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Dakota Software's Blog for EHS and Sustainability Professionals
August 16th, 2017 by Robert Kimball
Between 2006 and 2016, the U.S. Federal Register grew by nearly 28%. The EPA and OSHA together have approximately 200 regulations, on average, in development each year. Each of those regulations may have dozens or hundreds of ‘action-forcing’ requirements, all which need to be identified, clarified, and disseminated to the appropriate staff. Add to this the complexity of tracking global regulations and local requirements for every location in which your organization operates, and it’s no wonder that EHS managers list regulatory tracking as one of their top challenges.
Dakota Software knows a thing or two about tracking and managing regulatory requirements (it’s been central to our EHS software offering since 1988). That is why we recently sponsored a report on the subject by the National Association of Environmental Management (NAEM). “Staying Ahead of the Curve, Strategies for Managing Emerging Regulations” outlines the many challenges of manually tracking regulations and offers recommendations that organizations can use to audit, build, or strengthen their EHS compliance management program. Based on interviews with corporate EHS executives and industry consultants it offers the following key strategies.
1) Rely on relevant expertise
Organizations who manage compliance successfully know their limitations and most importantly, as the report states, “know what they don’t know.” Collaborating with colleagues, peers, and outside experts can serve as “an early warning system” to prepare you for changes and the related risks.
2) Tap into technology
With the dawn of the internet age, monitoring regulatory changes has never been easier. Unfortunately, regulations have become so complex that interpreting changes and identifying what is applicable has never been more difficult. Additionally, the report suggests organizations should avoid disparate systems and should establish “one repository so everyone sees the same information.”
3) Leverage staff capacity to manage risks
Presenting regulatory information to EHS teams in a logical and consistent manner is critical to compliance. Site level EHS managers typically bear the burden of local change tracking but should be provided a means to disseminate that information to site staff and report on shifting risk profiles to corporate managers.
4) Establish strong internal standards
Performing a Gap Analysis remains a popular method for identifying compliance process improvements related to regulatory changes. Forward thinking companies reinforce culture through proactive compliance calendars, training, and periodic compliance audits conducted by independent third parties.
5) Demonstrate proactive leadership
As regulations age, the likelihood of large scale changes is more likely. In the case of the 2016 TSCA reforms, the EPA successfully collaborated with major players from the chemical industry. Many EHS experts see this as a continuing trend where industry can help shape changing requirements and avoid being “blindsided when new rules are released.”
Dakota’s perspective - Don’t make your EHS staff into librarians
An EHS management system that requires manual regulatory tracking is like a library without books. System administrators, who must keep the library up-to-date, end up feeling like they are working for the software instead of the other way around. As mentioned earlier, Dakota Software has been helping companies address these exact challenges for nearly 30 years. Our unique EHS software platform includes a library of translated regulatory content that is constantly enriched by our team of regulatory experts. Our approach is truly unique and must be seen to be believed. Click here to see it in action.
As a sponsor, we're pleased to provide a complimentary copy of the full NAEM report.