What is (EHS Regulatory) Compliance?

by Tjeerd Hendel-Blackford 03 Apr. 2019

“Compliance” has a straightforward definition:

compliance definition

“Meeting rules or standards” encompasses compliance, and its role in EHS, nicely. However, in the complex world we live in, the “rules or standards” that need to be complied with can vary greatly depending on the situation.

Compliance can mean different things to different people in different industries:

  • Medicine must comply with strict testing regulations and earn appropriate licenses before it can be placed on the market.
  • Financial reporting requirements must be strictly complied with.
  • Products placed on the market will need to comply with a host of technical standards (EN, BS and ISO) before they can be sold.
  • Internal corporate standards must be complied with.

All of these (and many more) need to be complied with.

However, what we at Enhesa do is help companies manage their EHS Regulatory Compliance.

The particular type of rules or standards that we help companies comply with are any environmental, health and safety (EHS)-related laws and regulations, worldwide, that may impact your company’s operations.

To put this another way, if you operate multiple factories in China, India, Germany and the United States, you will need to ensure those facilities are in compliance with the local EHS laws. This ensures that your people are kept safe at work; you do not pollute the environment and ultimately you can keep operating your business. This is a fundamental component of sound risk, corporate governance and business continuity management

EHS Regulatory Compliance is a fundamental part of the requirements in ISO 45001 and ISO 14001 to “maintain knowledge and understanding of your compliance status.” Under these standards, you need to have an awareness of your compliance risks on an on-going basis—at any given time.

What types of EHS-related law and regulations are we talking about? By way of example, for a typical industrial manufacturing operation we would make the following assumptions:

 Subject Assumptions
General
  • Major on-site activities are industrial manufacturing. There are likely to be mechanical workshops and large storage facilities.
  • Sites are likely to require environmental permits.
  • Responsibilities for soil/groundwater contamination apply.
  • Industrial activities may require compliance with EIA requirements.
Air Emissions and Related
  • Significant air emissions are from heating installations, such as boilers.
  • Industrial and manufacturing processes result in air emissions.
  • Facilities may emit a large amount of greenhouse gases.
  • Solvent emissions are associated with industrial/manufacturing facility activities.
  • Facilities operate movable emergency generators.
  • Facility managers are responsible for the energy efficiency of the building.
  • On-site process and equipment generate odors.
  • Environmental radiation may be emitted by roof antennae and other equipment.
Water
  • Facilities abstract water for the purpose of manufacturing processes.
  • Facilities may abstract water for drinking water and building management.
  • Wastewater is discharged to the public sewer system, directly to surface waters or released to the ground.
  • There may be a wastewater treatment plant on-site.
Waste
  • Facilities generate waste.
  • Facilities generate hazardous waste.
  • Facilities may treat and/or dispose of waste on-site, but this is not the main activity of the facility. Facilities are more likely to co-sign hazardous waste for transport, treatment and disposal.
  • Facilities may generate used oil from maintenance operations.
  • Facilities may generate specific types of waste including electronic equipment, batteries and packaging waste.
  • On-site medical facilities, such as first-aid or resting rooms, may result in the generation of medical waste.
  • In some jurisdictions, companies may have their own waste disposal operations on site.
Chemical Management
  • Facilities may export and/or import chemicals.
  • Facilities use chemicals in their manufacturing processes.
  • Repacking and relabelling of chemicals and/or chemical products may take place.
  • Fire extinguishers may contain PFOS or its salts.
  • Employees and contractors may use chemicals with hazardous properties.
  • Facilities may have cooling equipment containing ozone depleting substances (ODS) or fluorinated greenhouse gases.
  • Facilities may also use chemicals that are covered by the Chemical Weapon Convention or that are drug precursors.
Hazardous Materials and Dangerous Goods
  • Facilities may use and store heating fuels and other hazardous materials.
  • Facilities do not transport their own dangerous goods. They contract/consign for the transport of dangerous goods/hazardous materials by road, air, rail, in-land waterways and maritime.
  • Insulation oil in heavy electric machinery such as transformers, capacitors/condensers and other equipment may contain PCBs.
  • Asbestos may be present in buildings or equipment located in facilities. Specific requirements applying to renovation or construction work may require the removal of asbestos.
  • There is significant warehousing or storage space on-site for hazardous materials.
  • Facilities may also store and use explosives.
Safety Management
  • Facilities are subject to general duty of care requirements such as general workplace risk assessments.
  • The employer must provide employees with health and safety training.
  • Facilities may have to employ a specific health and safety expert and/or service.
  • Facilities may employ temporary, young, or night workers—as well as pregnant/breastfeeding women.
  • Facilities may have contractors on-site to perform construction activities.
Technical Safety
  • Facilities use a variety of machinery and work equipment.
  • Maintenance activities in industrial/manufacturing facilities may be subcontracted or handled by in-house staff.
  • Certain activities on-site may require the use of PPE.
  • Facilities have confined spaces such as air conditioning units, tanks, basements and server rooms.
  • Facilities have lifting equipment, including forklifts or elevators for people or goods.
  • A variety of working at high-height activities may occur, including climbing ladders, window cleaning and accessing the roof.
  • Pressure vessels may be used at the facility.
  • Electrical installations must comply with installation, inspection and maintenance requirements.
  • There may be small laboratories in the facility. 
Emergency  
  • Facilities must comply with emergency preparedness requirements like emergency equipment and evacuation procedures.
  • There may be accidental releases and spills that occur on-site.
  • There may be special emergency requirements for certain large-scale chemical companies.
Occupational Health
  • First-aid equipment will be provided and can include first-aid rooms.
  • Workers may use visual screen equipment for large portions of the day.
  •   Exposure to chemicals, including exposure related to processing and manufacturing activities and the use of cleaning chemicals, inks, solvents, substances used during testing and maintenance.
  • Noise exposure can occur in processing and manufacturing activities.
  • Contact with biological agents related to processing and manufacturing activities can occur.  However, exposure to biological agents can also occur unintentionally such as blood borne pathogens during first aid treatment and Legionella.
  • Workers may be exposed to asbestos if the asbestos is friable.  There may be additional requirements if workers are exposed to the substance during manufacturing processes. 
  • Building materials may contain lead paint on wall and lead pipes.
  • Employees may be exposed to non-ionizing radiation.  A source of non-ionizing radiation includes lasers.
  • Activities may require the use of x-ray equipment and sealed sources such as measuring equipment, which are sources of ionizing radiation.  Employees may also be exposed to radiation due to the use of radioactive equipment related to processing and manufacturing activities.

 

We cover the legal requirements your sites (in each jurisdiction) would need to comply with related to these. 

 

Want to learn more? Contact us at info@enhesa.com