When Robin Fleming of Anvl got together with Luke Jacobs (co-founder & CEO) and Brandon Barlow of Encamp to talk about digital transformation for EHS teams and environmental compliance, their Campfire Session was more than informative.
It was a real-world look at how digital transformation continues to change the way work gets done — including environmental compliance.
Robin is Anvl’s co-founder and CEO. She’s also an authority on digital technology and how businesses use it to more effectively collect, analyze, and apply data of all kinds. And not surprisingly, Anvl’s platform for data management mirrors the Encamp platform and its powerful combination of data management and automation for environmental compliance and reporting.
Both platforms are digital transformation at its best. Watch the video to learn why.
Digital technology dates back to 1970s and the Digital Revolution. But for many EHS teams and environmental compliance, the digital movement is still in the early adoption stage. Some takeaways from the video to lead your EHS team through digital transformation (DT):
Anvl helps unlock critical data in real-time by connecting frontline workers and supervisors through a single, easy-to-use platform. The Anvl solution includes real-time data collection, in-the-moment guidance, alerts and analytics — supporting positive changes, productivity improvements, & cost and time savings.
For environmental compliance, continuous EHS training is a must. According to many EHS professionals Encamp works with, in fact, it’s a constant priority.
Such EHS training is vital for RCRA and EPCRA Tier II reporting. EHS professionals also rely on training to keep up with regulatory requirements. Even the latest industry developments and trends fall under the EHS training umbrella.
On Encamp’s recommendations list for EHS training resources, these five are at the top. (Thanks to our director of customer success for the assist.)
EHS Today is a leading magazine for EHS management professionals in the United States. You can also say their website is a living encyclopedia for EHS industry news. And without question, the webinars from EHS Today are excellent tools for EHS training.
Both upcoming and archived, their webinars offer information and analysis from industry leaders. They also address a range of environmental compliance, sustainability, and risk management topics. One webinar of note is “State of the EHS Industry: Exploring the Results of the EHS Research Study.” The webinar is archived from April 2020, but it’s still a relevant for EHS training.
You can access the full library of EHS Today webinars here.
The EHS Daily Advisor from BLR is another great website for all things EHS. They start with their newsletter as a daily source of EHS industry news and insights. A library of reports, eBooks, white papers and other materials also make for valuable EHS training resources.
One resource for EHS leaders that caught our eye? The EHS Leadership in 2021 report.
See the full list of other free EHS Daily Advisor resources here.
When it comes to RCRA training, McCoy and Associates are in a league of their own. McCoy is regarded for their in-depth RCRA training seminars, which can get costly. But what many EHS professionals don’t know is that McCoy also offers a library of free white papers. These papers cover virtually every waste topic imaginable. Consider them premier EHS training resources for RCRA.
You can find McCoy’s white paper library here.
Alison is one of the world’s largest free learning platforms for education and skills training. We’ve included them on our list for their ISO training courses for environmental management. They additionally offer a strong selection of Health & Safety training classes. Course ratings serve as guidelines for which courses are worth considering.
Current class offerings are listed here.
NAEM is the National Association for EHS&S Management. And environment, health, safety and sustainability (EHS&S) leaders can take advantage of the organization’s many professional development opportunities. Although various NAEM events require a membership, however, many of their resources and webinars for EHS training are free.
Register for upcoming webinars and access their library of archived webinars here.
We call it Better for You, Better for Nature. PR campaign? Nah. Encamp is just doing its part to help replenish the environment by planting trees.
And while it’s only one tree at a time, our count is already closing in on 3,300 new saplings. (Most likely more after this is posted. See the counter at the end of our Home page.)
Here’s how it works, and why we’re doing it.
The gist is, for every Tier II report that gets filed through our system for EHS compliance, Encamp makes a donation to have a tree planted somewhere in the 50 states. So first, thank you to every one of our customers who file a Tier II report from those states. Please keep them coming.
The next big thanks go to our friends at One Tree Planted, who do all the critical work. They grow new saplings, plant them, maintain them, and then tell how these new trees are benefitting our planet.
Quick fact from One Tree’s site: Trees help clean the air we breathe, filter the water we drink, and provide habitat to over 80% of the world’s terrestrial biodiversity. They also absorb harmful carbon from the atmosphere and are key ingredients in 25% of all medicines. Trees even provide jobs to more than 1.6 billion people around the world.
About One Tree Planted itself, they’re an environmental charity “dedicated to making it easier for individuals and businesses to give back to the environment.” Their mission is to let companies like Encamp help create a healthier climate, protect biodiversity, and aid reforestation efforts around the world. “All by planting trees!”
“We’ve been committed to aligning our business goals with environmental goals at Encamp from the very beginning,” said Luke Jacobs, Encamp’s co-founder and CEO. “Even before we had paying customers, we were committed to the idea of planting a tree for every Tier II report we file.”
This allows Encamp to cut down on paper costs, Jacobs explained, both by digitizing paper-based processes for its customers and by going the extra mile to get more trees planted across the country.
“Our mission at Encamp aligns well with the goals of One Tree Planted, and we’re excited to keep striving towards a world where good for business can equal good for the environment.
One Tree Planted started in 2014 and planted 150,000 trees its first full year. In 2019, they were able to get 4 million more trees in the ground worldwide.
One tree at a time, we’re proud to be contributing to that number.
Where do we even start? COVID-19 and the coronavirus pandemic are still running rampant. Masks and plastic gloves and face shields have become staples of our daily wardrobe. And safe to say, most people now know as much about Personal Protective Equipment — PPE — as any medical professional ever has.
Right now, until a proven vaccine gets here for COVID-19, PPE is our best protection. You know, wash your hands, distance… wear a mask. But the coronavirus and PPE are also converging on a different path. And the environment is suffering because of it.
Earlier this year, the World Health Organization projected the global production of PPE supplies would need to increase by 40% every month to keep pace with the pandemic. Translated, that means 89 million new masks, 76 million pairs of gloves and 1.6 million pairs of goggles. Every. Month.
Consultants at Frost & Sullivan additionally predicted the US alone could generate an entire year’s worth of medical waste in just two months. Credit the pandemic again.
Yet governments at the international, national, state and local level are still trying to decide where these millions of products will end up after they’re disposed of.
Not a new problem
Although COVID-19 has intensified the PPE issue, disposing of plastics in general was a problem long before the pandemic.
“PPE is just the tip of a mountain of toxic plastic waste that we’ve been ignoring for years,” said Sian Sutherland, co-founder of A Plastic Planet. A 2020 study co-authored by the not-for-profit group along with the sustainability firm, SystemIQ, backs him up, and it cites the ocean as taking the brunt.
The study forecasts that, by 2040, 29 million tons of plastic will find its way into oceans worldwide every year if governments and industry don’t take immediate and significant action. That annual rate would be nearly triple of what it is now.
“A new breed of single-use plastic”
“PPE is a whole new breed of single-use plastic that we didn’t have even in January,” said Claire Potter, a marine plastic expert in the United Kingdom. “We’re now seeing it being washed up onto the beaches — it’s coming in, we’re also seeing it left on the beaches as well.”
For PPE itself, the underlying culprits are that most of these supplies are used only once and often contain various types of plastics. (Prior to the 1980s, most all PPE was reusable.) These plastics can range from polypropylene and polyethylene in face masks and gowns to nitrile, vinyl and latex in protective gloves.
In many western countries, at least, companies have long incinerated hazardous medical waste like PPE on site to prevent the transmission of infectious disease. “Other than burning it, there is nothing really we can do,” said Sander Defruyt, head of the plastics team at the Ellen MacArthur Foundation. “It’s designed to be waste.”
So now, add millions of citizens to the thousands of medical staff who must wear single-use protective equipment to guard against COVID-19, and PPE is everywhere. And if it isn’t being incinerated, it’s showing up in conventional waste streams or being dumped in the open air.
“If it’s on your streets, it’s going to the ocean because it’s one rainfall away from getting into a storm water system, and then being carried into a river and into the ocean,” warned Mark Benfield, a zooplankton ecologist and professor at Louisiana State University.
Or as a recent WWF report puts it, even if only 1% of PPE masks are disposed of incorrectly, some 10 million of them could infiltrate the natural environment each month — polluting rivers, waterways and oceans around the world.
What the regulatory agencies recommend for PPE
To properly dispose of used PPE “with potential or known COVID-19 contamination,” recently updated OSHA guidelines advise waste disposal workers to handle office and home solid waste just as they would any other non-contaminated municipal waste.
Typically, OSHA says, managing such waste “does not require special precautions beyond those already used to protect workers from the hazards they encounter during their routine job tasks in solid waste and wastewater management.”
Guidance from the World Health Organization (WHO) says employees should place their used PPE in a bag, seal the bag tightly, and place it in a sturdier garbage bag for pick up.
A medical setting is much different and far more regulated, however. In this case, the CDC and OSHA do not consider COVID-19-contaminated material to be a Category A infectious substance. Such material is still managed as regulated “medical waste.”
The general guidance OSHA uses for medical waste is if the person or item is “known or suspected” to be hazardous. This especially applies to single-use PPE. As OSHA says, it is the generator’s responsibility to determine if a waste is known or suspected to be hazardous and, in the event of COVID-19, infectious.
In industrial settings, under most circumstances PPE waste is not considered regulated medical (infectious) waste and can be treated as solid waste. According to the CDC and the WHO, waste materials that are not assumed to be contaminated do not require any special precautions. and can be managed as they typically would for the flu.
Waste that is indeed suspected or known to be contaminated with COVID-19 should be managed in accordance with standard CDC and OSHA procedures and handled like other regulated medical waste.
So what does this collision course of COVID-19, PPE and the environment mean for the EHS industry? Aside from a new type of waste to worry about, expect new regulations and PPE disposal programs to be developed on a continuing basis.
The Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (Defra) in the UK, for instance, recently issued new guidance on the PPE topic. Among multiple issues in their document, Defra addresses the benefits of reusable face masks, how best to dispose of PPE if you own a small business, and cleaning up waste in non-healthcare settings.
In Las Vegas, the Venetian Resort has partnered with TerraCycle to create a face mask recycling program. And at MIT and Brigham and Women’s Hospital, researchers have designed a new type of reusable face mask that can be easily sterilized and washed.
This is interesting, too. Beyond PPE, researchers at EPA and the CDC are developing (and already applying) methods for measuring SARS-CoV-2 levels in wastewater. SARS-CoV-2 is the strain behind COVID-19. Public health officials will be able to use these methods to determine infectivity, persistence, and treatment efficacies related to SARS-CoV-2 in wastewater in their communities.
Thus far, preliminary findings from the two agencies show that monitoring wastewater for the presence of SARS-CoV-2 can be a sensitive early indicator of low levels of COVID-19 infections. At the same time, such monitoring in wastewater could also signal decreasing levels of infection within a community.
Until the coronavirus pandemic subsides, EHS practices will be just as critical as the efforts to discover new ways to treat and prevent COVID-19.
Meantime, wash your hands, distance, wear a mask… and dispose of it wisely when the time comes.
Contact us. We can help with your EHS compliance in the battle to beat COVID-19.
Coming from the prestigious Awarding & Consultancy International, winning one award in their 2020 SaaS Awards Program is a proud achievement. Especially for environmental compliance software that usually flies under the SaaS radar.
Which makes winning two awards from this global program in the same year even more impressive.
Award #1: Encamp placed first in the SaaS Awards category for Best SaaS for Agriculture and Farming, which recognized Encamp for its end-to-end platform and SaaS delivery model for environmental compliance.
Award #2: Encamp was additionally recognized as the top SaaS Newcomer for 2020. If there’s one thing about the global Software as a Service stage, it’s competitive. Beyond just creative EHS compliance software, being the top newcomer in this category is the pinnacle of SaaS inventiveness.
Among other categories for the 2020 SaaS Awards program were Best Enterprise-Level SaaS Product, Best UX or UI Design in a SaaS Product, and Best Security Innovation in a SaaS Product.
Every year since 2011, the SaaS Awards have celebrated excellence in software ingenuity with nominations from across the world. Finalists and award winners are selected by a panel of international industry experts.
“For Encamp to be named as a winner in the 2020 SaaS Awards is huge,” said Encamp co-founder and CEO, Luke Jacobs. “Especially with both awards, it demonstrates our commitment to propelling innovation in environmental, health and safety software to new heights, and our obsession with providing tangible results to our customers in industries from agribusiness to logistics.”
In the retail agriculture industry alone, Encamp serves more than 100 clients across 2,000+ facilities and 40 states. (See our article How SaaS is Driving EHS Compliance Management for Agriculture and Farming, published by The SaaS Awards editorial team.)
But Encamp’s environmental compliance software also helps organizations maintain compliance in virtually any industry. By streamlining environmental compliance reporting with the Encamp platform, companies better understand and comply with all requirements for business operations. They more efficiently plan and monitor tasks for facilities, compliance due dates, Tier II filing, training schedules and other requirements.
These companies additionally improve accuracy throughout their environmental compliance process.
For organizations of all kinds, the dual 2020 SaaS Awards highlight Encamp’s rise as an inventive EHS software solution for environmental compliance.
To learn more on Encamp, read about our journey.
Perhaps the only thing harder than coordinating work for EPCRA Tier II reports is having to do it from home. But deadlines are deadlines, and the pandemic is still a pandemic. Which means environmental compliance teams could be working remotely this Tier II season more than they normally would.
Don’t panic if your team is one of them, though.
While not everyone involved in EPCRA Tier II reporting is equipped to work from home, many of us have been doing it now for months. (Encamp’s workforce has gone entirely remote because of the Covid-19 threat.) And if your team was distributed across facilities before the pandemic, you likely have a remote framework already in place. So for Tier II prep, it could just mean channeling more of your communications and legwork into the virtual process.
If you don’t already use the following work-at-home tools and best practices, consider implementing them. Especially this year, they might be your best friends for Tier II compliance. If you haven’t already, check out our COVID checklist for teams working remotely.
Rule #1 for a dispersed compliance team. Get everyone on the same path, both as an online workgroup and as integrated contributors. Then, emphasize collaboration to the nth degree. Even when final reports fall to one or two people, EPCRA Tier II reporting is a group process — from an EHS director to any specialist who gathers and verifies data.
Within a Tier II workflow, every person should know what’s expected by way of their role, local and federal regulations, scheduled tasks, and deadlines. Particularly for a remote team, checklists and playbooks (or processes) provide structure and serve as guardrails to keep everyone going in the right direction. Such tools can further help ensure reporting accuracy by keeping details from slipping through the cracks.
Tools like playbooks are also easy to create as your team determines Tier II tasks and assignments — “easy” meaning “don’t overthink them.” Once tasks are discussed and solidified, organize them in a shared document accessible to everyone on the team. The document then becomes your playbook, and remote compliance teams should create as many of them as necessary for Tier II efforts.
By clarifying roles and tasks this way, dispersed team members can work collaboratively, yet independently. The team can also be more proactive, as opposed to reacting to issues that haven’t been thought through. You know, no winging it.
Even online, meeting regularly throughout the Tier II reporting process serves as another collaboration guardrail. It also makes for proactive communications, which are invaluable when an EHS team is working remotely.
Meet on-demand. When something needs to be done or resolved right now, an always-on video connection works best.
Weekly status and planning meetings. Mondays recommended. Regularly scheduled times preferred. Discuss what’s been done and what must be accomplished for the week. Call it a weekly sprint.
Daily standup meetings. Over-communication? Maybe so. But if you’ve ever been involved in a Tier II reporting effort, you know things change constantly. As a team, simply take a few minutes every day to stay caught up. It helps everyone address issues before they become problems.
Standups also have a social aspect for a remote team. Sometimes people just want to say hello and see how everybody’s doing.
A reminder first that we’re all human, and that technology will never replace in-person interactions. But for remote teams, video apps are the best alternative for obvious reasons: Interacting on a video call is more interpersonal than email and messaging. We’re able to get our thoughts across directly. We can pick up on the other person’s nonverbal cues and expressions. And we open the door to exchanging thoughts, sharing knowledge, and generally interacting in real time, especially in groups.
Mostly however, in the madness of preparing for EPCRA Tier II, an on-demand video connection and being able to communicate face-to-face is a must.
Although some EHS compliance teams have Tier II reporting down to a science, the process isn’t typically a precise one. Yes, there are reporting deadlines to meet. And meeting them is extremely critical. But another part of being human is that we often accomplish different tasks in different ways — and working remotely only heightens this “independence.” Figuring out what works best for each person on your team therefore becomes more important.
The Tier II process is a journey; as a result, one idea is to break the process into goals for each specialist and set deadlines for each goal. Then, let that person go about achieving the goal the best way they know how. The approach also lets each member of the team set a work-at-home path that’s most comfortable for them, which can actually make them more productive.
Of course, team members should abide by playbooks and checklists when you have them. But on the Tier II path overall, making it a path of achievable steps better accommodates different work styles.
For EPCRA Tier II reporting, just think of all the spreadsheets and forms and records that need to be reviewed and verified. This makes document sharing yet another vital guardrail for collaboration among an EHS compliance team working remotely. The first key is having an effective document storage hub in place. The second is creating an environment in which all remote users can access, review, and edit documents as a group.
Encamp works with several compliance teams who use database apps like SAP or Salesforce for document management. Internally, we use Notion to manage our datasets and customer info — although we rely more heavily on Encamp’s environmental compliance management software to help customers organize their data for Tier II reporting. (More on our app in a minute…)
Beyond Notion, apps like Google Docs, Paper, Quip, and Coda are also good apps for Tier II doc sharing. And while ProofHub is more of an overall project management software, it includes an online proofing tool to review and proof files. ProofHub additionally integrates with other apps like Google Drive, OneDrive, Dropbox, Box to bring all documents together in one place.
Ok, shameless plug here. Encamp’s platform and EPCRA module for Tier II reporting lets a compliance team work entirely remotely. From wherever your specialists are, you centralize compliance information with profiles for every facility and a 50-state aware compliance tracker. Compliance applicability for each facility is determined automatically.
To get every team member on the same path and keep reporting on track, you do it via the Encamp Tier II Dashboard. Compliance calendars and tasks and reminders lend structure to your remote team and let you establish goals per team members. Integrating workflows for state fields from the EPA, NOAA, and all 50 states, plus calculations to confirm TPQs and EHSs, basically creates a Tier II playbook for you.
And in simplifying EPCRA Tier II and other EHS reporting, you get intelligent forms and an automated reporting and submission process. Encamp additionally lets you maintain, share and review audit-ready records and compliance docs in one place.
The Encamp platform for EHS consultants is a single portal to automate and streamline EPCRA Tier II reporting for all your clients’ facilities, in all 50 states. As a reporting system, you get a first-of-its-kind solution designed entirely from a consultant’s perspective. As an intelligent platform, it’s the same technology that’s made Encamp a leader in the environmental compliance industry.
And as a cloud-based Software as a Service (SaaS) offering with no software to install, you get going in days, work from anywhere, and realize incredibly fast time to value.
Since Encamp started in 2017, we’ve been empowering EHS professionals to focus on EHS performance, not EHS paperwork. We do it with the first modern, end-to-end compliance platform for EHS professionals, which makes EHS compliance faster, easier, and more accurate. You then make your co-workers and community safer, and make your company a better steward of the environment.
By the numbers, Encamp has become the largest third-party filer of EPCRA Tier II reports in the country. We’re also closing in on 200 customers (and counting), currently manage more than 3,000 of their facilities, and have tracked more than 20,000 compliance dates, to date.
We’ve even had nearly 3,300 trees planted through the One Tree Planted environmental charity — one tree for each compliance report we’ve filed for our customers thus far.
Visit us at www.encamp.com to read more, watch more, request a demo, and start simplifying your Tier II reporting.
No question. EPCRA Tier II season and reporting for environmental compliance is nerve-wracking. And the stress comes from all directions — starting with understanding regulations themselves. “Do they even apply to my facility?”
Unfortunately, there’s no magic genie in a bottle for EPCRA Tier II reporting. But some helpful resources can help you navigate the process. We zeroed in on 10 such resources, including several important ones from the EPA. We’ve also listed a few of our own. Encamp is the largest third-party filer of EPCRA Tier II reports in the country, after all. So you can say our resources stem from experience.
Here are the 10 helpful resources we came up with.
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) | EPCRA Tier II Forms and Instructions
Start with the EPCRA Tier II Emergency and Hazardous Chemical Inventory Form itself. Then see the instructions on how to complete the form. They’re the goldmine on this web page. The page also links to the Confidential Location Information Form for Tier II Emergency and Hazardous Chemical Inventory information (by chemical). A fact sheet for Safety Data Sheets (SDSs) is equally helpful. (Note the fact sheet’s OSHA Physical and Health Hazard Classes and Tier II Reporting.)
For information on EPCRA Section 313 Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) reporting, use this Forms and Instructions page to access the EPA’s page on Reporting for TRI Facilities.
EPA | Resources and Guidance Documents for Compliance Assistance
The EPA’s compliance assistance program helps businesses in their efforts to meet environmental regulatory requirements. (The program is also for federal facilities, local governments and tribes.) Assistance tools and methods include online resource centers, fact sheets, and guides. Training for the following compliance categories is additionally available.
Encamp’s Tier II Guide | eBook
This free Practical Guide eBook covers the who, what, why, when and how of environmental compliance and reporting. And it does so in a way that’s straightforward and helpful. You know, practical. Sections are both well-defined and easy to understand. Better, this guide steps you through the EPCRA Tier II process beginning to end.
The Tier II Guide was written by Megan Walters, Encamp’s VP of Compliance and Customer Success. Megan is a Certified Hazardous Materials Manager (CHMM) and a Certified Environmental and Safety Compliance Officer® (CESCO). She’s also an EHSMS Internal Auditor. Some of Encamp’s other compliance experts also pitched in. Collectively, you get the knowledge of a group that has filed hundreds of Tier II reports.
EPCRA Applicability Flowchart | 1-page chart
Think of this flowchart as an EPCRA Tier II reporting roadmap. By state, it even takes you to the county and city level. If EPCRA applies to your facility and its location, the flowchart helps you verify it. If it doesn’t, you can verify that, too. Use the flowchart as the prerequisite resource for Encamp’s Ultimate Checklist for Tier II Reporting.
The Ultimate Checklist for Tier II Reporting | 1-page checklist
Use this checklist to track key deliverables as you complete them for EPCRA Tier II reports. You also make sure you don’t overlook anything during reporting prep. And coming from Encamp’s own compliance experts — did we mention they’ve collectively filed hundreds of Tier II reports? — this checklist is thorough.
EHS Daily Advisor | industry website
The EHS Daily Advisor site is an absolute encyclopedia for EPCRA Tier II and environmental compliance issues. Note especially the News section and its pages for EHS Management; Enforcement and Inspection; Regulatory Developments; and even Chemicals. If there’s an update or news for reporting and related issues, it usually lands on one of these pages.
The site’s Multimedia and Free Resources sections are also good info repositories. Check out the infographics on EPCRA Tier II and other reporting requirements from EHS Daily Advisor Staff. The staff’s archived podcasts on the Podcast page are also worth a listen.
Environment + Energy Leader | industry website
The E + E Leader site features “news and research impacting the environment and sectors for energy and sustainability.” In the site’s Resource Hub, there are two helpful pages in particular. On the site’s EHS&S page, see the Reporting section for news on environmental reporting, requirements, data management and EHS software. The Compliance page in the Resource Hub also includes the latest news for environment and energy policy, regulatory issues, standards, compliance, and enforcement.
EHS Today | industry website
The sections for Standards and Environment are two repositories to bookmark on the EHS Today site. The Standards page hosts the latest news and updates for EPA, OSHA, and other regulatory concerns. Likewise, the Environment page has coverage for environmental regulations, sustainability, waste management and more. Both pages offer on-demand webinars, white papers, infographics and similar tools from contributing authors and businesses throughout the EHS industry.
Quiz: Test Your Tier II Knowledge | blog
We found this quiz in a January 2019 blog from Triumvirate Environmental. Even though it’s two years old, most of the details still apply to EPCRA Tier II reporting for 2021. The quiz is eight questions, all multiple choice, and takes less than a minute to complete. While we’ve included it for fun, it does tell you what you know — and don’t know — about some of the basics of Tier II reporting.
To date, Encamp has worked with nearly 200 businesses to manage close to 4,000 of their facilities and track over 20,000 compliance dates. As a third-party filer of EPCRA Tier II reports, these numbers make us the largest such filer in the country.
More than that, with a modern, end-to-end compliance platform that makes Tier II reporting and environmental compliance faster, easier, and more accurate, we empower EHS professionals to focus on EHS performance — not paperwork.
So, EHS compliance management has some new technology friends. The cloud. Software as a Service (SaaS). EHS digital transformation. They’re all “new” EHS solutions for things like environmental compliance, and their compatibility is showing up in the form of automation, digital data, more efficient reporting processes, and smarter ways of working and solving problems.
In regulated industries of all kinds, organizations and their EHS compliance teams are taking notice.
As EHS solutions go, EHS operations are learning SaaS is a mature technology that’s been widely adopted because of its simplicity and versatility: An organization can implement a SaaS solution in days and quickly deploy it to distributed locations and facilities. Users on EHS teams can work from anywhere on any device, and automatically get the latest app releases and use the newest functionality. To control costs, the organization pays for SaaS on a managed-cost subscription basis per user or workgroup.
Businesses are also discovering the possibilities of digital transformation for EHS compliance management. As we said in our related blogs (see links below), they’re finding out this EHS digital transformation and its cloud computing framework can help them solve problems in creative new ways using new EHS solutions that drive digital data.
The next step for an organization is finding a technology vendor who can help it bring compliance management, the cloud and EHS digital transformation together. A partner who continues to redefine EHS solutions through industry knowledge, thought leadership, and innovation
Rule #1: Technology moves forward quickly — and constantly. Rule #2: To help your business get started and steer it through changes, having an established, trusted partnership with a tech vendor is vital. The strongest partnerships are formed when the vendor:
And let’s be honest. How often do effective business partnerships come down to personal aspects? It’s not surprising that shared interests and personalities often carry more influence in building a tech vendor partnership than the actual solution does.
Vendor side, the best tech providers play to their strengths and know their limits. They don’t try to be everything to everybody, and provide the right technology fit by being “simple” and “agile.” Within the EHS compliance management sector, this is why vendors who focus on simplistic cloud technologies like SaaS and the agility of EHS digital transformation are best fits.
Technology itself is inherently innovative, and most tech companies consider themselves to be “innovative.” So that part of the scale is a wash. The more important thing is whether you partner with a vendor whose technology roadmap leads your organization to its own innovation success.
Ironically, the innovation strategies of an organization often depend on vendor products that are still in the invention stage or still evolving themselves. We’ll say it again. Technology moves forward quickly and constantly, which makes it vital to always know what a strategic tech partner is developing.
If the tech company isn’t gigantic and full of red tape, chances are also good your organization has direct access to the developers who created the solution you use. This translates both to a more direct line of support and often to a suggestion box for new functionality. If users see something that might add value to a solution, their suggestions can many times lead to the development of new features. As far as innovation goes, this is practical and collaborative inventiveness at its finest.
Just don’t be an organization whose procurement processes (and politics) inhibit an innovation partnership with a tech vendor. It can distract from a mindset that could drive truly valuable advances in your business’s technology solutions.
Final word here. You should have the utmost confidence in any technology company and its leaders and people. Substantiate the company’s reputation and its breadth and depth of experience. Read industry reviews, customer case studies, and talk to customers whose situation is similar to yours. After all, trust and transparency are the underlying keys to building a successful partnership and then maintaining it.
A tech company’s stability matters, too. What do you know about how they started and their journey? Their philosophy? Do you have visibility of who the shareholders or investors are and the company’s financial standing? Are you confident they’ll still be around in 5 years? Do your homework and ask questions.
“Encamp CEO Luke Jacobs spent years working with Fortune 10 companies to streamline their environmental compliance programs. To streamline the compliance process, he wrote software that increased accuracy, ensured environmental compliance, and boosted efficiency by cutting out costly and repetitive tasks. He understood the inefficiencies and gaps in current EHS solutions and knew that companies deserved better…
“At High Alpha, we believe that in spaces with known rules and parameters, software will outperform and underprice human competition. Regulatory compliance, monitoring, and management lend itself well to augmentation and automation via cloud solutions … Encamp has become the largest third-party filer of EPCRA Tier II reporting in the country because of this.”
Innovation for EHS operations and environmental compliance isn’t just about implementing enhanced technology like the cloud and Software as a Service (SaaS). At this point, it’s about automation and digital agility, process efficiency, and smarter ways of working and solving problems. All of which are marks of digital transformation, or what we’ll call EHS digital transformation.
And right now, with SaaS and innovative new software for compliance management and reporting, the EHS industry is moving more squarely into the crosshairs of an EHS digital transformation than it ever has. (Some in the industry have termed this EHS 4.0.)
Yet being in the crosshairs is one thing. Changing the mindset of how things have “always been done” is another.
In EHS and compliance reporting terms, such a mindset means lots of spreadsheets and copy-paste work.
But some people are just creatures of habit, right? So don’t mess with their routine.
In tech adoption circles, this is nothing new. The role innovation plays in any organization has always required new mindsets. Or at least open minds, which the EHS sector is slowly accepting. Particularly in an EHS digital transformation strategy, companies and their EHS teams must be willing to try new technologies and tools and processes — and then actually use them. Call it engagement overcoming resistance. (SaaS faced the same resistance more than 20 years when it first launched.)
Younger generations get this. They’ve been raised on technology and mobile devices and can’t wait for the next big thing. Older generations, however? They might still need convincing. As users who sometimes don’t take to new technology willingly, the trick is letting these older generations see how much easier it makes their workday. Which is where EHS digital transformation makes an impact.
First, ask the question: Do you really enjoy using spreadsheets and 10 different systems to manage data? No. The process is disjointed and tedious. It’s time consuming.
So what if your EHS operations adopted a SaaS end-to-end platform for compliance and reporting and put automation to work? You could create digital replicas of every spreadsheet and make data input and output intuitive and fast. No more copy-paste, and no more spreadsheets for that matter.
Collecting new data would also become a real-time function. Just think. With critical data for EPCRA and RCRA requirements, Tier II reports, incident reports and so on always at your fingertips, you could establish historical EHS compliance trends automatically.
The improvement for reporting forms and submissions — for all 50 states — could be similar. But again, first consider the hurdles. Namely, the biggest hurdles are state and local agencies that have their own non-standardized portals and inconsistent reporting forms and procedures. No stress, though. Your end-to-end compliance platform houses the forms and tells you when they’re due, in what format, and exactly where and how to submit them.
EHS reporting processes are streamlined, because SaaS, your compliance platform and EHS digital transformation all work together to compliment them.
Organizations create a culture. They establish an environment for the technologies that best suit their business. But mindsets can be hard to change. For many EHS compliance teams, they aren’t just in the crosshairs of technology and EHS digital transformation… they’re at an organizational crossroads of change itself.
(According to a 2020 Pulse Survey of executives by Harvard Business Review Analytic Services, 63% of respondents ranked “cultural challenges” in their organization as the biggest impediment to digital transformation efforts.)
Especially for the adoption of EHS digital transformation in an organization, the wave of change must start at the top. In fact, leaders at the executive level of many companies are already altering how they view compliance technology initiatives — how to fund them, plan them, implement them, and measure their success.
Also to their significant credit, more companies are elevating EHS compliance programs (and their underlying technologies) all the way to a Board of Directors level for guidance. Hexion, which is known for its Responsible Chemistries, is one example. (Disclosure. Hexion is an Encamp client.)
In 2019, Hexion recognized that its “environmental, health and safety performance is vitally important to the value and long-term success of our businesses.” So they created an Environmental, Health and Safety Committee as an extension of their board. Now, the committee embeds EHS champions in business teams and functions to “facilitate the integration of life-cycle thinking” across their operations.” Kudos, Hexion.
It’s said that people, and not technology, drive the pursuit of innovation. Effective leaders understand this “end-user era” and making work lives easier for their employees. They create a culture conducive to new and creative thinking, with innovation fostered by workers on the front lines. Good leaders also know when to get out of the way.
These three guidelines apply to any initiative for innovation. But their timing is particularly useful for cloud technologies, SaaS, EHS digital transformation, and compliance management.
Just as critical as executive leadership is getting the right talent in place to lead innovation efforts at the development level. “Talent” means persons having both the right skills and the mindset to move innovation agendas forward. This is where EHS champions come in.
Realistically, most persons on EHS teams aren’t usually tasked with deciding innovation initiatives. EHS managers and specialists might lend input, although technology investment decisions are typically made at the director and executive levels. However, many front-line EHS workers do have technical knowledge, problem-solving skills and communications skills that can apply to a final call.
Tops among these ways is to empower EHS staff by expanding their decision-making authority. You know, allow them to determine when to introduce a new SaaS tool or EHS digital transformation process and decide which users should test it. When a company does take this route, it’s important reduce risk aversion by supporting failures and successes alike.
“To promote innovation, encouraging risk in a controlled environment, and making mistakes, is a good thing.” “Failure is a necessary part of the innovation process, because from failure comes learning, iteration, and the adoption of new concepts.” “Almost all innovations are the result of learning from failures.”
We could go on. But the one sure thing about adopting new technologies is that it requires testing new ideas… and taking risks. It requires a culture — and a collective mindset — that accepts failure as readily as success. As organizations estimate their investment toward innovation, they must weigh associated risks accordingly. To then keep risks in check, they must test new ideas and technologies rigorously. SaaS and EHS digital transformation enable organizations and their EHS teams to do this.
*^%$*#! spreadsheets! There, we said it. We’ll also say this. For EHS operations and environmental compliance, digital transformation and technologies like Software as a Service (SaaS) are a good thing.
If you’ve worked in environmental compliance circles very long, you know the disdain for spreadsheets. And binders full of paper. And the endless manual labor just to gather data, organize it, and try to make sense of it for EPCRA Tier II reports and submissions.
“It’s how we’ve always done compliance reports…”
Which is ironic. Because for years now, enterprises have used software tools for everything from ERP and CRM to accounting, collaboration, HR, strategic planning, business intelligence and analytics.
Managing EHS operations and environmental compliance using advanced technology just hasn’t reached the same level of mainstream adoption. At least not yet.
In the menu of everyday business apps, we think of tools like SAP, Salesforce, TurboTax, Zoom, Slack, Workday, and Microsoft Office 365. These tools are all courtesy of cloud technologies and application solutions led by SaaS.
SaaS has been around since the early 2000s. In tech terms it’s a “mature” technology, meaning it’s been honed, well tested and widely adopted. The draw for SaaS is both its simplicity and its versatility.
Simple: The only thing users need to access SaaS applications is an Internet connection and a web browser. Enterprises typically pay for the service and the apps they use on a managed-cost subscription basis, per user or workgroup.
Versatile: With SaaS, users can work from anywhere on any device, and organizations can scale to locations around the world. Security for users, networks, and data is also unparalleled. These virtual capabilities come from the cloud architecture on which SaaS is built.
Better, any updates and fixes to an application are made by the app’s developer and then filtered down to users via the SaaS provider. So automatically, users constantly get the latest app release, use the newest functionality, and never pay for any of the back-end development and testing that goes into the upgrades.
This makes SaaS the predominant solution for enterprises to capitalize on applications for business. Yet for as long as SaaS has been around, EHS has just come to the party in the last few years.
Back on the technology timeline, cloud based EHS compliance management is therefore still carving out its marketplace. The good news is, however, with SaaS in the equation, it’s emerging on a proven technology platform.
And as it does, it’s creating a powerful new path to tools like automation and digitized data. A path of digital transformation — which streamlines the process for managing EHS operations and environmental compliance, and makes reporting more efficient, more consistent, more accurate and more reliable.
For EHS teams everywhere, it’s time to finally get
on this new path of digital transformation.
Many companies turn to the cloud because of the automation, efficiency, security, and managed cost savings it provides. SaaS is a leading example. Also as a global phenomenon, the cloud has long enabled multi-site organizations to connect locations and facilities on the same platform. There are no siloed hardware systems to piece together with the hope they all work in unison.
As a computing environment, many companies additionally use the cloud to support innovation and initiatives such as digital transformation, or DT. In simple terms, DT is a “fast and frequently changing digital technology to solve problems,” and cloud computing is a core component.
Via the cloud, organizations access applications, data, analytics, and other advanced digital functionality for problem-solving of most any kind. Think of DT as providing the framework in which an organization can then use these tools to create innovative new processes.
Another advantage of the cloud is that businesses deploy new applications and processes quickly. Go back to bypassing piecemealed hardware systems; a cloud architecture provides a central IT environment made to launch new functionality in a relatively short time frame.
Depending on geographic scope, user administration, amounts of data to be imported and so on, most cloud platforms can be implemented in a matter of days or weeks. And not just implemented but performing as needed.
Consider, an organization’s EHS team could rapidly deploy functionality at a new facility for EPCRA, RCRA and other Tier II reporting requirements. Or they could do it for reporting at various locations in line with the requirements from all 50 states. Add the aspects of digital transformation technology and automation, and the efficiency gains for EHS professionals and compliance teams would be both immediate and significant.
Business users exposed to SaaS-based tools and digital transformation approaches work in ways that are simple and intuitive rather than manual and labor intensive. Not surprisingly, in fact, when businesses do incorporate these tools, frontline users are often the ones who specify needed functionality (not necessarily applications).
Another environmental compliance example: Say an organization moves an inventory of regulated chemicals from one facility to another. Different state, different compliance and reporting requirements. An EHS team member must likely do a walkthrough of the facility now housing the chemicals and manually verify inventory counts and thresholds using a spreadsheet and a clipboard.
“It’s how we’ve always done it.”
But what if the inventory data already lived in a system structured on a cloud-based platform? The system could consolidate this information across every facility and state in your organization. It could even create site-specific compliance profiles for each location.
Automatically, EHS staff could then get the updated compliance applicability and view all details in a single all-inclusive dashboard. And if a walkthrough is still needed at the facility, the team member does it using a mobile or wearable device, not a spreadsheet and a clipboard.
The future of EHS compliance management is here. It’s cloud technologies like SaaS and the digital transformation converging on a modern end-to-end platform. And it’s time to adopt it.