Environmental, health, and safety (EH&S) is a dynamic field, continuously evolving according to both society’s needs and advancements (these could be the result of technological progress or newly discovered methods for making the workplace better for all stakeholders). The rate at which EH&S compliance regulations are updated is not predictable. Therefore, the single best way to keep your company on track is to never be complacent. In this article, we will expound upon the top 4 ways to keep your company vigilant:
- Conduct an audit of current methods for EH&S compliance.
- Use modern technology to monitor regulatory changes.
- Strengthen relationships with all stakeholders.
- Partner with an EH&S compliance expert.
1. Conduct an audit of current methods for EH&S compliance.
An internal audit is a self-initiated appraisal of a business’ compliance performance against applicable regulatory requirements. In the context of EH&S compliance, it means checking existing EH&S practices, identifying relevant regulations, and benchmarking the former against the latter. To conduct a successful internal EH&S audit, it will need to be an unbiased assessment of business processes, which necessitates the cooperation of as wide a range of supervisors and staff as possible. An open exchange of ideas should be encouraged to extract the most accurate description of how EH&S practices are normally handled. While the individuals involved in a particular operation will be the most knowledgeable about the current situation, they are also the most likely to be subjective and constricted to a particular way of doing things. Additionally, while one aspect may be handled by a certain person or group, they may not be the ones ultimately affected by that work. Including fresh eyes (a different department or outside consultant) will go a long way in attaining an honest perspective.
2. Use modern technological to monitor regulatory changes.
Government agencies such as the EPA, NRC, and OSHA post regulation changes on their websites and social media pages. Regularly checking their online presence is crucial to remain updated on relevant legislation. The following social media accounts are a modern tool that has made important information more accessible than ever:
An RSS feed reader is another to way to make browsing websites manually for updates a thing of the past. RSS feed readers can be set to automatically scan target websites for any updates and deliver them to the user.
3. Strengthen relationships with all stakeholders.
A robust EH&S framework constantly strengthens its weak links. Hence, EH&S professionals must facilitate open communication among all stakeholders to always be prepared for possible regulatory changes.
Employees and Host Communities:
The welfare of employees and a company’s host community is tightly knit to successful EH&S implementation. Constantly identifying new hazards and paying attention to emerging issues with workers and the surrounding environment can help an organization stay ahead of possible regulatory changes. Should an EH&S concern arise in the future, these stakeholders will likely be open to negotiation, as trust and confidence in the company’s decision-making process has been established and there is a mutual respect of both parties’ sentiments and welfare.
Regulators, whether at local, state, or federal levels, are the first to know of policy changes. They are also the ones more knowledgeable in policy trends that may affect various industries. As such, building and maintaining a strong relationship with regulators is crucial, especially in the dynamic EH&S policy environment. Apart from knowing policy adjustments, a strong relationship will also mean individual businesses are more likely to be included in the rulemaking process. Disconnect between an industry and the regulatory body can result in policy failure, undermining business competitiveness and negatively affecting both the industry and the agency’s public image. Whether introducing or modifying policies, inputs from industry stakeholders are critical to ensure transparency in the process and the successful adoption of the rules.
Industry Associations and Peers:
In a similar vein as consulting with an outside expert to assess EH&S practices, joining industry associations and engaging with industry peers can also broaden knowledge concerning policy matters and current industry standards. Networking with other professionals in a particular industry allows for a sharing of experiences and a greater perspective on the current reception of rules. The general opinions held by industry associations are also crucial as they carry weight with regulators and can sway government policy and public opinion. These associations often publish exclusive newsletters which can cover policy updates, complete with an analysis detailing how various industries will be affected. Industry associations also will host conferences that feature presentations from regulatory agencies, offering attendees an in-depth explanation of relevant rules and regulations.
4. Partner with an EH&S compliance expert.
Rules and regulations concerning EH&S are changing more frequently as new issues continuously come to light. The assistance of a compliance expert may be the best option for keeping up with the latest developments in EH&S practices, standards, and regulations. A reliable EH&S compliance partner can provide a wide array of resources concerning EH&S management, auditing, and compliance. These resources entail both guides on how to properly implement EH&S programs and practical interpretations and applications of relevant laws and regulations.
Fortunately, advances in technology are developing along with rapidly changing regulations. This means that technological solution providers should not only be able to leverage their expertise for the benefit of other businesses but also have the capability to continuously improve their products. Therefore, EH&S compliance solution providers should offer these additional features:
- A comprehensive library of audit guides, full-text regulations, and protocols.
- A collection of practical interpretations for relevant regulatory requirements.
- An audit tool that can be configured and will enable users to save and share audit findings.
- Customizable alerts to monitor applicable regulatory changes.
- A mobile-friendly interface with easy navigation.
The importance of keeping EH&S protocols aligned with up-to-date regulations is crucial for keeping workers and the surrounding community safe and operating at their optimal state. This means maintaining compliance in a rapidly evolving regulatory landscape. Using EH&S compliance software helps make tasks simpler and protect businesses from getting caught off-guard with new regulations.
The SafetyStratus Research Advisory Group (RAG) brings together thought leaders from the global environmental, health, and safety community to promote best practices and provide key insights in the profession and the industries they serve. The Research Advisory Group also advocates, where practical, the intersection of and advances with the use of technology, such as the SafetyStratus enterprise EHS software platform. Group membership consists of representatives from across varied disciplines and market sectors as well as select members of the SafetyStratus team.
The primary objectives of the SafetyStratus RAG partnership are to:
- Build a strategic partnership between EHS practitioners and the SafetyStratus team.
- Provide engaging and practical content to the global EHS community.
- Provide discipline and market feedback specific to SafetyStratus products and services.
While the objectives of the RAG are varied, the primary public-facing outcome will be available through engaging and practical content found on the SafetyStratus resource pages. Various articles, papers, and other valuable resources will be produced and shared as part of an ongoing effort to cultivate a robust community. Ultimately, the SafetyStratus RAG will expand to have a broader reach and provide opportunities for more inclusion by all interested EHS professionals in a collaborative community environment.
Parker, C. REDUCING THE RISK OF POLICY FAILURE: CHALLENGES FOR REGULATORY COMPLIANCE. Retrieved 4 July 2022, from https://www.oecd.org/regreform/regulatory-policy/1910833.pdf
Rajwani, T., Lawton, T., & Phillips, N. (2015). The “Voice of Industry”: Why management researchers should pay more attention to trade associations. Strategic Organization, 13(3), 224-232. doi: 10.1177/1476127015590963