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Dakota Software's Blog for EHS and Sustainability Professionals

Automating Your EHS Compliance Program

July 7th, 2021 by Dakota Software Staff

Automating Your EHS Compliance Program

When it comes to environmental, health, and safety (EHS) compliance, there’s a lot of moving parts to consider. You can try to tackle them all yourself, or you can take advantage of technology to automate some of the key components. Doing so will allow you to save time, increase productivity, and allow your team to focus on the most important aspects of your EHS program. In addition, you’ll be able to stay on top of the latest regulatory changes and know instantly whether they affect your business and require immediate action.

EHS compliance automation takes processes that would take days to complete manually and finishes them in a fraction of the time. EHS software helps you with compliance planning, corrective and preventive action management, EHS auditing, incident and accident management, sustainability and performance, and training and learning management.

Staying ahead of regulatory changes

EHS compliance requires you to keep up with all relevant laws and regulations that impact your business, including proposed changes and final rulings.

Using an EHS alert service or software allows you to set up alerts for regulatory changes from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), and Department of Transportation (DOT).

Dakota’s EHS Regulatory Alerts provides a summary of the latest proposed rules, final rules, and other relevant changes, a list of affected citations, and links to the full-text regulations. Alerts cover environmental topics including solid and hazardous waste, water quality, air quality, storage tanks, PCB management, Toxic Substances Control Act, spill prevention, transportation, and the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act. They also cover health and safety topics including chemical and physical exposures, equipment safeguards, worker safety, and health and medical services.

Building and maintaining compliance plans

To aid with compliance planning, you can use EHS software to create compliance calendars that allow you to schedule and set up alerts for regulatory deadlines. You can create a detailed citation list for each site to help facility managers plan and assign activities based on relevant and current requirements. Including links to related regulatory citations can help provide clarification and guidance to the responsible person.

Automation can help you to notify employees when an assigned task is due, helping you to establish accountability. You can schedule repeating tasks on a frequency if necessary.

With Dakota Profiler, you can create regulatory profiles using decision-tree logic to determine applicable site-specific regulations, and then use those profiles to conduct site-specific audits.

Streamlining the EHS audit process

Identifying gaps in your compliance programs is a critical piece of the puzzle, especially when dealing with complex and ever-changing requirements. With Dakota Auditor, you’re able to easily test and verify a site’s compliance status while centralizing documentation and findings. All relevant audit checklists and EHS requirements are referenceable as auditors leverage the site profiles created in Profiler.

Auditor allows you to:

  • Build site-specific audits based on regulatory profiles

  • Determine audit scope and develop checklists

  • Migrate audits to leverage prior results

  • Use custom protocols and conduct team-based audits

  • Train auditors and on-site EHS professionals

  • Manage audit data and create corrective action plans

Closing the loop on corrective actions

You can use automation software to assign corrective actions based on incidents, audits, and inspections. After you conduct a site-specific audit using a regulatory profile, you’ll get an action items list that includes links to regulatory citations and audit findings. A red flag in the audit or inspection may trigger a corrective action task that must be completed prior to closing out the red flag. Similar actions must be completed to close out an incident investigation.

Gaining insight from incidents and near misses

Incident management software allows you to track and trend incidents to improve compliance and overall safety performance. Unlike spreadsheets and paper forms, using standard online forms for data capture enables consistent data capture that rolls up into interactive dashboards. This allows you to analyze data to find compliance gaps, identify emerging issues, and reduce the chance of future incidents, fines, and penalties.

An incident management application helps you:

  • Capture and centralize injuries, near misses, and other incidents

  • Get a real-time picture of safety programs across the enterprise through reports and dashboards

  • Recognize trends and subtle correlations between data fields that might have otherwise gone unnoticed

  • Generate incident reports including OSHA 300 Log Reports and FROI

  • Initiate and track corrective actions

Demonstrating your committment to corporate social responsibility

When it comes to sustainability and performance, you need metrics to track and report on energy usage, GHG emissions, and other KPIs related to corporate sustainability initiatives. This includes flexible dashboards to support deep analytics that help surface opportunities and optimize resource utilization. Detailed audit trails ensure data integrity and accuracy for regulatory and Environmental, Social, Governance (ESG) reporting.

Sustainability and performance metrics allow you to:

  • Collect and analyze data related to environmental, social, and financial targets

  • Evaluate the success of your energy reduction and natural resource utilization programs

  • Monitor activities throughout the enterprise to ensure alignment with corporate initiatives

  • Create and share customized dashboards and reports

  • Generate sustainability and CSR reports

Delivering relevant safety training to employees

The use of online safety and compliance training courses can provide your employees with the training they need to work safely while keeping lost productivity to a minimum. Using online and mobile friendly interactive courses can be delivered to employees wherever they are, ensuring consistency, improving knowledge retention, and reducing overall training time.

Conclusion

EHS is vital to the operation of any organization. Automation of the processes listed above is crucial in helping you ensure that you’re tracking all elements of your EHS program, providing the proper training, and documenting compliance and areas that need improvement.

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