How to prove that we conform to legal requirements

J

justincheu

#1
Can anyone suggest some ways to show the conformity with legal requirement?
During my last audit(the first experience), auditor requested a minor NC on nothing can show that we verified the conformity. In fact, we set up an environmental law database to collect all applicable legal and regulatory requirements.
The auditor suggested to list every applicable clause/sentence on a paper, is there a better way?
 
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M

mike101338

#2
We did two things. First, since neither myslef nor anyone else with my company is an expert to environmental law, I contracted with a local company to come in and perform an environmental complaince audit. He identified all applicable legal requirements, then made certain we were in compliance. It cost us about $1500.

Second, once we knew what legal requirements were applicable I documented them in relation to the aspects. I did not go as far as documenting every "applicable sentence", but did list the clause numbers, the aspect to which it relates and the method of controls we are using to remain compliant.
 
D

Dean P.

#3
Conformance with legal requirements can be done in different ways, but in each case you need documentation / evidence to show compliance. For example, once you have identified your legal requirements (as Mike indicated), you may want to do a regular inspection of your facility to ensure things are still in compliance with respect to spill control, emission controls (depending on your business), waste disposal. You should also have records of air emissions (SARA 313?), waste disposal (manifests), etc. that would show compliance with those portions of the law.

Finally, you should check back with the legislation on a regular basis to ensure nothing has changed, and document this check. For example, I do a monthly environmental inspection at our facility. First is a check of documentation, including manifests, ventilation system PM checks, and also a review of our legislation to ensure nothing has changed. Then I conduct a physical tour of our facility, looking for potential issues that I can correct before they happen (potential spills and releases, etc.). It is all documented on one form.

Dean
 

Randy

Super Moderator
#4
This is why 4.5.2.1 is part of the standard. You are supposed to perform or have performed on your behalf an evaluation of your environmental compliance efforts. The big catch here is that I (or hopefully any other auditor) will seek verification of the competence of the person(s) performing the evaluation...and the reading environmental magazines and attending an 8 hour course to become competent may not cut it.

Environmental compliance is not something that a novice or the unknowing needs to be screwing with.

You better make sure of the competence of 3rd party assistance you get like consultants and engineer's.
 

Jim Wynne

Staff member
Admin
#5
Randy said:
You better make sure of the competence of 3rd party assistance you get like consultants and engineer's.
Are there any official standards for what constitutes competence in this regard?
 
M

mike101338

#6
Randy, what training or credentials would you consider to be acceptable for an environmental consultant? Does your answer change based on the complexity of the operations the business is performing or their list of significant aspects?

Second, how often should this evaluation be performed?
 

Spanner

Starting to get Involved
#7
Once you have decided what legal requirements are applicable - you may need specialist help to ensure you don't miss any out or misinterpret any - You could add a few fields to your database to show against each requirement: how the requirement applies to you, how to check you comply, result of the last check, who checked it and when. You could then run reports by date to ensure you check all requirements at least once per year or what ever period is suitable.

Example:
legal Req: Noise at work regulations 1989
How it affects you: Noise within the working environment must not exceed 85dB
How to check: Noise survey to be carried out using calibrated meter.
Result of check: Noise surveys carried out no readings above 85dB recorded. Refer to hard copy held in Facilities Dept.
Carried out by: A N Other
When: 16/06/05
 

Randy

Super Moderator
#8
That's really kinda "iffy".

I recently did an audit where the "competent" person had a master's in Env Science, 6-8 years of env experience in "complaince" and actually wrote they could not say for sure that their organization was in complinace in an annual evaluation report. I found that they had not filed Form "R's" for 3 years and EPCRA reports were 2 years behind. They were in an industry that has a couple of highly regulated materials and some emissions have a specific EPA focus program attached to them. The big DUH hit me, and to say that this became a "Major" issue would be an under-statement.

Competence is a hard thing to determine and actually prove with a subject like environmental compliance because of its far ranging aspects (no pun intended here). I have about 15 years of compliance in air, water, waste, etc, and I learned most of what I know working in California, but I am weak in many areas where I don't have a good amount of hands on experience. I am considered by many to be "competent" whereas I consider myself marginally dangerous at best.

I think competence winds up being "you know it when you see it", kinda like pornography.
 
J

justincheu

#9
Quite help, buddies

Some law reads are easy to find such as "noise", because they are quantitive, not qualitative.
My boss definitely will not pay that much money to contract with a consultant. So I'm so pain on the qualitative requirements and afraid can not find all applicable ones.
 
M

mike101338

#10
Finding everything is a huge task. I dont know what the laws are like in China. In the US, if you are in violation of an EPA reg, the fines will be much more than the cost of the consultant. That was the first part of how I convinced my boss to spend the money.

Second, the standard says, " the organization shall identify and have access to the applicable legal requirements... determine how those requirements apply to its environmental aspects... ensure that these applicable legal requriements are taken into account in establishing, implementing and maintaining its environmental management system."

Unless you or someone else in your company has the skills to identify the legal requirements, you must have someone from the outside perform this for you.

Although I understand tight budgets and trying not to spend unnecessary money, this is as close to a requirement as they come. I think your boss/company needs to show they are committed to the process and spend the money.
 
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