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Comm-Trac™ FAQs

This paper presents some common questions we field from clients and prospective clients about Comm-Trac™ and how it fits into their organization.

I am not sure of the EH&S commitments and actions that are required or being completed in my company

While the total universe of all EH&S regulatory requirements is very complex, in reality most companies have a very manageable number of regulations, and associated actions, that apply to their workplace. The key to successful EH&S management is to identify those requirements and then manage the specific actions required. This is where Comm-Trac excels: providing the tool to identify, communicate and manage that unique list of actions that allows your company to cost-effectively maintain EH&S compliance and reduce overall risk.

We are short of staff and are facing a potential downsizing. I need to make sure critical compliance items are being done by somebody

Knowing what you need to do, when it needs to done, and who is responsible for insuring completion is the basis for an effective compliance program. In many companies, EH&S responsibilities are spread among a range of corporate, operations and support staff. Critical compliance items often reside with these people, who usually use tools such as their calendar, notes on the wall, tickler files, spreadsheets, etc to identify what they are doing. This can cause a great deal of problems and increased costs to management when facing staffing shortages or reductions: critical items can be missed and it can take a great deal of time to identify and reassign these actions. Comm-Trac solves these problems by listing in one location all of your critical EH&S commitments and associated actions, and then assigning specific people and completion dates to those items. Comm-Trac then automatically tracks each action and notifies the responsible person and management of upcoming actions, completed actions and overdue actions. You can be sure that your critical compliance items are being properly managed.

I think that document is here...somewhere.

EH&S compliance programs are document intensive. Permits, licenses, procedures, guidelines, audit forms, checksheets, inspection forms, and other documents need to be maintained, updated and communicated across the company. Many unproductive hours are spent in doing just that. Comm-Trac can help greatly. You can store documents right in Comm-Trac ™, access documents stored in other document management systems, or even connect to intranet or internet sites to access documents. All right from one easy to use source... Comm-Trac ™.

The CEO/Board has just asked me for a status report on our EH&S compliance.

An accident, unanticipated regulatory inspection, question from the community or a financial analyst - EH&S compliance issues can quickly jump from below the radar to a critical issue to a CEO or the Board. And when that happens, they will be looking for quick and accurate information. And that may dramatically readjust your week's calendar – unless you have Comm-Trac! With Comm-Trac you can create useful, up to the minute reports for reporting your compliance programs and status. In minutes, not days.

I am responsible for EH&S compliance but the people actually doing the work are all over the company and not under my direct control. How do I effectively manage that?

EH&S regulations impact employees across the company, unlike other regulatory schemes, such as taxes, which can be handled adequately by a central support group. This requires a unique response by the company, which recognizes that effective compliance involves many people and those people need the training and tools to do the job. For effective EH&S compliance, it is critical that the front line employees and supervisors know exactly what they need to do, and when they need to do it. Reminders in the form of e-mail notices or paper lists can be invaluable. These people generally have many things on their plate, and the more support given to them, the more effective and productive they will be. Comm-Trac gives the front line personnel the information and support they need to do the job, while giving managers the ability to effectively manage the EH&S function in a cost effective manner.

My EH&S consulting budget seems to be too high and because I am not an EH&S technical expert I am not really sure how to effectively manage their relationship and budget. I have to rely on the consultant.

There is no doubt that EH&S compliance is a complex issue and many of the actions required are technical in nature. However, non-EH&S managers can effectively manage EH&S programs. The key is identifying up front the requirements that apply to your business, and then the associated actions required to meet those requirements. By putting your commitments and actions into Comm-Trac, you can assign specific actions to others, including consultants. Comm-Trac will notify the consultant via e-mail or on-screen of upcoming items, and will track those items through to completion, notifying you of the steps along the way. This allows you to effectively manage your resources and utilize consultants in a proper manner. This also assists you in evaluating the possibilities for outsourcing certain EH&S functions and reducing manpower.

When my staff goes on vacation, are ill or leave the company, I need to make sure that critical compliance items are done in their absence.

When employees go on vacation or are ill or leave the company, reassignment of work activities may not be at the top of their list. Many employees do not have this information organized, so it is a major effort to go through the tickler files, notes, calendars, spreadsheets, etc to identify what needs to be done, the supporting documentation to do it, and when it needs to be completed. Either they spend a good bit of time in unproductive work preparing for their departure, or actions get missed. Comm-Trac eliminates that problem. Employees' upcoming actions can be immediately identified and temporarily assigned to others as necessary. And the supporting documentation for the action can be right there in the Comm-Trac system for the employee to do the job right.

Our front line people are not used to computers and may be resistant to an electronic tool for EH&S compliance.

For an EH&S program to be truly cost-effective and efficient in meeting compliance goals, the front line people who are doing the work must be an integral part of the EH&S effort. Because front line people are busy in getting the primary job done, they need effective tools for EH&S functions. They need a tool that they can learn right away; that provides real benefit to them and not just to management or corporate support departments; and one that fits in with how they work, not the other way around. While most software tools on the market claim to be easy to use and "user friendly", in reality most programs are too complex to learn and not intuitive to the average employee. Most EH&S programs aim at the corporate EH&S professional, who may have the time and experience to run complex programs. Comm-Trac is different. It was developed with careful thought to ALL of the users that need to use the tool, and is designed to be used by front line personnel as well as support staff. Powerful functions are carefully blended into the program to maintain the simplicity while providing a great deal of functionality. Comm-Trac doesn't have all of the various "modules", multiple screens and seldom used data fields that other programs use, because that approach makes the program too time consuming to learn and difficult to use for the average employee who does EH&S compliance as a part of their job, but not their primary job. And Comm-Trac can be customized to your operations so that data critical to your business is tracked.

If I get them over the computer issue, I am concerned that the front line personnel will feel that a tracking system will be too much work and done only for management's purposes. Also, they may be upset about that much oversight in their work.

An effective EH&S management tool must be very easy to use, intuitive and provide real benefits to the front line people and others using the system. Employees can start using Comm-Trac with less than 30 minutes of training, and can quickly update the information for their actions within seconds. We have found that they appreciate the ability to quickly look up upcoming actions and be automatically reminded when items are coming due. Comm-Trac assists front line personnel in communicating with management about their work duties and resources needed. Comm-Trac is designed for the front line users.

One of our permits expired and I did not even know that it needed to be renewed

With fewer staff and more work, everybody seems to be doing more with less. That makes it easy for non-routine items to slip through the cracks. However, missing something like a permit renewal can have a tremendous impact on your operations. Enter those items into Comm-Trac and have the peace of mind that they will not slip anymore. Whether the item is due next month, next year, or 10 years from now, Comm-Trac will keep vigilant and remind you at the time intervals you select that the item is coming due. This is also a great way to pass on corporate knowledge to future employees. A new employee taking over an area with associated permits may never know that the permit expires next year. They will, with Comm-Trac!

I am not sure that our EH&S program really meets all of the regulatory requirements, but things are going well and we have not had any problems. It will be difficult to spend time and money to improve an area where we have not had a problem

EH&S compliance has to fit in with all the other priorities when allocating the budget and resources. There is no doubt that non-compliance with EH&S regulations carry the risk of potentially serious impacts to the environment, the health and safety of employees, and your customers and the community in which you live. Non-compliance also carries the risk of significant monetary, corporate and personal liabilities. While a company may "get away with" non-compliance for a time, one accident, spill, complaint, whistleblower or other incident can change that immediately. Then the company faces the consequences of repeated violations, which carry a potential penalty for every day of violation, as well as significant negative legal, financial and community impacts. Also, a company taking the position that it does not need to identify and properly manage EH&S regulatory responsibilities runs the risk of criminal prosecution of the company and responsible managers and staff.

A solid EH&S program CAN be put in place in a cost-effective manner. Many people are surprised that such a program can actually improve the bottom line in a company. You don't need to throw a bunch of money and resources at the issue to get an effective EH&S program. We can show you how to do this and help you get started on a very cost-effective program to achieve compliance, enhance the safety and health of employees and the environment, reduce costs and improve your company image through an effective EH&S management program.