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Government regulations can be a pain. They can be cumbersome for manufacturers, which can be an excuse for not giving them the attention they require.
Take the standards and regulations aimed at protecting employees and the environment, for example. It takes time and expertise to ensure compliance. Some manufacturers can afford to have a full-time EHS specialist on the payroll, but for many employers this is not an option. Companies often then rely on human resources or facilities personnel to keep their name out of the headlines.
Don’t think you are saving money by not addressing EHS needs.
This route may work for a little while, however these folks have other job responsibilities and there is the lingering danger it all will come back to bite you. I have worked with numerous small and medium-sized companies who, in an effort to save a dime, have had to address mishaps or complaints that ended up costing more money than if things would have been done correctly in the first place.
Recently, one client was the recipient of an OSHA inspection. Their new plant start-up relied on an experienced facilities/maintenance manager to get the safety program in place, and he did a pretty good job. However, program progress languished and a complaint brought on a visit from the State. The good news was that there have not been any injuries and the penalties were minimal. However, some items really did require immediate EHS attention.
Another client has been without an on-staff EHS professional for about six years. The company’s EHS issues fell under their facility engineer’s list of responsibilities. However, over the years, bad habits crept in, impacting the safety of personnel as they handled chemicals. Internal complaints facilitated a recognition that the EHS position needed to be filled.
It goes to show that even with the best intentions, without constant attention, EHS issues can lead to a downward spiral.
The bottom line is this: don’t think you are saving money by not addressing EHS needs. Things happen, people have accidents, things get spilled. Give it attention now before it becomes an expensive problem. If the company budget does not allow for an on-staff EHS professional, find a consultant with the right experience and who is sensitive to your business goals. Really, they’re out there.