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ERA's Environmental Compliance Management Blog

Environmental Compliance at Work: Is Your EH&S Department an Island?

Posted by Alex Chamberlain

Alex Chamberlain is a writer for ERA Environmental Management Solutions.

Is your environmental compliance management  alone Environmental compliance management can seem like the odd one out when it comes to your everyday business operations. It doesn’t deal with the same type of data as any other type of department, doesn’t generate revenue in the same way, and requires a different type of expertise.

As a result, many business structures treat the EH&S department as a completely separate entity. In fact, some even think of the EH&S department as some sort of concession to the government and grow to undervalue the importance of compliance management.

The typical business owner understands that everything in the corporate structure is deeply connected: marketing has an impact on revenue, which is managed by the finance department, which helps budget for human resources, which provides staff to the shop floor, which makes the products that get sold and make the money. One cannot exist without the other, and the more successful one department is, the stronger the rest of the business gets as a whole.

So where does environmental management fit into that equation? Why do so many businesses treat EH&S compliance like an island instead of an essential cog in the profitability machine?

In reality, environmental compliance management is deeply interconnected to every other part of your business. And although it appears the type of data management going on in the EH&S department is completely different than other business metrics, environmental data may be the bridge that brings everything together.

If you think of your environmental management as an island, it’s time to stop. Here’s why:

Environmental Management Fuels Great Marketing

Green marketing is leading the way when it comes to effective and persuasive selling. Almost every internationally successful business has already integrated green messaging into its marketing campaigns.

But without real environmental data, you can’t tap into the power of green marketing. All you’ll be doing is greenwashing, which is a sure-fire way to fall flat on your face and lose customers. That’s why putting your environmental experts in communication with your marketing team is one of the best marketing boosters possible.

All your recycling efforts, sustainability planning, reduction in air emissions, and excellent compliance record all make great material for the marketing team, and the number one experts on those types of efforts are your environmental professionals.

Environmental Management Impacts Shop Floor Operations

It should come as no surprise, but environmental compliance only functions when your manufacturing operations and environmental data management professionals work together.

Measuring your air emissions and other environmental outputs not only keeps you in compliance, but also dictates the type of materials you can use. If you’re nearing your emission limits, it could mean a halt or slowdown in production for that month.

However, it’s important that your EH&S department also works with floor managers and educators, and doesn’t just interact with the shop floor operations to take measurements and track data. Environmental professionals should also be included in the development of training programs, since there’s a proven link between how well a shop-floor employee is trained and the amount of undesirable emissions that get released.

Having active involvement between shop-floor employees and environmental managers is also an essential step in getting certified under ISO 14001 and in fostering employee engagement with sustainability planning.

Environmental Management Helps You Make Green

No financial department can be 100% confident they are managing company finances responsibly without some input from the EH&S department.

Usually, business owners think of environmental compliance in terms of finance in one of two ways: either environmental management is related to preventing fines or it’s an expense – a department that costs money to install control equipment and pay managers without contributing. What these black and white views are missing is the real and positive impact that EH&S can have on increasing profits.

Environmental management professionals are the best suited to identifying weak links in your manufacturing processes: for example, one environmental manager was examining his facility’s water usage records and discovered a leaking internal pipe that was costing the company thousands. Just by reviewing the facility's environmental outputs, he saved them serious money. You can read the whole story here.

Great environmental management doesn’t just track emission data, it also can be used to assess incoming products and find cost effective alternatives. The process of environmentally preferable purchasing (EPP) has been used to reduce manufacturing costs at the same time as preventing noncompliance fines.

Financial sustainability can only be achieved through true environmental sustainability. One of the best ways to accomplish this is through the implementation of renewable energy sources, which is the realm of your environmental specialists.

In fact, through the use of solar energy and other sustainability initiatives, NASCAR has reduced its environmental footprint while increasing profitability – projects led by an environmental professional in conjunction with other departments. 

Whenever you see an industry leader sharing stories about its environmental and financial performance, you can be sure there's a EH&S team working closely with every other department.

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Alex at ERA Environmental

About the Author: Alex Chamberlain is a writer and blogger who regularly contributes to ERA Environmental Management Solutions' blog. You can find Alex on Google+LinkedIn & ERA's Environmental Compliance Blog


Image credit: Bryson-Lewis Family

Topics: Sustainability, Environmental Compliance & Data Management, Emissions Management