’s Mike Gustafson asked me to use commas to separate the words that make up the EH&S acronym—expressing it as “environmental, health, and safety” rather than “environmental health and safety.” The first comma was a must, but I wasn’t sure about the second. Our style rules don’t call for a comma after the next-to-last item in a series unless it’s needed for clarity. This is something only editors care about, or so I thought until Gustafson informed me that the omission of either comma in the full expression of EH&S might suggest that the responsibilities of his profession are more narrow than they are. A lack of delineation, he worried, might confuse the meaning of the job title or dilute one facet of the role. Before press time, both commas were added, if only for that story. 

I’m glad Gustafson’s comma request happened, not because it vexed our copy editor, but because it illustrates how astute, vigilant and engaging ethanol plant EH&S managers are. They care about the finest details—like commas—while overseeing the enormity of compliance. Splitting their time between permitting, regulatory documentation, plant audits, employee training and more, today’s EH&S managers bear long and growing lists of responsibilities. Despite their heavy workloads, they are raising the bar for the whole profession, actively collaborating with one another, gladly communicating with regulators, engaging their staffs with new responsibilities and building operational cultures steeped in safety cognizance.

An EH&S manager’s job is never done, it seems, because regulations never stop changing. As we learn in Holly Jessen’s feature, “Clear Sign of Confusion,” changes to OSHA’s Hazard Communication Standard is just one recent example of how ethanol plant EH&S managers must pivot, adapt and teach when regulations are altered.

For more depth on EH&S, Senior Editor Susanne Retka Schill visits with Nathan Vander Griend of ERI Solutions Inc., which handles loss control services, safety audits equipment testing and employee training for more than 70 U.S. ethanol plants. “In Cultivating a Culture of Safety,” we learn just how much ethanol plant EH&S has advanced in the past decade. 
You may have noticed that our cover story isn’t about EH&S at all. We reserved the face of our final 2014 issue for a topic that will undoubtedly shape our industry’s near-term future: E15 implementation. In “Chicagoan Sets Her Sights on Clean Air,” Retka Schill introduces us to activist Marilyn Katz and the broadly supported effort to bring E15 to America’s third-largest city.

Finally, you'll find photos of the grand opening of Abengoa Bioenergy's 25 MMgy cellulosic ethanol plant. Congratulations Abengoa.  

Author: Tom Bryan  
President & Editor in Chief
[email protected]