Five Ways to Proactively Plan for Compliance
The confusion surrounding the Hazardous Waste Generator Improvements Rule is a telling example of the uncertainty facing companies today. While the Rule went into effect in May 2017 on the federal level, compliance and enforcement of the hazardous waste program has been delegated to each state. With the deadline to adopt the provisions of the new rule passing in July 2018 (or quickly approaching in July 2019 for states with a regulatory process that includes a legislative step), many states are still working to adopt the rule. For multi-state organizations, this is a confusing and complicated landscape to navigate.
The Hazardous Waste Rule illustrates the growing complexities of EHS compliance for today’s EHS&S professionals. Not only do companies need to monitor the federal landscape, but they must also keep abreast of state-by-state regulations and industry-specific issues that impact their day-to-day operations. However, staying on top of key developments on everything from climate change to workplace safety is no small task.
So how can EHS&S professionals stay on the right side of compliance and proactively plan for the future in an environment that continues to be unpredictable and volatile? The following five steps are key in preparing for compliance and ensuring that your organization is staying ahead:
- Start by regularly evaluating your baseline: Understand where your organization stands right now. Being in-the-know about your current status involves asking the right questions:
- What equipment do we have? Does it need repair for safety reasons?
- Is there new technology that can keep workers safe or make a process more efficient?
- Is our permitting in order?
- Is there any current legislation, regulation, or litigation that is impacting our business?
- Know the difference between your baseline and benchmarks: Know where you need to be in the short-term. It’s critical to know what compliance issues are coming down the road and how those changes will impact everything from supply chain and permitting to your operations and safety plan. Additionally, these compliance changes may even affect certain revenue streams. Therefore, staying informed about compliance changes, and making the needed adjustments to your business, can have long-term ramifications.
- Monitor everything and stay informed: Know where you want to go and where the landscape may be headed in the long-term.
- Get monitoring alerts to help you stay current with the patchwork of state regulations. Many companies today have to worry about municipal, state, federal, and international regulation. Alerts notify you of changes and tracking tools help you manage workflow in your organization to ensure compliance happens.
- News will keep you abreast of current events, trends, and innovation. How might your company gain efficiencies through evolving technology like blockchain? Or, how might an innovation like blockchain disrupt your business model?
- Expert analysis does the heavy lifting for you. Let the analysis connect the practical dots between the letter of the law and what needs to happen in the field or on the factory floor.
- Benchmark against competitors so you know where you stand and where you need to gain.
- It takes a village: Compliance, and staying ahead of it, can be complicated. Talk to your attorney, or connect with your network. Know who you can talk to and get connected with those people. Getting involved with your trade associations and discussing key issues with others who are dealing with similar challenges will only help you better identify solutions that best work for your organization. If you’re a compliance professional, make sure you regularly talk to compliance professionals at other companies.
- Walk around: Know how people work in your organization. Manage by walking around, chatting up employees and asking them about how they do their jobs. Understand their challenges at work and then ask them for their ideas. You may find that you have a compliance problem you didn’t know about. Your employees and counterparts may have ideas about how things can be done easier, cheaper, or faster. Who knows? Maybe someone even has an idea for your next revenue stream.