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Management Side
Week of 15 July 2019: Remember this about Regulators

Email Jim at jthompson@taii.com

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We can all agree that a certain amount of regulation is necessary. This is what makes modern society function as efficiently as it does. Certainly, it can function more efficiently, but that is a topic for another day.

In business, we often see regulations as purely a cost, and in some cases they may be. Another way of looking at this, though, is that those very regulations, applied equitably across the board, just may be protecting you from a competitor or a supplier who, left to their own devices, might cause extra costs to your business or cause you not to be competitive.

However, today I want to take this topic down a different path. Let's think for a little bit about regulators, the humans, that we have to deal with regularly. Yes, once we cover the caveats I listed above, we see them as a cost. That is not how they may see the matter, though.

There are many regulators who view their jobs with a passion. Often found in the environmental or employee safety areas, their passions may have started at a young age. Perhaps they had a parent who was injured at work when he or she was a child and grew up resolved to make sure that it did not happen to anyone else. Perhaps they had a relative that died of some hideous disease attributed to a workplace environment. Or, in school they became passionate about the environment and are determined to do something about it in their careers. And, of course, on top of this deep-seated passion, they earn their livings as regulators.

Treat such persons as a nuisance, a cost and with contempt at your peril. All you are doing is reinforcing their preconceived negative notions of businesses, particularly manufacturing businesses.

It goes without saying, like everyone else who comes on your property, they need to be treated professionally and with respect. This does not mean you should open your books and data to them any more than you would to any supplier. But, on the other hand, do not be overly protective nor suspicious.

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Onlypulpandpaperjobs.com has hundreds of registrants! [03.01.19]

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A mistreated regulator can find ways to cost your company money beyond what is necessary to maintain a legal, moral and ethical business. In some cases, they have criminal prosecution powers or can call in those who do. Site managers really don't like it when such an egregious environmental situation exists that their freedom is in peril.

Another condition to watch for is that which occurs when you arrive on a site as the new general manager. If your predecessor had been cheating on reporting requirements, you can be in trouble. While not the overall site manager, I once arrived on a site in charge of the environmental conditions as part of my overall responsibilities. We had a certain condition which we were supposed to report to the state regulatory authority within twenty-four hours if we had an excursion outside our limits. The folks on site who reported to me ask what they were to do if we had such an excursion. My answer: report it, of course.

Well, in my first few months we had a number of out-of-limits conditions, and we duly reported them. Regulators and our own corporate management asked what is going on, there has not been a reported out of limit condition at your mill in several years. The answer was simple, once I investigated it: my predecessor had not reported the problems.

Fortunately, I had already established a good relationship with the regulators and our in-house counsel involved in these matters. We were able to make corrections to our process and stay out of serious trouble.

However, if I had started out with an adversarial attitude, things could have become much, much worse for me and my manager.

For safety this week, environmental and safety regulations protect us as employees, too. Let's not forget this as we go about our daily tasks.

Be safe and we will talk next week.

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Onlypulpandpaperjobs.com has taken off like a rocket! Over fifty jobs are posted, in many interesting categories. These jobs are in at least 15 different US states. [06.19.19]

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Employers are on board with Onlypulpandpaperjobs.com. There are nearly forty employers located in fifteen different US states and six other countries. [06.19.19]

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