Editor’s note: In honor of Earth Day, we’ve recruited Andy James from The Waste Minimization Forum to guest blog with his take on sustainability and industry.
For years, industry has been framed as the bad guy, and I would like to discuss how each of us can help to end that.
On this Earth Day, I think we can all expect the usual parade of articles, and most will be critical of industry and manufacturing in one way or another. There will be some comparison of a beautiful national park next to a dark manufacturing plant from the 1970s (usually in grainy black and white, for added effect). There will be some specific past disasters and “bad apples” highlighted to make the point. No matter the title of the article, my bet is that somehow, someway, industry will be set up to “take the fall” on Earth Day.
The usual “industry is bad” discussion.
Remember the catastrophe that happened in January in Charleston, West Virginia? There was no regulatory requirement for the chemical 4-methylcyclohexane methanol (MCHM) to have secondary containment, and when a tank ruptured, the contents of the tank ended up in the river. This river was a source of drinking water for the local community of 300,000 people. Nothing could be done once this chemical was in the river, since the water could not be boiled to make it consumable (potable) again. The townsfolk could not drink or bathe in the water, and health concerns won’t be fully known for years. Many still will not drink the water.
What could have prevented this from happening and affecting the health of an entire town? Two words: secondary containment.
The only guarantees in life are death, taxes and our inability to control the weather. April showers may bring May flowers, but heavy rains can severely affect your business and your bottom line. Have a storm approaching? This is not the time for an anti-rain dance or a “Hope it misses us” mentality. Don’t wait until the last minute. If you haven’t done your homework and prepared ahead of time, a severe storm can result in the following severe consequences:
1. Environmental Impact – It is highly recommended that storm drains be inspected and cleaned out on a regular basis. Stormwater runoff (dirt, trash, paper, bottle caps, etc.) can result in pollution to the environment. If you operate near a navigable waterway and hold a National Pollution Discharge Elimination System permit, that trash could be expensive and you could be held responsible for hefty fines from the Environmental Protection Agency. Plus the negative publicity doesn’t help either.
The good news is that 1.3 million fewer workers are being injured on the job than 10 years ago—according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).
The bad news is that even though the number of injuries has been dropping, more than 2.9 million employees were still injured on the job last year. That translates to more than 8,000 employees being injured every single day of the year. And each day, of those 8,000 who are injured, 2,481 will miss at least one day from work. That’s bad for the employee, bad for production quotas and bad for the budget.
Don’t be scared—an inspection isn’t always a bad thing. Someone is just checking to be sure that you have the appropriate plans, procedures and permits in place, and that they are understood and being followed.
Being prepared and ready for an inspection can help relieve some of the anxiety. You can be better prepared for audits and inspections by doing the following:
• Creating an inspection team that is trained and whose members know their responsibilities
o Members may include plant managers, corporate managers, compliance officers, security personnel and legal counsel