Recent criminal prosecutions, increasing regulatory compliance, decreasing staffs and endless opportunities for noncompliance were reasons given for implementing environmental information management systems (EMS).
At the Air & Waste Management Conference and Exhibition in Salt Lake City, Utah, William F. Van Order Jr., P.E., with Environmental Resources Management, Baton Rouge, La., gave attendees advice on how to implement an effective EMS system at their workplaces.
"Environmental compliance requires perfection," said Van Order. "Therefore, an EMS system fully integrated with your existing information management software can help you maintain compliance."
Van Order pointed to the fact that an electronic system vs. a paper system can be more efficient because of the vast amounts of paper associated with recordkeeping.
When choosing an EMS software program, he noted that there is "no silver bullet." "Nothing you buy is going to allow you to work three days instead of six," said Van Order. "However, it will help you maintain a high level of awareness, knowledge and effectiveness."
The most important thing to remember when choosing an EMS software program is usability. The software should be friendly to the casual user. "End users will make or break implementation," noted Van Order.
Because every situation is different, he suggested taking steps to determine what type of software may work best for your plant:
- Get some consensus among management, those in your department and the employee users.
- Identify what type of data you have and what you would want to track electronically.
- Analyze current software systems, such as Lotus Notes, to determine if they could be integrated with your EMS.
- Choose the software or system would be best for your plant.
- Train your employees.
Van Order said no matter what type of EMS software you choose, it is important to train employees in its use.
"I can''t stress training enough," said Van Order. "EMS is not just the documentation of the compliance process, it is the compliance process."
by Virginia Sutcliffe