Recent headlines such as “[Company X] under fire for pollution and poisoning Chinese workers” or “U.S. opens criminal inquiry into chemical spill” serve as reminders of the far-reaching, costly and very public impacts that can result from an act or omission causing harm to human health or the environment. It thus should come as no surprise that regulatory compliance remains among the highest priorities for many companies. The risk to a company’s reputation and value when an environmental incident occurs—be it an unintentional spill or an intentional act—is prompting more companies to pay closer attention to the risks associated with their operations.

Unfortunately, risks from traditional environmental, health and safety (EHS) practices are often viewed too narrowly, within institutional silos, and without a cohesive, holistic framework that identifies and manages risks. The risks of noncompliance are increasing not only due to more complex and demanding laws and regulations but also to greater shareholder awareness and expectations, increased enforcement, instant and widespread transparency from social media, and increased scrutiny by environmental groups and plaintiffs’ lawyers.

Compliance Is Organic and Requires Constant Attention

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