What is environmental compliance?
Environmental compliance is when organizations take action to conform to any environmental regulations, laws, or standards. Most industries and facilities are required to adhere to various environmental rules and regulations dictated by government agencies, including the United States Environmental Protection Agency1(EPA). Recently, environmental compliance has become an increasingly public issue as concern over the negative impacts of environmental disruption and climate change persist. More than ever, businesses are expected to perform with operational transparency and invest in corporate social responsibility. The first step to being environmentally compliant is determining what rules and regulations apply to a specific business. In the United States, there are several different regulations that companies need to comply with:
- Stormwater Permits
- Air (Emission) Permits
- Spill Prevention, Control, and Countermeasure (SPCC) Plans (when storing petroleum)
- Community-Right-to-Know Reporting
- Toxic Release Inventory Reporting
- Hazardous Waste Generator Status Registration
It is important to note that this list is non-exhaustive and that regulatory demands depend on many factors (e.g., industry, exposures, raw materials, and location).
Necessities for environmental compliance can be anticipated by performing internal and external audits. These serve to quantify an organization’s environmental performance and position2. The benefits of conducting these audits are two-fold: they provide a greater understanding of how to meet legal and reporting requirements and how to improve environmental performance and sustainability.
Managing environmental compliance can be complicated, however, Environmental, Health, and Safety (EH&S) software can assist with this process.
What is EH&S Software?
Legislative bodies, such as the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and the Department of Justice (DOJ) require businesses to provide a safe workplace for employees by complying with workplace safety and environmental regulations. EH&S Software simplifies this task. EH&S Software is the technology used by companies to manage their regulatory compliance, risk, and corporate sustainability data and activities. Comprehensive EH&S software typically offers a network of platforms that support EH&S systems. Cutting-edge technology automates many EH&S processes, delivering operational efficiencies and improved safety outcomes by more easily connecting employees and organizing documents, activities, and metrics within one system. These capabilities assist companies in the process of analyzing EH&S data, lending to more visible and understood risks and performance.
Using EH&S Software to Improve Compliance.
It is crucial for organizations to manage environmental compliance to mitigate risks and environmental impacts. There are several difficulties environmental management teams often face when trying to keep up with regulatory compliance: a lack of communication between departments, confusion over what specific requirements or regulations are applicable, and keeping track of recent amendments to environmental regulations. If an organization’s compliance and safety data is not stored within a centralized system, the EH&S manager will have to reconcile all data from various sources and site activities. With small projects, manually collecting and organizing such information may be feasible (though costly considering both the time and storage requirements of a manual system), but with large projects and the amount of data they accrue, a manual system will not be able to deliver an adequate return on investment. These problems can be addressed by streamlining management processes through the use of EH&S Software. EH&S Software ensures the centralization of all permit and regulatory requirements and considerably diminishes the time and effort in delegating tasks to responsible parties. It allows for the scheduling of automated reminders and notifications, ensuring issues and actions are addressed in a timely manner. EH&S software can also assist with audit management by supplying version control audit trails and templates, keeping compliance data and records as up-to-date as possible.
Companies running projects and sites often need to coordinate a wide variety of environmental management activities, including noise monitoring, waste management, and permit acquisition, all of which can be more easily handled with an effective EH&S software system.
Five Benefits of EH&S Software.
EH&S software offers a range of benefits for companies and individual employees, ensuring compliance, improving overall performance, and saving time and money.
1. Proactive Management: With EH&S software, meaningful data is captured, and results can be analyzed quickly. This allows EH&S managers to spot trends in real-time and address the issues quickly before problems arise.
2. Centralized and Standardized Data: EH&S software organizes documents, tasks, and deadlines in one place, improving the collaboration of different departments throughout the organization. By standardizing how information is collected and managed, the risk of non-compliance is reduced due to greater visibility and transparency of data.
3. Increased Visibility: Dashboards and analytical reporting allow EH&S managers to see the status of EH&S compliance at a glance. Automatic alerts and notifications keep staff informed on real-time key metrics.
4. Streamlined Reporting: EH&S software saves time and money by allowing reports to be generated in a short period of time, using real-time data captured by the software.
5. Cutting-edge Technology: EH&S software uses transformational technology to bring results that manual EH&S systems and spreadsheets cannot deliver. EH&S software constantly captures and tracks data, easing the processes of acquiring and maintaining permits, tracking compliance in a calendar, and reporting and managing incidents.
Companies must be able to proactively assess risks, implement controls, and track compliance with environmental regulatory requirements. EH&S software has been designed to meet those needs and to provide a consolidated environmental management system, to ensure organizations can meet their environmental compliance targets as well as improve overall workplace safety. Businesses must continuously evolve to stay on top of individual and collective environmental impacts. Having an EH&S software system will help keep a workplace safe and maintain the sustainability of operations.
1 United States Environmental Protection Agency. Compliance. Website: https://www.epa.gov/compliance Accessed 24/08/2021
2 Environmental Auditors. What is an environmental audit. Website: https://www.environmentalauditors.com.au/what-is-an-environmental-audit.html Accessed 24/08/2021
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