Environmental Issues and how to keep your business safe

Where trade and the environment are concerned, incidents and mishaps are commonplace…perhaps even to be expected.But if those incidents are mismanaged or regulatory bodies get involved, things can soon escalate – and when they do, the cost to your business will soon escalate too.

Where trade and the environment are concerned, incidents and mishaps are commonplace…perhaps even to be expected.

But if those incidents are mismanaged or regulatory bodies get involved, things can soon escalate – and when they do, the cost to your business will soon escalate too.

When it comes to environmental responsibilities, any oversights can have big consequences. The trouble is, while building strong environmental credentials isn’t easy, maintaining those credentials can be even harder.

From contaminated land to foul drainage to disturbing protected wildlife, environmental incidents can be devastating if your organisation is found culpable.

In fact, it’s not always just a case of who is at fault; even one negative headline can follow your business around long after the initial dispute is resolved, and reputations that have been built up over decades can crumble instantly if a dispute becomes particularly bitter or infamous.

When is a near-miss one too many?

Whatever industry you operate in – whether you have staff working in factories, large distribution warehouses or operating heavy machinery and equipment – the risk of something going wrong is always there.

And if something does go wrong, hopefully you’ll have the right risk assessments, protocols and mitigation processes in place to deal with any incidents as safely and efficiently as possible.

Environmental risks require the same level of consideration and management. If you’ve had a near-miss in the past the worst thing you can do is ignore it, put your head in the sand or simply thank your lucky stars it wasn’t worse and move on!

Environmental issues in particular can have a real knock-on effect, with the scale of the problem escalating quickly and sometimes even grinding trading to a halt completely.

Consider a newly-built car park next to a distribution warehouse for example; poor drainage can lead to excess run-off which can lead to polluted waters which can lead to endangered protected species…and before long you could be being accused of environmental damage by a regulatory body and risk prosecution and being taken to court.

The key to protecting your business and your reputation is to take learnings from any close calls or mishaps that have occurred before, or have the potential to occur, and put in place measures to ensure they aren’t made in the future.

As environmental consultants, here at Peak Associates we take pride in helping our clients to put the right management systems in place to prevent future incidents from happening and improve risk control organisation-wide.

Our top tips for keeping your business safe

  • Seek expert help and advice early on – don’t second-guess risks. Where environmental issues are concerned it’s really important you engage with experts in the field who can help identify problem areas and advise on the best way to manage them.
  • Put prevention measures in place – this may be in the form of detailed risk assessments, site improvements, the implementation of technology or new best practice plans to ensure you have the right prevention measures in place.
  • Keep organised records – if your organisation has been accused of causing environmental damage or harm, even if you are convinced you are not at fault, make sure all actions and communications are documented thoroughly and records are well-kept.
  • Revisit management plans regularly – what works well today may be inadequate in a few years’ time. Just as your business and the environment are constantly adapting, so too must your management of those risks.
  • Stay on top of changes to the law – elements of the law can change often and quickly, and it’s common for businesses, both big and small, to fall foul of this.  It’s crucial you stay up-to-date on any new developments or changes to the law, and adapt your provision accordingly.
  • Use consultants with strong knowledge of regulatory bodies – we can help you challenge regulators where appropriate and provide the scientific evidence needed to support your argument. We can also set up a dialogue with regulators to open up communication and ensure you are in the best possible position to fight your claim.
  • Beware of malicious intent – environmental conflicts involving malicious intent are not unheard of, particularly where large, well-known organisations are involved. Your best line of defence is to engage with experienced environmental consultants from the start who can gather evidence as to who is at fault.
  • Trust in the science – as well as helping our clients to clear their name through gathering and delivering scientific evidence, we always endeavour to unearth the real source of any conflict so that potentially devastating damage isn’t left undetected and mismanaged into the future.

If you are looking for ways to safeguard your environment and protect your business, or indeed if a claim has been brought against you and you need some advice, don’t hesitate to get in touch for more information.

We’re a very friendly team and we’d welcome the opportunity to help with any environmental issue you may have.

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