Some time ago a good friend and Director of Research for one of our clients told me the Board had requested he sign-off on legal compliance for the organisation. I told him not to do it, and indeed pointed out even if he wanted to, he couldn’t give such a guarantee.
Firstly, let me make it clear I understand the need for a Board to seek assurances like this, and my personal style of work has always been to work with and assist the company, and not frustrate their efforts. Therefore, to simply refuse the request would be belligerent and unco-operative, so he engaged Safety Action to conduct an independent legal compliance review, with intention of the Board receiving the report.
Interestingly, it was agreed the legal compliance review would cover all Australian legislation, not just related to workplace safety which is our normal speciality.
The scope of the review appeared daunting as it covered all; local government, state and federal legislation.
So how did we deal with this monumental task in a practical way so the Board could be provided with accurate and a meaningful response?
Step one: List all legislation
We listed every single piece of legislation at each level of government. Yes, this ran to thousands of citations.
Step two: Strike-Out Irrelevant
We “struck-out” (eliminated) the pieces of legislation which clearly had no relevance to the particular business. For example, the Victorian Wildlife (Game) Regulations 2012 eg duck season rules.
Step three: Consult Key Personnel
We consulted with key personnel in the business on the remaining, but still substantial listing, of legislation. To help identify items that were definitely applicable and those that might apply to the business. We then clarified which had some applicability by quick review of requirements. This allowed another batch of legislation to be eliminated.
Step four: Create a Legislative Compliance Table
We then reviewed the remaining items of legislation and listed:
a) Name of legislation
b) Key requirements of legislation
c) Company compliance systems in place
d) Responsibilities for relevant system(s)
e) Validation / status of systems (commentary)
The final phase of the review involved the arduous process of validating the current status of the systems in place designed to ensure compliance.
What can be seen from this process is that you can provide a systematic and credible response to requests for legal compliance sign-offs, but more importantly you do this by confirming the relevant legislation has been identified, systems are in place to ensure compliance, and that checks confirm the status of those systems.
In summary, you “sign-off” on the systems being in place to ensure compliance, not on legal compliance itself.
Contact Safety Action for a compliance review, or workshop place scheduled for Thursday 16 November 2017. Places limited so book early.