Often, when I’m out serving Affygility Solutions’ clients I get asked about the definition of compliance and questioned about its importance. For individuals that don’t have significant amount of regulatory compliance experience, this is often a difficult question. Depending upon the person in which you’re having the conversation, the compliance definition can mean different things, but for most environmental, health and safety professionals, the compliance definition means “the act of being in accordance with established standards, guidelines, or legislation.”
Meeting the Compliance Definition or Meeting Regulatory Intent
While being “in compliance” with these standards, guidelines, and legislation is very important, being in line with the regulatory intent of the law is even more important. As a compliance inspector from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration once said to me, “OSHA standards are just the threshold of what it takes to have an effective occupational safety and health program.” Effective occupational safety and health programs require a systems management approach, similar to what is presented in the Voluntary Protection Program (VPP) or ISO 18001. In these management systems, first and foremost is management commitment and involvement. If you don’t have management commitment it is going to be extremely difficult to make much progress in improving your company’s safety and health performance. Once management commitment has been obtained, that needs to be followed up with worksite analysis, control procedures, written procedures, employee involvement, systems for reporting of hazards, corrective action systems, education and training, and many additional elements.
Compliance Management Systems are Necessary
As complex as regulations can be, even for the smallest of companies, a compliance management system can help. Compliance management systems add structure to a program, can greatly ease the paperwork burden, and improve occupational safety and health performance. So, don’t just meet the compliance definition, implement environmental, health and safety management systems instead.
For additional information on compliance management systems, please contact the environmental, health and safety professionals at Affygility Solutions.