Organizations and their Environmental Health and Safety (EHS) managers consistently struggle to stay abreast of ever-changing EHS regulations. Common concerns amongst EHS professionals include:
- time constraints,
- securing a reliable source to provide relevant information and notifications of changes to legal requirement(s), and
- interpreting impacts of legislative or other changes
Many EHS professionals do not enjoy performing legislative updates due to the time required to properly undertake the task. It is ideal to perform legislative reviews on a monthly basis, but many organizations have changed it to quarterly or even annual review update, due in part to the fact that some months there are no updates to review. Some organizations conduct quarterly review-based objective and target system element reviews, while other organizations schedule reviews around a service subscription frequency or annual updates. However, it is important to consider that less frequent the reviews, require more time to complete the task. This statement is particularly true when secondary level legal documents are involved - namely technical standards or guidelines.
TIP: Monthly reviews are easier to digest than four larger quarterly reviews.
Additionally, while time if finite the sources used for legal updates, and how to interpret them, are infinite and often complicated.
Some firms choose to perform their own legal update research. This research can involve surfing government websites, google searches for a specific subject or legislation, and RSS feeds set up to capture keyword-based information from the internet. Such research requires EHS professionals to devote significant time in discovering amendments or new legal regulations from a wide variety of sources. Furthermore, if their process involves looking through every listed requirement in their Legal and Other Registry documents, it can easily take a whole day. If they choose to conduct the research annually, it will take at least a couple of days.
TIP: If using random google sources consider the source and verify the content.
Some businesses rely on consulting and legal firms via paid subscriptions, regular newsletters or email notifications. This time-saving option provides routine updates from credible sources - whether paid or for free. Such updates might even include an interpretation of the legal requirement(s). However, there are some problems with relying on these sources, as they typically focus on either safety or environment (few firms do both). In other cases, the source of reference will focus on legal changes slanted towards their core business aimed at generating future work, versus, covering all areas equally. Such resources may not include all provinces or territories in which your company operates. These updated services are generally delivered to the recipient monthly, or more often quarterly. Keep in mind that if you fail to get the email for any reason, you may miss an important legal change.
TIP: Remember lawyers typically specialize in legal outcomes whereas EHS consultants specialize in compliance outcomes.
Paid legal monitoring and reporting subscription services are the easiest, and most complete methods to identify legal updates. These subscription services allow for a wide range of directed or self-directed discoveries. Users can quickly sort through their inventories and look at historical changes or timelines easily. In most cases, there are higher tiers of service that provide some form of interpretation; the question being is it relevant to your business activities. These services can be accessed 24/7 and provide various email notifications settings depending on the selected service tier. All that recipients need to do is interpret how the identified changes affect their site. Of course, legal or external consultants can also address or validate the implications.
Tip: You don’t need the top end service tier in most cases, so save some money.
It does not take much time to identify a change within a legal requirement. However, it does take considerable time to sift through the impact of a legislated change on operational processes, documents, and training to ensure they too are identified and updated. Merely updating a legal registry is not the same thing as a legal review.
TIP: Don’t forget to include CSA and other technical standards in your legal document registry and updates.
EKG recommends a subscription-based service that provides monthly updates via email and provides 24/7 access with sorting capabilities. Such a service will save time and will ensure that EHS professionals are aware of all relevant legal requirements. The best services will allow users to select a subscription appropriate to both their needs and budgets. This type of service provides the flexibility needed to allow users to choose their degree of involvement concerning interpreting changes.
Remember that external EHS consultants are available to assist with clarifying any legal changes under review.
TIP: A good consulting partner should not charge you for a brief discussion on interpreting a legislative change, at least EKG does not charge for this.
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