Nowadays, businesses don’t prioritize the environment, health, and safety (EHS) compliance in their operations. While business owners don’t see this as that big of a deal, it can hurt one’s business. This article discusses the importance of being compliant with EHS regulations and regular EHS audits.
Running a business can be hard for newbie business owners. There are just so many things to keep track of when dealing with business operations. More often than not, some lesser-known aspects of running a business are overlooked. Environment, health, and safety (EHS) compliance are, unfortunately, one of those aspects.
This can be quite problematic for business owners in the future. Especially if they don’t have EHS programs like FL Data.
When we talk about EHS regulations, we refer to the workplace laws and policies mandated by the government and authoritative bodies in the industry that are in place to ensure the safety and wellbeing of a business’ workers.
Being EHS compliant means that a business is doing all that it has to do to stay in line with these industry and government regulations. This is not only a business’s ethical obligation to its workers; it’s a legal one, too. Failure to comply with EHS regulations can get a company into serious trouble.
Why EHS Compliance and EHS Software Like FL Data Are Important
Why is it essential to maintain EHS compliance? The simple answer is that compliance means that one’s workers are working in a safe working environment. Something that should be one of the top priorities of any business owner. Compliance is practically a requirement for running a safe and productive business.
Not complying with EHS regulations can have nasty repercussions for one’s business. Not only in the legal sense but a business’ finances and reputation can also put on the line.
If one’s business is caught in violation of EHS regulations, it’s slapped with a big, costly fine. While this already negatively affects a business’ finances, this is just the start of a long line of more expenses one needs to incur to mitigate damages caused by the violation and eventually comply with the regulation.
First, there are attorney and consultancy fees to pay for. Then, one also has to consider paying for employee hours that aren’t spent on normal business operations. Hours that are used to focus on mitigating the noncompliance damages and hours that are used to educate and train or retrain workers about compliance.
Some environmental regulatory bodies also require businesses to undertake ecological projects on top of violation fines. These projects add to the already growing list of expenses that could be avoided with EHS compliance.
Suspension of Operations
When a business has multiple counts of EHS noncompliance or if a company makes a grave violation, regulatory bodies can order a cease and desist notice and have companies to stop their operations until they can ensure EHS compliance.
Even small businesses can suffer significant losses from a day of no operations. If operations are halted for weeks or even months, companies are sure to have trouble making up for the losses incurred – expenses and the loss of potential income.
The suspension of one’s operation also damages a brand’s reputation (discussed in the next point), which would then lead to a potential decrease in patronage/customers.
It’s easier to maintain one’s business’ reputation than to rebuild it when it’s damaged. Consumers are becoming more aware of the brands they support and would most likely stop supporting companies that are unable to provide their workers with a safe working environment.
More severe EHS violations can lead to criminal charges for one’s business and employees. Again, this would lead to the incurring of even more legal fees to have these charges settled. News of this can further deteriorate one’s brand reputation, too.
One can expect to have a high employee turnover rate when employees do not feel safe in their working environment. This negatively impacts a business’s resources and reputation. More money is spent on hiring and training new employees who would most likely not have the same production or efficiency levels as tenured employees until they gain more experience over time.
A high employee turnover rate can also turn people away from working for one’s business. It’s a red flag for any job seeker.
Importance of Conducting EHS Regulatory Compliance Audits
An EHS compliance audit is an assessment that determines whether a business’ workplace complies with industry and government regulations. Independent audit firms usually perform these audits. But they can also be done internally with the help of FL Data or other EHS software.
During an audit, EHS managers take notes of risks and opportunities for improvement to improve on existing company policies if needed.
At the end of an EHS compliance audit, EHS audit score is given for every business. This score is vital because regulatory bodies like the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) may require it.
A high EHS compliance score can also be used to build up one’s business’ brand reputation as a business that prioritizes its employees and their safety above all else.
Audits can be intimidating, but one can prepare for them and ensure they go well.
Before an EHS Audit
There are three things one can prepare before an EHS audit:
1) Determine the regulations that apply to the business
The first and probably most crucial step to ensuring compliance is actually to know what regulations apply to one’s business. There are so many industry regulations for different companies to follow, but they aren’t necessarily applicable to all of them.
While a food processing facility and a shoe factory would have some similar workplace regulations, there are surely ones that don’t apply to both.
2) List policies that enforce these regulations and ensure compliance
Business owners should also be aware of the policies that the business has in place to ensure compliance with these regulations.
Having a list of these existing policies can help one determine if any regulation has been overlooked or if the business has all points covered.
3) Research about other regulations that the business might have overlooked
The problematic thing about regulations is that they aren’t always final – they can change over time. One may be strictly enforcing a specific regulation in the workplace only to find out that the regulation has been updated multiple times, and the policies they’ve enforced are actually out of date.
To avoid this, continuous research is recommended.