It’s Not Easy Being Green… Or Is It?
How Software Advances are Enhancing EH&S Compliance
- By Reg Shiverick
- Mar 27, 2008
You invest resources into improving operations to drive EH&S compliance. You build a corporate culture that values safety. You proudly promote yourself as a green company, emphasizing your focus on sustainability and compliance. And then the unthinkable happens -- a spill, an explosion, a deadly fire – something that negates your hard work and shakes the confidence of your entire organization.
"Using new EH&S software tools, we built sustainable regulatory profiles that capture all applicable requirements for each of our sites. Personnel have a much deeper understanding of their requirements, and we considerably accelerated the learning curve for new staff. We now have every confidence that our sites are fully informed and automatically notified of meaningful changes to their requirements."
— Dirk Berard, director, HSE Compliance Assurance, Honeywell Aerospace
Public perception of your company also takes a hit. Consumers may question your commitment to health, safety, and the environment. So might vendors, suppliers, and investors who have high expectations. Just one incident has the potential to tarnish your company’s reputation and negatively impact sales and long-term profits.
Despite your best intentions, compliance-related incidents do happen … but why? The likely cause is a communication breakdown, especially at the site level. Traditional audit-based programs and a lack of timely, concise information at the sites further hinder regulatory compliance. That means less success in achieving sustainability and green objectives.
Recent software advances offer dynamic opportunities to comply with EH&S regulations more efficiently and completely. With the right technology, it is even possible to exceed requirements, establishing you as a leader among green companies. Now everyone in the boardroom and on the plant floor can know exactly what is needed to achieve compliance excellence.
Historically, compliance programs focused on analyzing past performance and calculating year-over-year changes. However, in today’s closely regulated environment relying exclusively on this approach is neither efficient nor adequate. While it is helpful to identify patterns and measure the overall success of your compliance program, it is more important to prevent problems before they happen.
Achieving total compliance means analyzing current trends and taking steps to manage future issues proactively. It means sharing oversight and responsibility at all levels of the organization. It demands an unobstructed view of current gaps and emerging situations that could be problematic. Advanced EH&S software highlights these gaps quickly and specifically for each site.
Real-time reporting tools quickly distribute detailed, forward-looking data throughout the enterprise. And because data is easily extracted, it can be acquired as often as needed to keep compliance programs on track. Armed with prioritized, concise information, sites can shift from reactive to preventive compliance.
Five Keys to Proactive EH&S Compliance
- Maintain a laser-focus only on applicable requirements.
- Establish compliance accountability at the point of control.
- Manage site activities in accordance with corporate guidelines and expectations.
- Integrate corporate sustainability initiatives into day-to-day operations.
- Use software tools to monitor regulatory changes and manage compliance activities.
A Laser Focus on the Right Requirements
Effective compliance requires knowing which regulations pertain to each site. But getting this information has been harder than it should be, with managers plowing through tens of thousands of regulations from a multitude of organizations. Why spend time and effort analyzing requirements when you can be meeting and exceeding them?
Advanced EH&S software provides clear, concise regulatory profiles that accurately capture and filter site-specific regulations in an easy-to-use format. Instead of researching and interpreting data, staff can focus on what impacts them most and take decisive action. Advanced software also offers site-specific citation lists that help identify preventable issues and safeguard your integrity as a green company.
Constantly changing regulations can wreak havoc on the finest compliance program. What is needed is an expedient way to capture meaningful changes and understand how they affect individual sites.
Subscribers to traditional change-tracking services typically receive periodic updates for all regulations. These broad-based reports make it hard to pinpoint changes important to your organization. Harder still is figuring out exactly what is different. Changes such as minor wording and punctuation updates have no effect on compliance, but you must expend time and effort to come to that conclusion.
Advanced EH&S software solves this productivity drain with site-specific compliance profiles. Based on each profile, the software tracks and communicates only substantive regulatory changes that directly affect site operations. Updated information is delivered in real time, not weeks or months later, so staff can act quickly and appropriately to ensure ongoing compliance.
SaaS… Delivering Value, One Person at a Time
Most compliance managers would agree that IT is the last thing they want site professionals focused on. But in-house, self-hosted software creates recurring responsibilities that can distract site staff from their primary responsibility. If they are derailed by technical issues or outdated applications, they cannot concentrate 100 percent on aggressive, proactive compliance.
When evaluating EH&S compliance solutions, you should consider the mechanism by which pertinent, time-sensitive information is delivered. Convenience, speed, and reliability are essential, and the mechanism must be as dynamic and easy to use as the information it provides.
Many progressive organizations prefer to have their EH&S software delivered via the Internet. Software as a Service (SaaS) delivers more information to more people in more locations with less effort and at a low cost. Because you add users as needed and pay only for the services used, it is also more scalable and cost-effective than fixed seat licensing.
SaaS solutions require no massive software installation or IT rollout that can disrupt the business. And because the software is hosted by the provider, the provider assumes full responsibility for software updates and maintenance, back-ups, customer support, firewall protection, and other technical services.
As a real-time solution, SaaS ensures that everyone in the organization always has the most current software and the latest regulatory changes. Managers can also monitor compliance at every location. With this high degree of transparency, the entire organization can better understand and integrate sustainability initiatives into daily operations.
Advanced EH&S software technology cuts through complexity to strengthen and accelerate successful compliance. Forward-looking analysis tools help companies meet and exceed compliance and sustainability goals. Detailed reports clarify regulatory priorities for individual sites and pinpoint compliance gaps to minimize accidents. And enhanced tracking options make it easy to verify compliance throughout the organization.
The net result is enterprise-wide oversight and opportunities to drive proactive compliance responsibility to the point of control. Add flexible SaaS technology to the equation, and you have a solution that distributes timely and meaningful information with less effort and expense.
With advanced technology, it’s easy to be green and solidify your company’s reputation as a responsible leader in EH&S compliance.
About the Author
Reg Shiverick is president of Dakota Software, based in Cleveland, Ohio. He can be reached at (216) 896-0600.