In it for the Long Run (Part 1: Recognizing EHS Compliance Hurdles)

by Jessica Sarnowski, Head of Content Marketing & Thought Leadership 18 Dec. 2019

In it for the Long Run is a series of blog posts that follows the journey of a newly appointed environmental, health and safety (EHS) Director. We follow the Director as she wrestles with recognizing initial EHS compliance hurdles for her team (Part 1) and how she will make the case to the C-Suite for investing in environmental compliance (Part 2). In order to overcome obstacles to compliance, the Director will need to determine which EHS solution (content provider) is right for her team (Part 3) and she will need to figure out how to roll-out the EHS solution effectively (Part 4). Finally, she must maintain compliance at her company’s facilities through effective use of the EHS solution (Part 5).

The holiday season is upon us. The smell of pine trees, the soft glow of lights on houses, and the biting cold air that promises snowfall in the very near future.

Zoom into an office building in the city. It is 6:00pm on Wednesday, December 23rd. Sitting in a small, but well-organized, office is the EHS Director of a large corporation. She recently joined the company and has been tasked with reducing injuries and illnesses in the coming year and improving the environmental footprint of the company’s vast manufacturing operations. The Director has a good education in environmental engineering from a respected university and she’s worked for consulting firms before, but never in the corporate world. Her responsibilities are about to be very real and she knows that she has about one year to prove herself and get results. She wants to succeed because she’s in it for the long run.

The Director pores over papers on her desk left by her predecessor. There are hundreds of pages of regulatory requirements with some handwritten notes. There are air and water permits with detailed calculations and requirements, and there are old copies of records and reports sent to government agencies. The sheer volume of paper is overwhelming and the documentation doesn’t seem to correlate. The Director turns on her computer and searches the files, looking for clues to how to mange this all.

Perhaps you have experienced something similar at the start of a new job (and if not, then you are very fortunate). When you started your job, you most likely realized that the role of the EHS Director is rewarding but challenging, and in order to succeed, you need to take a deep breath and a step back and try to organize your thoughts and strategy.

You face a few major hurdles:

1) Determining which regulations apply to your business operations

2) Figuring out what you need to do to comply with them

3) Organizing your requirements

4) Applying the requirements to your operations (and once applied, keeping track of the results for internal and external reporting purposes).

You consider your EHS staff: None of them are lawyers, but they are all smart scientists and engineers. You can’t rely on them to interpret regulations, but you can provide them with information that they can use to execute on compliance.

You consider your budget: How much money can you devote to EHS compliance? Should you hire independent consultants? Do you have money for more full -time employees? What about a law firm? You’ve made the case to the C-suite that your department has value, but did they give you enough for these expenses? How about purchasing a regulatory content provider’s tool (such as ours)?

You consider your company profile: Is the company known as a leader in EHS and sustainability? Are you proud to be leading the charge at this company because it has a good reputation for corporate social responsibility? You want to ensure that you carry on this legacy. If the company doesn’t have a great track record, you want to make strides to improve it.

Let’s go back now to the Director. She takes a sip of coffee and looks out of her office window. The people below shiver and wrap themselves in jackets and scarves as they scurry to make their trains. She looks at the time: 8:00pm. Two hours have passed, and she’s researched a variety of regulatory content providers, EHS software solutions and consultants. It is time to take a few days to let this all sink in.

The Director knows she wants a solution that she can apply to her global operations. The solution must have a standardized approach to compliance so that she can have oversight over her sites in a consistent fashion.

She powers down her computer (and checks that the monitor is shut off too– she does care, after all, about saving electricity). As she closes her office door, she sighs with relief, “it’s a start,” she thinks.

She’ll return in the new year to take on this task. She’s in it for the long run….and so are we.

As you prepare for the long run and what's to come in 2020, utilize Enhesa's Compliance Intelligence and Regulatory Forecaster to comply with regulatory requirements and to monitor EHS developments.