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What is an EHS Compliance Calendar and Why Do You Need One?

April 8th, 2022 by Dakota Software Staff

What is an EHS Compliance Calendar and Why Do You Need One?

Ensuring your company's compliance with the ever-changing regulatory landscape is challenging, and there is no one-size-fits-all solution. Instead, each company must identify the federal, local, and industry regulations applicable to its location and operations.

A compliance calendar manages the process by consolidating and tracking all your company's essential regulations, permits, reporting deadlines, and information in one place. This centralized approach means you’ll forget fewer obligations and reduce your company's likelihood of noncompliance.

Why your business needs one

Avoid fines and government scrutiny - Non-compliance gets the attention of regulatory bodies, and failing to submit one day might have a government inspector knocking on your door the next. However, unwanted scrutiny from regulatory bodies isn't the only risk of missing deadlines. Non-compliance can also slow operations and hurt your brand, which could have lasting repercussions for your business.

Become more proactive - Getting caught off guard by an upcoming reporting deadline is highly stressful. Compliance isn't a one-person job; it's a team effort, and collecting documents, filling out paperwork, and asking questions takes time. If you are scrambling at the end, something might fall through the cracks, and your company might fall out of compliance.

A compliance calendar lets you know what's coming, giving you adequate time to plan, collect what you need, and be ready when the deadline arrives. So again, it’s being proactive with your compliance instead of reactive.

Insight into your company's current compliance - Compiling and tracking the actions that must be taken to ensure compliance when deadlines arrive is crucial. Tracking actions items allows you to confirm the completion of tasks and identify tasks behind schedule, focusing your attention where it's needed most. It also provides valuable insight into your company's current regulatory health and obligations.

What should be in a compliance calendar?

What you do and don’t include on your compliance calendar can come down to personal preference. However, the most important things to include are industry-specific, state-specific, and federal requirements. From there, you can also include permit renewals, company policies, and management system requirements.

Here are some examples of things that might be on your compliance calendar:

  • EPCRA Tier II reporting: The Emergency Planning and Community Right-To-Know Act (EPCRA) protects the public from the dangers associated with hazardous chemicals. It applies to any facility in the U.S. that stores or handles more than 10,000 pounds of hazardous chemicals or 500 pounds (or its threshold planning quantity) of an extremely hazardous substance. In addition, those facilities must file an annual Tier II report for the previous year with the SERC, LEPC, and local fire department by March 1st.

  • OSHA annual reporting: Most companies in the United States must submit work-related injury and illness data to OSHA. OSHA Form 300A is a year-end report of recordable injuries or illnesses that you must submit to OSHA by March 2nd.

  • Industrial Stormwater Permit: Depending on the state, this is an annual permit implemented and enforced by the state water board to regulate the discharge of stormwater and non-stormwater from industrial facilities.

  • ISO Certification Audits: ISO is an international standardization body that conducts various stages of audits for those wishing to be certified. If you are ISO certified, you will need to do annual surveillance audits and get recertified every three years.

Ways to create and manage a compliance calendar

Homemade - Some companies choose to create their compliance calendars from scratch by spreading dates, reminders, and notifications across email, spreadsheets, and company calendars. This method can work, at least for a time. However, the process can quickly become overwhelming, and because regulations are constantly changing, they can soon become outdated.

Home-made systems often don't make sense to those outside the original builder. If that person leaves, you can lose access to that vital information. Managing this type of system is also time-consuming because someone will need to update the system as regulations change and people enter or leave positions. If you have an automatic email set up for a person who retired three years ago, your system doesn’t work.

Commercial Software - One way to consolidate everything into one place is by using software designed to manage your compliance calendar. Unfortunately, while this solves the inconvenience of managing a calendar on your own, it also has problems.

These systems often don’t address the most prominent issue companies face regarding compliance; determining which regulations apply to their company. Further, if they offer support in that area, they often don't continually update their regulatory library. This can result in your company's compliance slowly slipping away unnoticed as regulations change.

Another issue is the difficulty many users have navigating the software or understanding the detailed regulatory information provided. Every company is different, and this one-size-fits-all approach that many software options take towards compliance just doesn’t cut it.

How Dakota Software can help

Dakota Software’s ProActivity Suite solves those nagging issues that have plagued the industry for years. Decision-Tree-Logic helps you create your site-specific compliance profile, making it easy to identify your business's regulatory requirements.

A fully integrated and continuously updated regulatory database keeps you informed as regulations change and simplifies the complex subject matter into easy-to-understand language. In addition, Dakota Tracer’s user-friendly interface makes it easy to track action items to closure, so nothing falls through the cracks.

Check out our compliance planning demo video for more information on how Dakota can help alleviate your compliance management headaches.

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