Understanding Regulatory Compliance Firms and VBA's Approach: Your Questions, Answered.

Selecting from the long list of environmental consulting agencies and regulatory compliance firms can be daunting, so we have provided answers to common questions to explain why VBA is the best choice to assist you with your environmental, health and safety compliance needs. Contact VBA with any additional questions or to talk through the process with a knowledgeable team member.

VBA Compliance Assurance associates have a variety of certifications that are recognized as demonstrating experience, knowledge and competency in the EHS compliance and consulting field. Examples include Professional Engineer (PE) licensure; Certified Professional Environmental Auditor (CPEA) designations issued by the Board of Environmental, Health & Safety Auditor Certifications (BEAC) in the specialties of environmental compliance, health and safety, management systems and Responsible Care; and HAZWOPER certification.

As part of these certifications, VBA associates are required to continuously expand our knowledge and stay abreast of current and future industry changes and advances by achieving required continuing education credits annually. Independent of the continuing education requirements, VBA associates are involved with professional organizations where knowledge sharing is a cornerstone, and are continuously outperforming other regulatory compliance consulting firms by consistently monitoring regulatory actions that have an impact on our industry and the industries represented by our clients.

Environmental consulting is a service that helps companies, schools, manufacturers, and others be responsible corporate citizens, mitigate the risks of audit, and ensure they are in compliance with EPA and other regulatory bodies through regular reporting and documentation. VBA is one of the top environmental consulting firms in the United States, with highly experienced senior auditors. Learn more about specific environmental consulting services here.

For businesses that need to perform a health and safety audit or improve health and safety compliance, we provide the following health and safety services: health and safety management plans, compliance auditing, applicability determination, health and safety management systems, safety training, and more. See all health and safety services here.

VBA limits the number of employees on staff at any time, allowing a level of personal service that cannot be offered by larger companies. The person that is working with you during the upfront planning of your project will be the person that works with you every step of the way through completion. This ensures continuity across all facets of the project and any additional projects that may arise at the facility, including a high level of understanding related to the goals for the company and individual projects that may be less prevalent at a larger company where scope communication and project management is handed down the line.

VBA is extremely selective in the hiring of employees. VBA professionals have over 100 years of combined compliance and consulting experience, have a demonstrated ability and aptitude related to comprehension of regulatory and internal compliance requirements, and have demonstrated ability to apply practical solutions to meet the needs of our clients while ensuring compliance and sustainability. All VBA associates are expected to be able to communicate requirements and recommendations across all levels of a company in a clear and understandable manner.

VBA’s specialty lies in our ability to review a facility’s activities and operations, identify regulations and quickly assess applicability, and relate the requirements of applicable regulations to a facility’s particular operations and activities. VBA associates are able to apply these skills to determine compliance with any requested group of parameters, whether these parameters include government regulations such as environmental, safety, security, and transportation requirements; internal management system or corporate procedure requirements; or recordkeeping policies.

In addition to compliance auditing, VBA utilizes the skill of its associates to develop and implement compliance solutions for our clients. These solutions may include regulatory requirements, such as permit submittal and plan development, or may include internal programs, such as development of management systems or standard operating procedures.

VBA associates provide EHS compliance and consulting services across numerous industries and programs. We use the knowledge garnered through this experience to apply practical, sustainable solutions to achieve compliance and meet company goals in an efficient manner. VBA can look at your compliance needs from a fresh, independent perspective and bring best practices to light.

Unlike other regulatory compliance consulting firms, VBA associates do not use pre-developed protocols or “checklists” in the performance of audits. When auditing, VBA associates employ their in-depth understanding of regulatory requirements and the ability to correspond those requirements to the operations and activities at a facility to determine applicability and potential areas of non-compliance. The scope of the compliance audit determines the regulations that will be reviewed during an audit, and those regulations in effect become the audit protocol.

It can be difficult working with regulatory compliance consulting firms that refuse to adapt their audit finding formats, so VBA presents its audit findings in most any format requested by the client, including populating client-specific databases. If the client does not have specific requirements for the deliverable, VBA can develop a template for use or make suggestions on the best format for the report given the scope of the compliance audit.

VBA also performs audits initiated at the direction of legal counsel under attorney-client privilege and can adjust the scope of any project and format for providing findings as directed by legal counsel.

The process is dependent on the scope of the project, but generally encompasses an introductory meeting, site tours, employee interviews, records review and presentation of findings. The audit process can be as focused as review of one specific program for regulatory compliance in the program’s development and implementation, or as broad as a multi-media environmental, health and safety audit that covers Federal, state and local regulations across multiple company locations. The first step is to reach out to start discussing your specific needs.

VBA associates’ skills as auditors allow us to review applicable federal, state and local regulations with a concise understanding of how those regulations apply to the operations of the facility. Our industry experience is vast, and includes such industries as chemical manufacturers, food and beverage manufacturers, plywood facilities, petroleum refineries, petroleum terminals, ammonia facilities, pharmaceutical companies, feed and animal product manufacturers, container manufacturers, grain elevators, theme parks, printing operations, warehousing operations, transportation facilities, remediation sites, pulp and paper mills, asphalt emulsion plants, sulfuric acid plants, natural gas fractionators, propane storage and transportation facilities, power plants, colleges and universities, and hospitals.

As you can see from this list, VBA associates are adept at applying our unique skill set to any industry, and we consider ourselves to be one of the most highly adaptable environmental consulting agencies. All of VBA’s clients demonstrate a strong commitment to compliance, sustainability and continuous improvement and VBA consistently assists our clients in meeting these goals and objectives through development and implementation of creative and measurable solutions.

If your company has plans to acquire a new facility, VBA can assist with performing EHS due diligence activities related to the acquisition. This may include performing a baseline regulatory compliance assessment of the new facility to determine potential compliance gaps, filing required notifications with regulatory agencies to transition to new ownership, and/or obtaining new EHS permits where transfer to new ownership is not allowed.

If planning an expansion, VBA can assist with identifying applicable EHS regulatory requirements and reviewing design and construction parameters to ensure EHS regulatory compliance, and can also assist with obtaining necessary EHS permits associated with the expansion.

VBA’s experience expands beyond governmental regulatory compliance requirements to corporate requirements and sustainability initiatives. VBA associates can review corporate requirements and work with you to develop and implement a plan that fulfills corporate expectations while being practical for your facility and operations.

VBA can identify existing programs in place at your facility that can be used to fulfill corporate expectations, and can build new programs around those existing programs to ensure all corporate expectations are met in a manner that is familiar to your employees and suitable to your EHS culture. VBA can assist with monitoring the maturity of programs and management systems to ensure continuing compliance with corporate expectations and continuous improvement.

One of our consultants will discuss your needs and our recommended path forward. From there, we typically go through the following steps:

  • Work with you to identify a full scope for the project based on your needs, and our recommendations based on years of experience
  • Request and review additional information if needed to ensure the identified scope and provided proposal represent the best possible option and will result in desired outcome for your needs
  • Provide a proposal for the determined scope of work. Our proposals typically include:
    • Project scope
    • Tasks for completion and deliverables
    • Cost estimate
    • Estimated timeline
  • Implement scope in accordance with accepted proposal, working with you the entire way to keep you informed of the status of the project
  • Provide ongoing support, which may include:
    • Answering questions and supporting employee implementation regarding completed project
    • Regularly updating you on regulatory actions that may impact your business so you don’t have to worry about falling out of compliance
    • Future projects

Ask A Compliance Expert

Heather Stork, CPEA

Director of EHS Compliance Services