Sustainability is not a new word in the corporate vocabulary, but there has been a steady rise in the prevalence of corporate sustainability initiatives and goals. A study by Honeywell and The Business Journals found that 80% of U.S. companies have sustainability initiatives in place. This is no surprise given the importance many consumers place on purchasing from brands that show a commitment to environmental sustainability.

Keeping in line with this focus, the EPA and OSHA continue to work to protect human health and the environment with attention on increasing temperatures and climate change. The EPA recently released its 2021 Climate Adaptation Plan, which outlines how it will address climate change impacts on communities. Along with this plan, the EPA also launched its Climate Adaptation website to serve as a repository for climate adaptation resources. On Sept. 20, OSHA announced an enhanced focus on heat and heat-related illnesses and the steps to address worker exposures. These steps include the creation of a federal workplace heat standard and the continuation of an enforcement initiative already in place.

In addition to sustainability, PFAS continues to be a hot topic with the recent announcement of President Biden’s plan to combat PFAS pollution and the EPA’s subsequent release of its final human health toxicity assessment for GenX chemicals, which are part of the PFAS group.

Other important regulation and compliance news to keep an eye on:

Ask an Expert: The business case for health and safety

Join BC’s Director of Health and Safety Programs Stephanie Caiati as she discusses the benefits of investing in health and safety from both personnel and financial points of view. Read “Ask an Expert”

Call for stricter regulations to prevent chemical accidents

In an effort to prevent future reactive chemical accidents, the Chemical Safety Board is calling on the EPA and OSHA to create stricter environmental and occupational safety regulations.

Hydrofluorocarbon (HFC) phasedown

EPA issued a final rule that will phase down production and consumption of HFCs in the United States by 85% over the next 15 years.

Harmful Algal Bloom Action Plan recommended
The EPA Office of Inspector General released a report illustrating the need for a strategic plan to reduce, mitigate, and control freshwater algal blooms, which would impact industries whose activities contribute to higher nutrient levels in drinking water sources.

Ask an Expert: The business case for health and safety

In this month’s feature, BC subject matter expert Stephanie Caiati talks about building a business case for investing in health and safety.

Question: I know that health and safety (H&S) is important at my facility, but I am having a hard time getting corporate funding support for H&S programs. While I understand that budgets are tight, I want to be able to show the benefits of investing in H&S from both personnel and financial points of view. What can I share with my corporate team to help them see the business case for H&S?

Answer: Stephanie CaiatiBuilding a business case for investing in H&S may seem like a difficult task when there is competition for budgets. However, in many workplaces, H&S dangers and risks are a part of everyday work and creating a comprehensive H&S program can have widespread benefits.

Employee safety and well-being is the most obvious benefit to having H&S policies and procedures in place. Creating an environment where your employees walk out the same way they walked in (accident free, no long-term issues, etc.) is priceless.

Retention and productivity
Feeling safe (or not) at work is one of the top reasons why employees stay at or leave a company. Working in an accident-free environmental boosts morale and helps reduce turnover. A reduction in employee turnover means less time and money spent training new hires. Additionally, a safe work environment fosters productivity and allows employees to stay focused and invested on their work.

Reducing costs
The National Safety Council estimates the total cost of work injuries in 2019 was $171 billion (including wage and productivity losses, medical and administrative expenses, and employers’ uninsured costs). Beyond the human cost, accidents and injuries cost real money that can be invested in employees or in the company. Additionally, a safe work environment with low injury and accident rates can reduce overall insurance (e.g., workers’ compensation, liability, property) premiums. H&S compliance also allows your company to avoid serious legal and financial losses ranging from lawsuits to regulatory fines.

Reputation protection
Your safety record can affect how the public, potential employees, your stakeholders/investors, and regulators perceive your facility or company. Having a good safety record and demonstrating that your company takes H&S seriously can go a long way to creating a positive image, which can have far-reaching effects from funding to inspection frequency and beyond.

About the experts

Meghan Krishnayya, Indianapolis, is the Compliance & Permitting Service Line Director for Brown and Caldwell, with expertise in environmental regulatory program strategy development and implementation.

Stephanie Caiati is Brown and Caldwell’s Director of Health and Safety Programs. Based in South Dakota, Stephanie has over 20 years of experience in policy definition, cultural change, and risk mitigation.

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