There’s no question about it – the environment is important. After all, a clean environment means better community health, and since everyone shares the environment, it’s up to every responsible citizen, including corporate citizens, to do their part to keep the air, water and land clean. To aid in this effort, agencies like the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) put regulations in place to hold companies accountable for actions that have an impact on the environment. One way for companies to manage compliance with these regulations is to hire a dedicated environmental compliance officer.
What Does an Environmental Compliance Officer Do?
An environmental compliance officer is responsible for overseeing compliance with EPA regulations as well as state and local environmental regulations. They will need to be well-versed in the different types of chemical waste products that their respective employers process, and they will also need to understand the mechanisms by which this waste is safely disposed of.
To do this, most environmental compliance officers will need to work closely with management and safety professionals at chemical waste processing and disposal sites. This is because the environmental compliance officer will usually be required to document when, where, how and why chemical waste was disposed of. Details of all actions will need to be recorded so that the compliance officer can file the necessary forms with the EPA and state and local regulators.
Environmental compliance officers will be the point of contact and liaison between your company and environmental agencies and officials. If questions are raised about the handling or disposal of chemical waste at your company, the compliance officer will generally be the person responsible for meeting with regulatory bodies to discuss actions. The compliance officer will also coordinate with your company’s public relations officer to ensure that they have the correct information to provide to the press in the event that a compliance matter becomes public.
What Qualifications Does an Environmental Compliance Officer Need?
Qualifications for an environmental compliance officer can vary depending on location and the level of complexity of waste processing at your facility. In general, hiring an environmental compliance officer means looking for someone with a post-secondary degree in management, chemistry, policy management or environmental science. This is because the environmental compliance officer will not only need to understand the intricacies of chemical waste processing but will also need to understand government functions, structure and reporting.
An environmental compliance officer will also benefit from having analytical skills that are data-oriented. Most professionals in this role will need to keep up with statistics, and many will be required to track details related to environmental changes in the local community, levels of chemical waste output and other data related to the safe handling of chemical products and waste.
In What Department Does an Environmental Compliance Officer Work?
When hiring an environmental compliance officer, there are several departments that benefit from the role. Where you choose to place this position in your company’s hierarchy will depend on the scale of your operation and its complexity. Some companies will include all compliance positions in the legal department since compliance can involve legal issues. Others will include environmental compliance positions in safety departments since these positions are involved in overseeing the safe disposal of hazardous chemicals.
What Certifications Does an Environmental Compliance Officer Need?
When hiring an environmental compliance officer, you’ll also need to consider certifications. One of the industry standards for professionals who work in this capacity is the Certified Environmental and Safety Compliance Officer (CESCO) certification offered by the National Registry of Environmental Professionals. Your company or industry may have additional certifications that an environmental compliance officer will need to obtain before being qualified to report compliance activities to agencies like the EPA.