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EHS Self-Auditing: Effectively Utilizing Privileges to Protect Your Findings

Assessing compliance with EHS-related requirements is fundamental for industry, not only to validate compliance assurance efforts, but to help prevent, or at least minimize, enforcement exposure. At the same time, however, candid evaluations give rise to other risks in the form of (i) creation of evidence of compliance shortfalls and (ii) management knowledge of those deficiencies. Effectively utilizing legal tools, such as privileges, can substantially reduce those concerns. 

With decades of experience guiding companies in the design and implementation of individual EHS audits as well as overall auditing programs, join Tim Wilkins and Bob Nichols as they provide insight on how to control liability concerns with evidentiary privileges and appropriate use of agency penalty leniency programs associated with self-auditing. Tim and Bob will address, among other issues, how to maximize the benefit of:

  • the attorney-client privilege

  • state EHS-related privilege laws

  • agency policies on self-auditing, including those maintained by the EPA and OSHA

  • the attorney work product protection in the context of post-incident auditing

© 2020 Bracewell LLPNational Law Review, Volume X, Number 107


About this Author

Tim Wilkins, environmental, natural resources, attorney, Bracewell law firm

Tim Wilkins is the head of Bracewell's firm-wide Environmental and Natural Resources practice group. Tim represents large companies that rely on him for strategic environmental permitting assistance, the defense of environmental enforcement actions, and assistance with the environmental aspects of major transactions. He is a nationally-recognized leader in environmental auditing, having overseen environmental compliance audits involving thousands of locations, handled hundreds of environmental audit disclosures, and pioneered the development and use of U.S. EPA's audit...

Robert Nichols, employer litigation attorney, bracewell law firm, lawyer harassment claims, wrongful discharge case, occupational safety issues

Robert Nichols represents employers in litigation, administrative actions and arbitrations concerning discrimination and retaliation, harassment, wrongful discharge, occupational safety and health, union-management relations, wage and hour matters, and other concerns related to employment. Mr. Nichols has defended more than 200 employment-related lawsuits in federal and state court, represented employers in more than 300 federal and state agency employment discrimination investigations, and handled numerous Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) cases, including seven OSHA fatality investigations.

Mr. Nichols provides day-to-day legal advice to employers with respect to all aspects of the employment relationship. Mr. Nichols isboard certified in labor and employment law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization.