The price of complying with environmental health and safety (EHS) regulations can be high for some businesses, but it’s nothing compared to the potential price of non-compliance. Ignoring EHS requirements is not an option for any company that takes its long-term viability and public reputation seriously. The small savings gained by ignoring the details of compliance are quickly and completely overtaken by exposure to massive liability.
EHS compliance is not a voluntary program motivated by incentives, it is a legal requirement enforced through civil and criminal penalties. All businesses, ranging from industrial manufacturers to small retailers, are responsible for ensuring their compliance with these regulations at all times. Following EHS rules is a matter of survival for many companies, which is why ATC Group Services helps our clients through each stage of the compliance process.
The Dangers of Noncompliance
Businesses that neglect EHS requirements face a wide range of hidden costs, including:
- Fines and civil lawsuits
- Criminal charges
- Loss of reputation
- Damaged employee relations
- Closure of property
Businesses that don’t comply with EHS regulations can suffer serious legal and financial consequences. Punitive fines for a single non-compliance enforcement action can easily reach $100,000, with serious or multiple violations raising the cost even higher. Operating a non-compliant commercial site is illegal, which can seriously cripple a court defense against lawsuits filed by individuals or government agencies. Fines alone can decimate a company’s finances and a broader civil suits exposes them to a risk of massive losses.
Risk of Criminal Charges
Organizations can be found guilty of criminal acts, much like individual people. This primarily has financial implications, because it gives enforcement officials the legal latitude to levy the company’s assets and other resources. This means the punitive and legal costs of a criminal charge can be exponentially higher than a civil fine. In some cases, employees or leaders of a business can also be charged with criminal behavior depending on the nature and consequences of the noncompliance concern.
Tarnished Public Image and Reputation
Marketing and public relations investments can be difficult to quantify, but there’s little doubt that consumer impressions are essential for many companies. Businesses with a history of EHS compliance violations often suffer the effects of negative press coverage, which works against all of their public outreach and brand messages. This information may deter customers on principle or at least damage the company’s professional reputation.
Loss of Employee Confidence
The two main purposes of EHS regulations are to preserve the environment as well as the health and safety of its occupants. Companies that violate these regulations often expose their own workers to unnecessary risks, which has profound consequences throughout the organization. On top of the financial expenses of insurance claims, this type of leadership creates a toxic workplace culture that drains morale and cuts retention rates. Valuable employees are likely to seek alternative employment where they aren’t exposed to serious health risks.
Closure of Premises
Serious or repeat EHS violations can prompt state or federal enforcement agencies to issue closure on commercial properties. This effectively suspends all business operations on site until further notice, which can have devastating consequences on profitability and investor relations. Closures typically last until the company addresses its environmental violations and related legal or financial obligations. Companies who already face property closure can contact ATC to learn more about our site remediation and industrial hygiene solutions.
What EHS Regulations Apply?
The first step toward achieving compliance is knowing exactly what rules apply to a given business depending on its size, industry, property location and jurisdiction. A large portion of applicable regulations are federal ones, which are primarily created and enforced by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). State laws are usually similar to federal ones, but businesses still need to carefully research local EHS regulations to ensure complete compliance. ATC helps clients identify all applicable environmental regulations as part of our compliance and consulting services.
The Value of Investing in Compliance
Business leaders should view compliance as a necessity just like their products, buildings or equipment. Adapting the workplace and operational procedures to meet EHS requirements can come with initial cost, but it doesn’t have to be a financial black hole. ATC’s environmental consulting services include the development of an optimized and cost-effective compliance road-map that is tailored to each client’s resources and goals.