Seven Steps to Prepare for an Environmental Inspection

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(Credit: BLR)

by | Jun 11, 2024

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How EHS Management Tools Can Help You Navigate the Pre-inspection Steps

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) reported that in 2022, enforcement actions required companies to invest $4.3 billion in actions and equipment to control pollution and clean up contaminated sites. Environment, health, and safety (EHS) management solutions, like BLR’s EHS Hero®, can help you prepare for an environmental inspection of your facility so you can avoid being on the receiving end of an enforcement action.

There are seven essential steps you should take to prepare for an environmental inspection, and EHS Hero’s tools can help you accomplish each one with ease.

1. Understand applicable regulations

It’s important to identify which regulations are applicable to your organization depending on your industry, location, and operations. Familiarize yourself with reporting obligations and standards set by the EPA, and stay up to date on any changes to environmental laws and requirements to ensure ongoing compliance. If necessary, consult regulatory authorities and legal experts to make sure you’re aware of your jurisdiction’s requirements.

How EHS Hero can help:

  • The Regulatory Analysis Chart Builder can help you make informed policy decisions by providing brief analyses of federal and state regulations. Our comprehensive list of topics is constantly being updated to ensure the information is current.
  • The Environmental Compliance Calendar provides you with federal and state reporting deadlines so you can avoid costly fines and penalties caused by late or missed submissions.

2. Review compliance history

A thorough review of your compliance history can help identify past noncompliance issues, violations, or weaknesses in your environmental management practices. Before your inspection, conduct an internal review of any past inspection reports, violations, and corrective actions. If any outstanding issues are discovered, take steps to address them, and thoroughly document the corrective actions taken.

How EHS Hero can help:

  • With the Insights tool’s aggregated reporting dashboard, you can track progress over time toward completion of all necessary internal audits, equipment inspections, and corrective actions so you can ensure noncompliance issues are addressed before your inspection date.

3. Develop an inspection preparedness plan

Developing an inspection preparedness plan will make sure key responsibilities are outlined and adequate resources are available ahead of an inspection. Your plan should designate responsible personnel to oversee the inspection process and establish a clear timeline for completing pre-inspection tasks. Make sure you allocate sufficient time to complete a visual inspection of the facility, address potential problem areas, and conduct interviews with selected facility personnel.

How EHS Hero can help:

  • With Plan Builder, you can easily build, customize, and manage environmental plans. Additionally, you can access expert-made resources like checklists, guidance documents, and regulatory analysis to ensure your plans are thorough and up to date with current environmental regulations.

4. Maintain accurate records

Because documentation will likely be reviewed during an inspection, it’s essential to have up-to-date, easily accessible records. Ahead of your inspection date, make sure to organize and update all pertinent records. Storing these documents in an EHS management system is a good way to ensure your data is centralized, searchable, and readily available.

How EHS Hero can help:

  • The Permit Tool’s custom form-builder allows you to easily upload or create permits and compliance documents so you can ensure all employees are qualified for hot work, confined spaces, and other hazardous conditions.
  • Keep all important documentation organized in a centralized library in the Document Center. The tool also tracks revision history and pushes updates out sitewide so you can make sure all your employees have access to the most current versions of all documentation.

5. Familiarize yourself with your facility

Before your inspection date arrives, make sure you’re familiar with your facility’s operations and history. Study your company’s environmental management history, identify all the wastestreams, familiarize yourself with all equipment, and make sure you’re aware of all chemicals and raw materials used. Lastly, ensure you know your facility’s history and the prior uses of the site.

How EHS Hero can help:

  • With the Asset Management tool, you can keep a thorough inventory of all your rolling stock, fixed stock, and other company-specific equipment.
  • The HazCom/SDS Management tool stores all your safety data sheets (SDSs) in one location where they’re easy to update and access so you can ensure visibility into chemical hazards for all employees.

6. Train employees

Fostering a culture of compliance in your organization is essential for ensuring ongoing adherence to regulations. Provide training to employees regarding environmental regulations, compliance requirements, and their roles in supporting the organization’s environmental objectives. In addition, conduct regular training sessions to reinforce best practices. You should also encourage employees to report environmental incidents or potential compliance issues promptly so they can be adequately addressed.

How EHS Hero can help:

  • EHS Hero’s expert-made training materials provide you with everything you need to deliver effective training, including PowerPoints, videos, and quizzes. Our expansive training materials let you tailor your training program to your unique needs.

7. Perform self-audits

Perhaps the most important step in preparing for an environmental inspection is performing self-audits to identify and correct potential compliance gaps and areas for improvement ahead of the actual inspection date. Periodically review environmental management records and files to determine if they’re all current or still in effect. If you identify any compliance issues in your audit, address them promptly, and thoroughly document any corrective actions taken.

How EHS Hero can help:

  • Seamlessly create, score, and customize audits with the Audits and Inspections tool. This intuitive tool also integrates with the CAPA tool to allow for the automatic creation of corrective action tasks.

Simplify Your EHS Management

By leveraging these seven steps and the power of EHS management tools, you can significantly improve your organization’s environmental compliance efforts, streamline inspection preparation, and foster a culture of environmental responsibility. Learn more about how BLR® can help you deliver consistent training, achieve compliance, and maximize efficiencies in employee workflows here.

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