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EHS Legal Compliance – Managing Business Risk

13th November 2023 - Written by Jill Cottrell

As part of World Quality Week 2023 (6th – 10th Nov) Jill Cottrell, our Environmental Compliance Manager discusses key steps to help businesses be aware of, and comply with current and upcoming applicable legislation helping to control business risk.

Compliance is all about controlling risks and continually improving, something that sits beautifully with the principles of Quality. If a business considers Quality when tackling their compliance requirements, they can realise their competitive potential through continual improvement and improved efficiencies. So how would I recommend a business tackles compliance:

1. Understand your Businesses Compliance Requirements

Identify what legislation is applicable to your business. Do not presume that this only applies to businesses that are in heavy industry, i.e., manufacturing. Even businesses that are office based will have legal compliance requirements (Waste Duty of Care, F Gas Regulations, Streamlined Energy and Carbon Reporting, etc.) Not knowing that you had requirements because you never checked is not an excuse.

2. Identify whether you are Compliant

Undertake a compliance audit. This can be completed internally if you have someone competent to do so. Otherwise, you could engage a third party to complete this on your behalf. Make sure any third-party contractors understand your business so that they capture your business’ compliance requirements appropriately.

3. Raise and close out Identified Actions

Any compliance findings should be raised within the business at all levels. If you want your business to continually improve then you need buy-in from all levels, from the shop floor to the boardroom. This may include preparing, updating, and communicating a Corrective and Preventive Action (CAPA) Register which can be populated with findings from any audits. Ensure that responsibility for these findings is managed by appropriate personnel so that they are progressed and closed out within a timely manner.

4. Evidence Compliance

Retain documentation for all compliance requirements such as servicing and maintenance records of equipment, and appropriate transfer documentation for waste. Also check that sub-contractors are competent to undertake the work you are asking them to do by checking training records, memberships and licenses.

Businesses should also be able to evidence why legislation is not applicable to their business i.e., undertake a review of chemical storage on site against Schedule 1 of the Control of Major Accident Hazards Regulations to show that your site is below the thresholds. This review should then be retained and updated when the regulations are amended or when significant business changes have occurred.

5. Track any Changes

Business compliance with legislation can change all the time as regulations are updated or compliance dates associated with regulations may come into force. A business needs to be able to control the business risks associated with changes and it is therefore recommended that a business undertakes frequent review of legislation i.e., quarterly with any changes being updated in the sites legal register and communicated to appropriate personnel throughout the business.

Following the key steps as identified above will help your business be aware of and comply with, current and upcoming applicable legislation, and will also help control business risk, a core Quality principle.

Jill Cottrell

I'm an Environmental Compliance Consultant with a particular focus on environmental compliance, contaminated land and PPC permitting support.