For the last couple years it seemed like all we heard about was Sustainability, everything from Sustainable Businesses, to Sustainable Products and Sustainable Energy. Based on the last couple weeks it appears the one thing that we do not have is a Sustainable Economy.
Given the severity of the economic meltdown and the inevitable fallout in terms of spending, resource cuts and layoffs the real question is “how sustainable is your EHS program?”
Is your program robust enough to survive without significant failures (releases, fatalities, violations, fines) or has it been “leaned” out to the point that you are already in trouble?
Can you rely on the strength and integration of your EHS Management Systems to see you through these hard times? While everyone’s answers will be different, I believe that we all have more in common than we may suspect.
If it turns out that you will need a fallback position, where do you draw the line? Something tells me that we will see a resurgence in talk about the importance of regulatory compliance and worker safety, two areas that are in reality the foundation of any sustainability program.
It’s time to start thinking about how to respond to questions like “How do you know that you are actually in compliance?” and you might want to also revisit your incident reporting and audit systems.
Truth is, we’ve been through tough economic times before—the problem is that I’m worried that it’s never been this severe before. Because of this, I think, if there’s every a time to get real, inventory your resources, and determine what is important and how you are going to deliver it, it’s now.