More than Safety: EHS Designed to Protect, Empower and Serve a Global Team

This is Part 2 of an 8-part series on OrthoLite’s EHS program: a premier initiative in the footwear industry for safety, empowerment, and social responsibility. Read Part One, Why Our Investment in Social Responsibility is Fundamental to Who We Are..

OrthoLite operates globally with more than 3,300 employees working in manufacturing locations in six different countries across three continents.

Within the natural complexity of this global organization, OrthoLite has developed a robust Environmental Health and Safety (EHS) program that’s unified by our philosophy and standards, yet adaptable to reflect the cultural needs and mores of the different communities in which we operate. Our global teams collaborate and learn from each other, share best practices, and travel to different locations to learn new techniques and processes.

The stakes could not be higher because EHS efforts are central to our team’s safety and well-being. They are inextricably tied to environmental-related impacts, like waste management, chemical management, greenhouse gas emissions, water use and wastewater management. These efforts form the origin of how we give back to the communities in which we operate, and how the people in those communities view us as a partner. And they are the proof of the responsible practices and trackable impacts of our operations within the footwear supply chain.

This post describes how we implement our EHS program: 

A Clear Mandate
Measurable Accountability
Organizational Clarity
Collaboration through Empowerment

A Clear Mandate

The Global EHS team exists to improve the health and safety of our employees.

Measurable Accountability

We understand that caring words, however sincere, can ring hollow. Therefore, we track and measure every aspect of our EHS program to back our values and operational choices with accountability.

Critically, OrthoLite uses a universal system of key performance indicators and a universal tracking system to measure progress for each factory. This universality allows us to gauge if we’re moving in the right direction, if we’re moving fast enough, and if we are moving effectively as one collective.

Our reporting includes, but is not limited to:

Tracking indicators for safety.

We don’t only track an accident as a lagging indicator, for example. We also report the leading indicators of “near misses” or reported safety warnings and flags. Proactively tracking leading safety indicators is highly effective at preventing accidents down the road.

OrthoLite safety

Reporting to The Higg Index

All of our factories report to The Higg Index Facility Environmental Module (FEM) module.

  • Reporting to The Higg Index Facility Social & Labor Module (FSLM) at our China, Indonesia, and India factories, beginning in 2023.
  • In Vietnam, we are reporting via the Better Work program, because Vietnam does not recognize the Higg FSLM.
  • Our Spain factory will begin reporting via Higg FSLM in 2024.

OrthoLite Manufacturing System

Operating via a blend of LEAN manufacturing and our very own “OrthoLite Manufacturing System” (OMS) to reduce waste, implement efficiencies, and engage in safety and environmentally-minded measures. OMS is a tailor-made toolbox we use to create a mindset of continual improvement amongst all of our employees.

Monthly meetings among global teams

Monthly meetings among global teams to share ideas, best practices and reports. These meetings include a 360-degree touchpoint to assign new responsibilities and to find consensus on how we can improve results.

Training, education, and mentoring opportunities.

We establish a culture where everyone is encouraged to voice their safety and EHS-related observations.

Critically, we don’t just saddle the manufacturing teams with the responsibility of improving the workplace, we provide them with the tools, the support, and the authority to make the changes. Here’s how to do that.

OrthoLite EHS

Organizational Clarity

Holding true to one of our EHS tenets to empower and respect individuals, our EHS program is not a top-down checklist of uniformity. Instead, it is organized more like interconnected circles, where collaboration, accountability, and idea-sharing benefit all of our locations.

Richard Bevan, OrthoLite’s VP of Global Operations, leads the EHS program. Richard heads up the steering committee, which establishes EHS goals and global strategy on a rolling basis for the upcoming two years.

Our factory teams then take the initiative to create detailed plans toward supporting the overarching strategy and objectives. Each factory has:

  • A dedicated general manager,
  • A dedicated EHS leader, and
  • A dedicated human resources team.

Together they have the authority to create autonomous plans that will best support and safeguard their people, and will drive success for their location overall.

Collaboration: The Strength of Many, United as One

Without exception, our factories must meet the highest expectations in EHS performance. We enforce standards and compliance with regulations. The safety of our team members is non-negotiable.

Our approach to achieving these lofty expectations is rooted in the intrinsic respect we have for every individual. Yes, standards must be met. But who better to come up with new solutions and to discover opportunities for improvement than the people who work in our production facilities every day?

OrthoLite safety

By empowering the factory EHS leaders to generate their own solutions, we’ve witnessed their motivation firsthand! They demonstrate boundless energy to improve the workplace for their teams, by way of: safety, individual empowerment, lowering environmental impacts, and educational efforts that address all of the above.

All EHS leads meet monthly to share progress and ideas. Month after month, these leaders cannot wait to implement the new best practices they’re learning from their peers. They don’t wait for a requirement to compel them to take action. At a lower frequency, they also travel to other OrthoLite facilities to experience and learn from their peers’ EHS programs in person.

OrthoLite Safety

In the realm of EHS, elevating performance is directly related to a safer and more respectful workplace. We prioritize it because we care about our people. And we’re proud to empower team leaders who take action. They care for their teams not because a marketing slogan suggests they should, but because it’s the right thing to do. It’s palpable.

At OrthoLite, taking care of our people stands alone as a top priority. Though it’s inextricably linked to being valuable community partners and better stewards to the planet. Our drive to set the highest standards remains steadfast because we are guided by principles, and empowered through respect for every individual.


Comfort & Performance


We’re fueled by innovation, a deep understanding of our brand partners’ needs, true collaboration, and a dedication to limiting our impact on the planet—and it shows in every product we make. That’s how we became the global leader, and why we’re proud to partner with the best brands on earth.