January is the traditional time of year for businesses to make their "New Years'' resolutions."
According to Tony Domanico, environmental expert with The Payne Firm, businesses should take this time to get a handle on their environmental exposure.
"Too many companies ignore environmental exposure until something major happens," said Domanico. "By getting out in front of these issues, I''ve learned that companies can save themselves time, money and untold grief. And, since the beginning of the year is always used for planning, now is as good a time as any to get started."
The best resolution regarding environmental exposure is for the company to conduct a compliance audit, said Domanico.
Such an audit will provide a snapshot of the company''s current environmental exposure and allow the company to deal with problems that are uncovered before the become acute.
"It''s hard to underestimate the importance of gaining an understanding of your company''s environmental exposure," said Domanico. "Compliance audits do exactly that, and even identify potential cost savings."
Once the audit is complete, Domanico said the company will be able to prioritize any issues identified in it.
"Generally, the "big ticket" items -- those that represent the highest and most expensive exposure -- are dealt with first," noted Domanico. "And, most importantly, the company won''t get blindsided. You don''t want to find out your non-compliant when EPA is knocking at your door."
Compliance audits will also determine the company''s in-house ability to deal with environmental issues and planning.
"This is especially important if the company is looking to implement a full-blown environmental management system (EMS)," said Domanico.
An EMS, he explained, factors environmental issues -- regulations, compliance, exposure, worker safety and health, etc. -- into the fundamental planning and decision-making processes of a business.
This, in turn, allows company management to anticipate and plan for environmental issues by allocating resources, assigning responsibilities and evaluating internal practices, procedures and processes on an ongoing basis.
Domanico said by acting proactively in this manner, companies can dramatically reduce and in some cases even eliminate environmental exposure and the resulting cost.
"Companies need not be consistently behind the eight ball when it comes to addressing environmental issues and liabilities," said Domanico. "As the adage goes, ''a journey of 1,000 miles begins with a single step.'' This year, that step can and should be a compliance audit."
by Virginia Sutcliffe