UK businesses facing EHS legal compliance crisis?
With Britain’s exit from the European Union (EU) on the horizon, the issue of legal compliance has never been more bewildering, yet it remains crucial to the success of the nation’s businesses.
The United Kingdom’s (UK) established legislative landscape has long been built on a foundation of EU policy and regulation, forming the structure from which businesses must operate.
This means that ensuring legal compliance is a major concern for every business, with serious penalties in place for breaches and, in some cases, the potential for regulator-imposed shut down.
The current, often extremely complex, environmental, health and safety (EHS) legislative landscapes are largely governed by the EU. The British Government will automatically retain these upon leaving, transferring them to the national statute book, at which point UK legislation can then divert from the EU, representing significant uncertainty for EHS regulation in the future.
We spoke to Guy Jeremiah, Waterman’s Technical Director for Greenspace, to get his views on how best to manage EHS legal responsibilities in this volatile political climate.
Guy says; “The key to continued legal compliance after BREXIT is identifying the relevant legislation at the earliest possible stage, creating a structured plan to deal with changes as they occur, including continued monitoring throughout the process.”
He explains how to manage this; “We’ve set up a consultant-supported legal register platform called Greenspace. It allows us to select, document and keep up-to-date a client’s EHS duties, also providing tools to audit against applicable requirements and retain evidence to show they are compliant.”
“This means that, no matter how much legislation changes, Greenspace and our teams across the country, will help clients throughout to successfully stay on top of their legal responsibilities.”
Established in 2004, the Legal Register is the flagship application and forms a part of an ISO 14001 (Environment) or ISO 45001 (H&S) certified management system. It became a powerful tool to inform staff of their legal obligations, while illustrating compliance to stakeholders.
Following continuous success and growth, the team went on to launch the additional functions including Environmental Aspects Register, a Health and Safety Risk Register and a ‘Portfolio Manager’ function to facilitate multi-site operations. This is now widely utilised by larger clients such as Hammerson, NHS Scotland, the British Police Force and several Universities.
“Greenspace has continued to evolve over time and is now about much more than legal compliance”, Guy says, “with this dynamic management system, our clients have become truly sustainable enterprises that minimise risk and maximise opportunities to remain competitive and ethical.”
Whilst the system is primarily UK-based, the team has worked with major international organisations such as Tata, Accenture, Boots, GKN, Shell to manage legal registers across Spain, Australia, South Africa, Singapore and the Czech Republic.
Looking to the future, the team plan to increase the capabilities of the platform and reach a wider audience; “We will be launching the ‘Greenspace Improvement Tracker’ later this year which will allow our clients to plan and track their goals and obligations. This could be extremely important managing change in the post-Brexit transition.”
Read the latest edition of our Waterman Times here.