Organizations Must Prepare for Regulatory Change

Laura Andrew
Laura Andrew
July 29, 2021
Sponsored by: Dakota Software
NAEM Blog Organizations Must Prepare For Regulatory Change
Environment, health, and safety (EHS) managers know that theirs is a profession of constant change. EHS is founded on a cycle of continuous improvement, and moving beyond compliance is a perpetual goal towards which to strive. However, EHS professionals should expect a greater than usual level of change in the coming months and years—and it’s imperative to be prepared.

Regulatory agencies and leaders in government, as well as company shareholders, executives, employees, and the general public, are prioritizing environmental, health, and safety considerations more now than any other time in recent memory. This added interest and increased valuation of the issues associated with EHS will spark relatively quick action.

Here’s an overview of what might be expected and how EHS professionals can take proactive steps to not just survive but thrive amid a choppy sea of fast-paced changes.

Change Is Not a Matter of ‘If,’ but ‘When’

The Biden administration is pursuing aggressive regulatory change and stronger enforcement related to matters of safety and the environment, as well as more well-defined standards regarding environmental, social, and governance (ESG) disclosures. Here are a few of the actions that signal changes are on the way: The foundation for change has clearly been laid, making new EHS compliance challenges not a matter of if, but when.

No Excuse to Be Caught Off Guard

With this new landscape clearly visible on the horizon, now is not the time to take a “wait-and-see” approach. Instead, professionals and managers must take steps to ensure that they are prepared to track and keep pace with regulatory change.

While this latest push for EHS regulatory change addresses new challenges, it is not wholly unprecedented—and time-tested strategies continue to help ensure compliance success. A 2017 report from the National Association of Environmental Management (NAEM) provides insight into such key strategies, including the following five:
  • Rely on relevant expertise
  • Instead of wasting time on manually entering safety data, the team is freed up to work on proactive tasks such as developing job safety analyses and new safety training.
  • Tap into technology
  • Leverage staff capacity to manage risks
  • Establish strong internal standards
  • Demonstrate proactive leadership

This proactive leadership requires EHS managers to ensure they are aware of recent changes, both enacted and proposed, as well as the actions they must take to satisfy their regulatory obligations. The same NAEM report outlines five important skills required to effectively track of emerging EHS regulations:
  • The ability to analyze and understand complex technical problems
  • Thinking strategically to identify the ramifications of a new or proposed regulation
  • Interacting comfortably with employees at all levels of an organization
  • The confidence to make sound, defensible decisions, often on short notice
  • The ability to communicate clearly and frequently with both technical and non-technical personnel
Naturally, it is more cost-effective to develop these skills with in-house EHS personnel rather than relying on third-party consultants. However, even the most skilled EHS manager still needs the right tools in order to stay informed.

Stay Informed and Compliant Amid Complexity

Amid regulatory change, staying informed can be a complex process, but the benefits are very much worth the effort. For example:
  • Effective compliance management can help avoid fines and penalties. Of course, effective EHS compliance management goes far beyond avoiding the negative consequences of enforcement
  • Strong compliance programs create a foundation for operational success. EHS teams can play a key role in positioning their companies to better achieve their growth goals while staying in alignment with ESG goals
  • By being prepared for external enforcement, EHS managers are prepared for internal policy. Along with regulatory change tracking, companies must ensure that internal policies are being updated in accordance with federal, state, and local requirements and consider stakeholder expectations. This in turn ensures that organizations have processes in place to ensure that audit protocols are up-to-date and employee training meets current standard
Technology can assist in the pursuit of all of these goals. Dakota Software’s compliance management products feature a library of EHS requirements that are constantly updated by our in-house team of experts. This includes in-product regulatory notifications as well as facility-specific regulatory alerts emails.

To help the EHS community prepare for the coming changes, Dakota recently made EHS Regulatory Alerts emails available to all EHS professionals. Each email provides a plain-language summary of the latest proposed rules, final rules, and other changes that may require action on your part, a list of affected standards, and hyperlinks to the full-text regulations to provide additional context.

While this regulatory guidance is most useful when integrated with Dakota’s EHS compliance planning and assessment tools, we are confident that it will help you prepare for inevitable regulatory changes. You can sign up here.

What Good Is a Library Without Books?

An EHS management system that requires you to manually track regulatory developments is like a library without books… a costly library without books. Manual tracking processes are woefully inefficient, and compliance is far more difficult to maintain if all of your organization’s facilities are approaching it differently. Organizations looking to create a strong foundation of compliance must centralize regulatory tracking and documentation.

At Dakota Software, we have been helping companies address these exact challenges for more than 30 years. Our EHS compliance planning and audit platform is a unique combination of software and curated regulatory content. Let us show you how we can help you and your organization. Contact us to request a demo today!


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About the Author

Laura Andrew
Laura Andrew
Dakota Software
Ms. Andrew is responsible for assisting clients and partners in their implementation of Dakota software by building profiles, creating compliance calendars, loading company and site specific tasks and audit protocols, conducting audits and guiding efforts to use various applications. With a background in engineering and over 25 years experience in environmental and safety management in the transportation, food and pharmaceutical industries, she serves as a subject matter expert for various Dakota applications. 

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