Compliance is a major issue. Even more so now that so many businesses are under new health and safety laws. Regulators often pay visits to companies because they want to drop in on any given working day to see if the proper laws, rules and regulations are being adhered to. Many times they won’t tell you they’re coming, but other times they will disclose a set period where they will drop in. So before they spring up on you, you should be ready to give them a full tour of your company office, manufacturing, warehouses and more. Here is how you can prepare for visits from regulators and be ready to answer any questions they have, show them anything they want to inspect and be sure to get yourself a 10/10 review. These inspections could result in fines or praise from regulatory bodies so they matter.
Basic cleanup time
When regulators come to your office or your manufacturing site, they will immediately want to get the basics out of the way. They do not expect you to have any issues with health and safety, as it’s such a bread and butter concept and compliance area. However, you would be surprised at how many companies fail on health and safety inspections, and the whole visit turns into a corrective session whereby small and big issues in health and safety take the most amount of time.
So firstly, you will need to go around your office, making sure every health and safety regulation is being met. Make sure water is not kept near wiring. So water bottles on tables need to be away from the wiring for computers. Make sure that lighting is not hanging loosely. Make sure that the temperature and climate control is within limits. Other things like rodent and critter extermination or inspection should be done as well.
The nitty gritty details
Now we have to get into the details of your specific industry and products. If you have a technology product, the manufacturing rules you are implementing have to be above par and or in spec. For example, do your workers have protective equipment when handling hot pieces of metal? When they are drilling? When they are around loud machinery are their ears protected? You have to think of these sorts of things that are specific to your operation. When the regulator arrives, they will want a hard hat, ear muffs, face mask and gloves as they go around your production floor. It’s vital that you never have any shortage of personal protective equipment.
Are you also sticking to the regulations regarding copyright? You have to show you are making a unique product and not necessarily copying the design of another brand. This means, have patents ready to reveal, show how you are implementing the designs, creating them, testing them, etc. This also comes down to selecting the right materials. Can you show your raw materials meet specifications?
When they arrive
Even though many regulators will be dropping in without your prior knowledge, they still expect their sudden appearance to wear off quickly and get straight down to business. This is why you need to have some ID cards and lanyards like this ready so they can wear them around your office and or plant / facility. It’s common for regulators to go off on their own and inspect areas without any supervision from one of your employees. So for everyone else going about their day, it’s good to know who this person is and the only way they can do that is with an ID card.
When they do arrive, make sure managers are ready to speak to them. So if you have a manager running a team, they should be ready to take in the regulator when he or she arrives at their area of the office. Regulators will kind of be passed from manager to manager, as they will want to speak with management figures who are in charge of meeting compliance standards in their specific area. So go around the office and notify the manager of who is here and they should be ready to drop what they are doing and speak with them if they get asked questions.
Answering their questions one on one
By the end of the visit, chances are the regulator will want to meet with a senior person for a one on one meeting. This is something very common, as they like to debrief business owners of what they found, what the implications of their findings could be and what you could do to improve things.
So, when the regulator is done with their inspection, have a meeting room ready with refreshments and snacks. Sit down with the regulator and take on board what they have to say. They may tell you some things you will not be happy about, but remember that this is your problem and nothing they should be blamed for. It’s okay to disagree with their findings but take this up with the regulating body, not with the compliance agent who is paying you a visit.
Talk to them about the things you have improved and make it clear that you are proactively improving your compliance directives. Many regulators will give you a chance to explain why something has gone wrong and then make a note of it. So the penalties are never clear cut, you could get off lightly with a warning because you explain that a new batch of personal protective equipment was ordered but hasn’t arrived yet.
Regulators hold a lot of power and if you don’t adhere to compliance regulators, they can seriously damage your reputation with clients and customers. You should be ready to welcome them, show them around and then answer any questions they have. Take on board their criticism and always provide evidence or a reason why you have failed a compliance legislation.
Note: This is a collaborative post