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On Environment: A Checklist to Help You Bring Knowledge and Action Together

Jessica Sarnowski

This blog post utilizes a sports analogy to explain why action is key to executing on EHS compliance. A sample checklist is also provided.

One could argue that rules are meaningless if they can’t be “actioned.” Those of you who’ve read my previous posts know that I am a sports enthusiast. I’ve analogized EHS scenarios to running, biking, and now, of all things, mixed martial arts.

The UFC follows the Unified Rules of MMA. The rules include prohibitions against “fouling” an opponent: hair pulling, strikes to the back of the head, biting…and so on. These rules provide structure to a polarizing and combative sport, but they are meaningless if a referee doesn’t call the “foul” when he/she needs to. The referee may know the rule, “don’t let one opponent poke the other’s eye,” but the rule is only impactful when the referee stops the fight and the victim is given a few minutes to recover before continuing.

I know that this may seem like a stretch, but the same can be said of EHS compliance – and the topic of environmental regulation similarly incites passionate reactions from both sides of the octagon (or aisle).

Let’s say that you have an excellent, up to date compliance register or legal register. This is wonderful! You know what regulations apply to your company and facility. You know when to report on GHG emissions, when to get a permit, and how to properly transport hazardous waste. GREAT! This is the first step. However, this can only take you so far. You have the knowledge, but you also need a tool to effectively use that knowledge and assign tasks to employees that will fulfill your reporting obligations. This is the difference between knowing and doing:

  • Knowing: “I need to report the release of X pollutant on Y date”
  • Doing: “Employee 1 – you are responsible for reporting X pollutant by Y date.”

To effectively comply with regulatory requirements, you can’t stop at “knowing.”

If a referee sees a foul and yet does nothing about it, then all structure to MMA would be lost. If, as an EHS manager, you know that you need a permit, but you don’t communicate that knowledge to employees who need to apply for that permit, then your knowledge didn’t result in meaningful action. Task engines provide structure to help you act on obligations and software can be a great tool for managing tasks, delegating responsibilities, and keeping track of obligations through recordkeeping. Knowledge and action go hand in hand – in MMA and in EHS management.

With that in mind, here is a sample checklist that you can tailor to your own needs:

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On Environment is a twice monthly post by Jessica Sarnowski, Intelex’s Global Compliance Content Lead.

Author Bio:

As Intelex’s Global Compliance Content Lead, EHSQ Content Strategy, Jessica drives overall content strategy, with a particular focus on overseeing the delivery of high-quality compliance content within the EHSQ Alliance.

Responsible for identifying and cultivating valuable compliance content for EHSQ professionals, Jessica fosters engagement in the EHSQ Alliance by working with experts in the field. 

Jessica has over 10 years of public and private sector experience in environmental policy and law. Jessica received her Juris Doctor from Vermont Law School and Master of Laws degree in Environmental Law from The George Washington University Law School. You can follow Jessica on LinkedIn by clicking HERE.



This material provided by the Intelex Community and EHSQ Alliance is for informational purposes only. The material may include notification of regulatory activity, regulatory explanation and interpretation, policies and procedures, and best practices and guidelines that are intended to educate and inform you with regard to EHSQ topics of general interest. Opinions are those of the authors, and do not necessarily reflect the opinion of Intelex. The material is intended solely as guidance and you are responsible for any determination of whether the material meets your needs. Furthermore, you are responsible for complying with all relevant and applicable regulations. We are not responsible for any damage or loss, direct or indirect, arising out of or resulting from your selection or use of the materials.



January 28, 2019 @ 10:28 AM EST Environment

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