Environmental and occupational health and safety laws and regulations are numerous, complex and often confusing.
There are literally thousands of environmental safety and health laws and regulations developed and administered by a confusing array of national, state and local governmental agencies – both in the United States and abroad. In addition, there are hundreds of consensus standards and other directives that may be considered “other requirements” for purposes of conforming with management system standards.
Determining which of these legal and other requirements are applicable to your operations is often a difficult task. It is, however, critical. Failing to comply with a requirement may lead to substantial fines or other penalties. Complying with regulations that are not required can use resources that could be better spent elsewhere.
When implementing an environmental or safety and health management system, compliance must be addressed as an integral part of your management system.
Four Steps to Developing an Effective Compliance Program
There are four steps to establishing an effective Compliance Program:
- Identifying your compliance requirements
- Developing processes to ensure those compliance obligations are met
- Developing and implementing a process for evaluating your compliance status
- Reporting to Top Management about your compliance status
Step 1 – Identify your Compliance Requirements
Before you can address your legal and other requirements you need to know what they are. This means identifying specifically what it is you are required to do.
ENLAR has helped a number of organization meet this requirement through the development of Site-Specific Compliance Guidebooks.
Step 2 – Implement your Compliance Program
Once you know what your legal requirements are, you can develop a compliance program to ensure that each requirement is addressed when and how it must be done. This may include:
- Completing and filing reports with environmental agencies
- Applying for licenses or permits
- Implementing product or workplace labeling
- Developing written plans or procedures
- Undertaking periodic inspection or sampling programs
Step 3 – Evaluate your Compliance Status
ISO 14001 and OHSAS 18001 require that you develop a procedure to periodically evaluate your compliance status. This procedure needs to address who is going to do this evaluation, when and how often it is going to be done and the process to be used. In addition, this procedure needs to address other legal concerns. In the United States, this means taking into account the US EPA Audit Policy and Department of Justice Sentencing Guidelines.
Step 4 – Report to Top Management
Top Management cannot make a commitment to compliance without being informed about what this means.