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Safety Management Insights

Top Compliance Solutions and the Benefits of Each

Posted by Doug Shoemaker on Oct 19, 2020 1:08:42 PM

Whether you are talking OSHA, MSHA, FSMA or any other regulation, compliance can be a tricky subject. The reality of maintaining compliance is that there is no magic bullet to guarantee it will be maintained without your company putting in some effort. With that said there are a lot of tools that are readily available to make it easier, more cost effective, and faster than it would be otherwise. This article covers the different options that are available and the benefits and downfalls of each. (In-depth analysis below the info-graph)Compliance Solutions Ranked Infographic


Why would someone need a compliance solution in the first place? The main reason would be to ensure the safety of your employees and your products, but they also increase the longevity and profitability of your business. A bad slip up could cause injury or death to an employee or a customer, imprisonment of the business owner, or at the very least a very costly fine. As exciting as cutting corners to increase profitability might sound it comes with the looming threat of being a terrible person and also losing everything you were working towards in the first place. On top of that, when employees are safe and cared for, they work harder and produce better results. Training ensures they know how to do their job properly and reduces waste in the form of product loss and company time. In fact, for every dollar spent on compliance you can expect to see a $4-6 return based on research conducted by OSHA. Compliance solutions are also a great PR move for your company, they show customers that you care about the safety of them and your employees. So, lets get into the options that are currently available.

Paper Compliance Systems-

One of the most common compliance solutions, especially for companies just getting started, is going the paper route. Documents are managed by hand and stored in binders, folders, and file cabinets. This system has worked for years and may seem outdated but is far better than nothing.

Some of the benefits of a paper compliance system are-

  • Minimum compliance requirements are met- reduced legal risk
  • Paper documents can travel out of the range of Wi-Fi or cell coverage
  • Builds trust with employees

Some of the downfalls include-

  • Hard to track down and update
  • Time consuming to manage or not managed at all
  • Easy to miss important updates to meet requirements or improve safety and compliance
  • Costly compared to other available options
  • Not environmentally friendly
  • If the person managing it leaves it is usually lost or hard to revive

Spreadsheet and Document Based Compliance Systems-

Many times these are used to measure the paper based compliance systems, however, they need to be in a separate category as they don't always get used together. Documents are managed on the computer and stored in files, folders, and work computer systems.

Some of the benefits are-

  • Better measurement of compliance results
  • Documents can be saved on personal devices for review
  • Easier tracking of compliance system

Some of the downfalls include-

  • Minimum compliance requirements may not be met (accessibility is limited)
  • Can still be difficult to track down and updates may not be shared
  • Time consuming to manage or not managed at all
  • Easy to miss important updates to meet requirements or improve safety and compliance
  • If the person managing it leaves it is usually lost or hard to revive

Compliance Consultants-

Right up there with paper compliance systems is contracting a consultant. This is less of a compliance solution as it is a way to support and maintain a system. Consultants come with an abundance of knowledge and experience in compliance and can generally offer great advice and additional tools to bolster your compliance system or to get one started for you.

Benefits of using a consultant include-

  • Pre-existing training and knowledge
  • Documents or systems to work off of
  • Know and understand compliance requirements

Downfalls include-

  • Not working in your company can lead to lack of understanding
  • They are not on site at all times to help meet compliance or recognize issues
  • Possible poor communication can hurt compliance system

Compliance Manager-

Hiring a trained safety, EHS, or compliance manager is more of a commitment but offers many of the same benefits of a consultant. Hiring someone is especially useful if they have previously worked at a company like yours and they have a good track record of maintaining compliance.

Benefits include-

  • Same as a consultant PLUS
  • On site full time
  • Better understanding of your business
  • Knowledge can be increased through training and other resources

Downfalls include-

  • Time can be eaten up by other tasks not compliance related
  • Employees may resent them if company is lacking safety culture
  • Time waste associated with management of paper, file systems, and reporting
  • If this person leaves compliance system may be lost or hard to revive

Web-Based Document Management-

Another compliance solution commonly used as more companies try to streamline is a web-based document management system. Typically, these come in the form of Dropbox or some other commonly available online file sharing program.

Benefits include-

  • Same as paper compliance system PLUS
  • Easier access to documents
  • Easier to update
  • Environmentally friendlier

Downfalls include-

  • Lack of internet will cause non-compliance
  • Time consuming to update and manage
  • Time consuming to create reports
  • Difficult to find documents if not managed well
  • If person managing it leaves compliance system may be lost or hard to revive

Custom Built Software-

More and more large companies are opting to build in-house software to manage their compliance system. This offers additional benefits such as including human resource or other components unique to their own needs. This requires programmers but does give you and your employees a leg up on paper compliance systems or file sharing programs.

Benefits include-

  • Same as web-based document management PLUS
  • Easier to update and manage
  • Easier to find documents
  • Additional benefits if built in

Downfalls include-

  • Very costly compared to other options
  • Very time consuming to build and maintain
  • Programming challenges mean wasted money and time
  • Breaches or breakdowns in systems can cause loss of documents, non-compliance, or legal issues
  • If person maintaining compliance system leaves system may break down

EHS Management Software-

The most comprehensive compliance solution currently available is EHS management software. EHS management software has two common forms- browser driven or app driven, both have their advantages, however browser driven tends to be easier to work with.

Benefits include-

  • Same as custom built software PLUS
  • Same as consultant PLUS
  • Every employee in the company now has the ability to provide the benefits of a compliance manager
  • Time savings managing documents averaging 90%
  • More cost effective than all other provided options
  • Provide the tools to not only meet compliance but improve compliance and other aspects of the company
  • Built-in real-time reports
  • Accessible any time, anywhere, with or without service
  • Already built and in use by companies meeting or exceeding compliance standards
  • Software and compliance experts on staff at all times
  • System backups and other safeguards prevent breaches and data loss
  • System maintained even through new management or changes in compliance people 

Downfalls include-

  • A good system will require effort up front to get your company’s foundation into the software
  • Switching to new providers can be cumbersome and frustrating if your old provider chooses to make it so
  • You’ll probably have to talk to someone on the phone or at the very least exchange emails

The truth is that some combination of the options above is probably the best route. Take the options that fit your needs and budget and massage them into your company in order to get the results you need. Try different compliance solutions out and research what options make the most sense for you. Get a consultation, quote, or free trial of the BasicSafe EHS management software by clicking the button below.

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