Keeping your site or facility in environmental compliance is imperative for your business, as well as the health and safety of your staff, the community and the environment. As any site manager knows, environmental inspections from regulatory bodies are a regular and inevitable occurrence that can lead to costly violations if you’re caught unprepared and unorganized.
To help, we’ll outline several ways to optimize your own environmental inspections to make sure that you’re always in compliance and confident enough to welcome any unannounced inspector into your facility with a smile.
What is an Environmental Inspection?
An environmental inspection of an organization may be conducted for any of the following purposes in order to maintain air quality, water quality and the health of those in or near a site:
- To check compliance with environmental regulations
- To check compliance with an environmental permit, such as an NPDES or hazardous waste permit
- To investigate a complaint of environmental conditions
- To investigate a perceived non-compliance of environmental regulations
Depending on the industry and location of permitted facilities, environmental inspections can be conducted by city, state or federal agencies, as well as third-party environmental groups at varying frequencies and scopes.
Conducting Your Own Environmental Inspections
It’s important (and often a requirement) to conduct your own environmental inspections in addition to the scheduled and surprise inspections from regulatory agencies. Regular inspections will help you spot issues before they cause major harm or result in a violation.
, a company that provides training for environmental compliance, recommends that organizations conduct all inspections for their permits and plans at the same time, and with at least two sets of eyes to spot problem areas.
Be sure to document all of your inspections while keeping organized records of data that demonstrate your compliance and efforts. Educating your whole team about any permits, plans, approvals and responsibilities will also help things run smoothly when inspectors stop by.
Optimizing Your Environmental Inspections
The best way to optimize environmental inspections of your facility is to digitize and automate the process. This will increase the speed of your inspections, allowing you to conduct them more frequently. It will also help you monitor data more efficiently and keep required paperwork organized in one place for easy access.
- Use digital environmental inspection forms
Digital inspection forms offer a number of benefits:
1. They can be easily customized and updated according to your needs & changing regulations
2. They can be instantly dispatched and submitted
3. They can be completed in the field on mobile devices
4. They are more legible than handwritten documents
- Capture evidence with multimedia
Digital forms also allow you to capture photo and video evidence that can be embedded directly into the form. These visuals can come with automatic time and location stamps for further validation, as well.
For example, you could have your inspectors take a photo of chemical waste to make sure it’s properly stored and labeled. They could add captions, notes and even annotations for further clarity if there are any issues.
- Automate your workflow
To streamline the reporting of environmental inspections, use software that can automate your inspection forms workflow. Pre-set the delivery method and endpoint(s) of inspection forms for specific environmental permits so that reports fall into the right hands. This way no issues will fall through the cracks and lead to surprise violations.
- Receive alerts for low compliance scores
In addition to automated workflows, set up alerts and notifications for issues that matter to you. Use software that lets you program alerts for reports of non-compliance or for inspection scores that don’t meet your standards.
For example, if black smoke was observed and reported at a plant, the appropriate people would be automatically notified on their device of choice and could take immediate action to correct the issue before any serious harm or complaints occur.
- View & act on data insights
To ensure and prove that your operations are effective over time in terms of environmental compliance, it’s necessary to view and act on data.
To optimize this, have the data from your digital inspection reports automatically transformed into meaningful trends and insights that you can view at a glance on a dashboard. This can help you know what areas to focus on and communicate with your team.
- Keep all reports & records in one database
A digital platform that can automatically store your environmental inspection reports in one secure database is invaluable when it comes to documenting and demonstrating compliance. This way you can easily search or filter forms for quick access.
FastField is a digital forms and workflow solution that allows you to collect, report and store the data you need for environmental compliance. Try FastField for free to streamline your environmental inspections today.
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