EMS – Building a Culture of Compliance

Culture of Compliance

A culture of compliance is an essential component to a strong environmental management system (EMS).  There are several key elements which will work to foster a culture of environmental compliance throughout the organization.

  • Define roles and responsibilities – Everyone on the site must understand how their job relates to the environment.  They need to understand how what they do can affect and impact the site as a whole.
  • Know the permits – Everyone should know which permits apply to their roles and activities.  Supervisors should review key permit limits and requirements frequently to ensure important points are retained.
  • Empower your employees – Empower employees to come up with solutions to stay in compliance with the permit limits and requirements.  Employees performing the tasks will often times come up with the simplest and most effective solutions.
  • Visible leadership – Take the time to get out and observe employees performing their work.  Provide feedback and let them know when you seeing them doing something with a positive environmental aspect or outcome.  If something needs to be done differently, take the time to explain and discuss the potential outcomes and consequences.
  •  Hold people accountable – Accountability is one of the essential elements to creating a culture of compliance.  Employees must not only understand their roles and responsibilities; they must understand what the consequences of their actions will be, whether it is positive or negative.
  • Track and trend issues – Ensure that every point of non-compliance or potential non-compliance is investigated to determine the root cause.  A “five-why” is a simple exercise that can help determine the root cause.  Ask why it happened, then using that answer, ask why that happened.  Asking that question repeatedly will force you back to the causal factors which can then be addressed.

Creating a culture of environmental compliance is an essential step to creating an effective EMS.  Following these steps will result in a more engaged workforce, and with less compliance issues.  Do you have any other elements you have found to be essential to building a culture of compliance?

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