According to regulations.gov, Federal agencies issue nearly 8,000 new or amended regulations per year. Each regulation may be specific to an industry, intent of operations, and/or site variables. To add to the complexity, industrial companies are often tasked with complying with multiple regulations from numerous agencies, creating a perpetual state of unrest for emergency management directors and professionals.
For example, one Louisiana industrial facility must comply with as many as 700 individual requirements while evaluating, addressing, and implementing additional impending regulations. To aid with the specifics of planning compliance, response plans should be easily adaptable to reflect relevant regulatory circumstances.
Regulatory changes result in necessary steadfast planning teamwork and typically, many dedicated administrative hours of time-consuming response plan updates. Advanced technology can streamline the process of maintaining compliant response plans, minimizing the burden on emergency management programs and associated budgets.
If government regulations are applicable to operations, companies must prioritize compliance and associated management techniques in order to minimize financial burdens resulting from fines, negative public perceptions, and potential government mandated shutdown of operations.
Simplifying the regulatory review and update process ensures a consistent path toward compliance. Assimilating the following concepts into preparedness programs can simplify the implementation of stringent regulatory standards:
- Use of Database Technology - On the corporate level, utilizing database technology in response plans allows for a hyperlinked association of each regulatory requirement to applicable facilities. Identifying which facilities’ response plans are associated with specific evolving regulatory information can be effectively managed with the use of a database. This cross-reference capability can be further applied at the facility level by linking site-specific information to corresponding regulatory standard(s).
- Expand Search Functionality with Technology- Advanced technology creates the ability to search a response plan database for key words and phrases associated with regulations. Gathering specific information will simplify the regulatory update process. Extended search functionality is associated with database technology, and not available in paper plans or multiple separate Microsoft Word documents.
- Operational category: Categories can range from air quality and hazardous materials, to construction safety and general safety and health. Depending on the detail required by the regulations, further breakouts by subcategories may also be required.
- Applicable Regulation Level: Regulations should be further broken down to Federal, state or local regulation categories.
- Industry Standard: Industry standards or best practices that apply to the specific regulatory requirement
- Available Expertise - Identify corporate resources or external compliance expertise, and leverage that knowledge enterprise-wide.
- Identify Facility-Specific Regulations - Highlight mandatory submission requirements and tasks for each facility associated with each regulatory requirement. By imbedding a timestamp on response plans, compliance and emergency managers can identify the date that each regulation was last updated.
- Tasking - Assign compliance tasks, frequencies, due dates, persons responsible, and document of outstanding and completion actions related to compliance standards. Those responsible for each compliance task should provide feedback if additional actions or mitigation measures are necessary.
- Identify Best Practices - Apply best practices related to compliance with specific regulatory requirements, when practical to do so. Best practices are often incorporated into required elements.
- Organize Compliance Information by subject - Eliminating redundancies across converging compliance requirements is extremely beneficial for organizations that have multiple regulatory requirements related to the same subject matter. A response plan database can limit duplication of tasks and planning responsibilities, minimizing dedicated administrative hours.
Implementing an enterprise-wide emergency response planning system can ease the challenges associated with plan updates. In addition to the benefits associated with compliance, planning systems can:
- Support the ability to execute company approved response strategies
- Easily incorporate company growth and facility acquisitions
- Enable site specific details while not compromising company directives
- Be easily updated with minimal dedicated staff
- Become a shared tool for internal and external responders
- Allow for streamlined regulatory compliance audits
For a free Audit Preparedness Guide for Industrial Regulatory Compliance, click the image below: