The Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know ActEPCRA — was passed in 1986 in response to chemical-related safety and environmental concerns in communities throughout the U.S. Specifically, the concerns stemmed from hazardous chemicals stored and handled in facilities located in these local communities. 

EPCRA in simple terms

Since 2018, Encamp’s Tier II Reporting software for section 312 EPCRA compliance has made us the EHS industry’s largest third-party filer of Tier II reports. Compliance reporting is also one of the critical steps in Encamp’s Guided Environmental Compliance method that integrates digital technology into compliance program areas to centralize information, make data more visible, and build a continuous and auditable process for EHS operations. This guided method also blends Encamp’s high-tech software with the high-touch support of our compliance experts, who know the in’s and out’s of EPCRA and its sections that set regulatory provisions for regulated facilities within a local jurisdiction.

Yet given the complexities of EPCRA, we get questions about it virtually every day. Especially for Tier II and reporting, here’s what you should know about EPCRA… in simple terms. Call it our way of helping you and your EHS team avoid the common reporting errors we see companies make every year in their Tier II filings. 

Glossary

Why is the “Community-Right-to Know” section of EPCRA so important?

Community Right-to-Know provisions help increase the public’s knowledge and access to information on chemicals stored at individual facilities, their uses, and releases into the environment. States and communities, working with facilities, use the information to improve chemical safety and protect public health and the environment.

SERC, TERC and LEPC roles

Gotta love all the acronyms, right? At the state level is a State Emergency Response Commission (SERC), or where applicable, a Tribal Emergency Response Commission (TERC). A Local Emergency Planning Committee (LEPC) resides on the local level in each community within a state.

The duties of SERCs and TERCs

The SERC supervises and coordinates the activities of the LEPC, establishes procedures for receiving and processing public requests for information collected under EPCRA, and reviews local emergency response plans. In regards to TERCs, the Chief Executive Office of the Tribe appoints the commission’s members; TERCs have the same responsibilities as SERCs.

What LEPCs do

LEPCs are composed of local officials including police, fire, civil defense, public health, transportation, and environmental professionals. Also serving on these committees are representatives of facilities subject to the emergency planning requirements, as well as community groups and the media. LEPCs must develop an emergency response plan, review it annually (at a minimum), and provide information about chemicals stored or used in the community to local citizens.

EPCRA sections and their four key provisions

EPCRA entails four core responsibilities for chemical use and storage, classified by sections. These sections apply to all regulated facilities within a local jurisdiction.

A fifth EPCRA section is section 322, Trade Secrets. For companies that wish to claim trade secrets for chemicals reported under EPCRA, EPA requires a facility to submit a substantiation to justify the claim of trade secrecy as specified in Title 40 of the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR), parts 350 to 372. The section 322 form has four parts:

See EPA’s EPCRA website for more in-depth sections information, frequently asked questions, and guidance documents.

Tier II falls under EPCRA section 312 

Tier II reporting is housed under EPCRA section 312. For regulated facilities, the requirements of this section dictate that facilities submit an annual inventory of hazardous chemicals onsite that surpass a stated quantity threshold. Thresholds are federally mandated, but can be superseded by state or local requirements. Chemical inventories are submitted to the facility’s SERC (or TERC), LEPC, and local fire department.

Section requirements in more detail

Sections 301-303, Emergency Response plan guidelines 

LEPCs are tasked with emergency response planning and notification for their communities, which directly involves the facility that stores extremely hazardous substances. You must comply if your facility meets the following conditions:

  1. Any EHS is present in an amount equal to or greater than its threshold planning quantity (TPQ).
  2. Has been designated for emergency planning purposes, after public notice and opportunity for comment, by the SERC, State Governor, or the Chief Executive Officer of the Tribe for the Indian Tribe under whose jurisdiction your facility is located

Emergency Response plans contain information that community officials can use at the time of a chemical accident.

A response plan report must include:

  1. Emergency planning notification
  2. A designated facility emergency coordinator
  3. Changes relevant to emergency planning
  4. Requested information if the LEPC requests it

Section 304, emergency notification guidelines

Emergency notification reports must be submitted immediately to officials at both the local (LEPC) and state (SERC, TERC) levels whenever a facility accidentally releases hazardous substances and/or EHSs. 

Substances include any of the EPA’s listed types of chemicals in an amount equal to or greater than its reportable quantity.

Regulated chemicals include ammonia and hydrogen peroxide and any substance in Appendix A of the EPA hazardous substances list, or formaldehyde, nicotine, and any substance included in Appendix B.

An emergency notification report must include:

  1. The chemical name
  2. An indication of whether the substance is extremely hazardous
  3. An estimate of the quantity released into the environment
  4. The time and duration of the release
  5. Whether the release occurred into air, water, and/or land
  6. Any known or anticipated acute or chronic health risks associated with the emergency, and where necessary, advice regarding medical attention for exposed individuals
  7. Proper precautions, such as evacuation or sheltering in place
  8. Name and telephone number of contact person

Sections 311-312, thresholds and reporting requirements

Again, Tier II reporting is a section 312 requirement. Per Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) regulations, facilities must maintain an MSDS or SDS for any hazardous chemical used or stored in the workplace. 

Regulated chemicals:

Note that these guidelines apply at the federal level. States may have a lower threshold.

  1. EHSs listed in Appendix A and Appendix B with a TPQ of 500 lbs or less
  2. Gasoline at a retail gas station, with a threshold level of 75,000 gallons
  3. Diesel fuel at a retail gas station, with a threshold level of 100,000 gallons
  4. All other hazardous chemicals with a TPQ of 10,000 pounds.

A Tier II report must include:

  1. The chemical name or the common name as indicated on the MSDS or SDS
  2. An estimate of the maximum amount of the chemical present at any time during the preceding calendar year and the average daily amount
  3. A brief description of the manner of storage of the chemical
  4. The location of the chemical at the facility
  5. An indication of whether the owner of the facility elects to withhold location information from disclosure to the public

Section 313, Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) guidelines

As a mandatory program for toxic chemical releases and pollution prevention activities reported by industrial and federal facilities, TRI typically applies to larger facilities involved in manufacturing, chemical manufacturing, or hazardous waste treatment. Currently, more than 21,000 facilities around the U.S. are subject to TRI requirements, which is determined by your facility’s NAICS Code, number of full-time employees, and chemical thresholds. 

Verify if your facility is a TRI-covered industry

In all, TRI examines wastewater discharges, air emissions through stacks, air flow through doors and windows (fugitive air release), off-site transfer of waste or by-products to landfills or recycling facilities, and surface water discharge like storm water. TRI reports are due annually on July 1st.

Regulated chemicals:

Chemicals covered by the TRI program are those that cause cancer or other chronic human health effects, significant adverse acute human health effects, and significant adverse environmental effects. See TRI chemical changes as of January 2022.

Additional EPA resources

List of Lists

Updated Tier II forms and instructions

State-specific Tier II reporting instructions and procedures

Important schedules and due dates

Note that these are federal schedules. For sections 302 and 304, states may have more stringent timelines.

Transforming the way enterprises stay in compliance 

Encamp is on a mission to create a world where good for business can equal good for the environment. We help enterprises transform compliance programs and human processes into a technology-driven system that lays the foundation for accurate and ongoing environmental compliance through a blended method of intelligent high-tech solutions and high-touch expert support.

In November 2021, EPA enacted various additions and amendments for EPCRA and environmental compliance regulations that impacted Tier II submissions for reporting year (RY) 2021. In certain cases (and states), these changes will also impact Tier II reports for RY2022. It’s vital to therefore keep up with EPA changes like the ones that follow, and the compliance experts at Encamp are here to help you do just that.

EPA regulatory changes as of November 2021

Of the EPA changes that took effect in November 2021, these will help EHS teams and environmental professionals as they start preparing for RY2022.

EPA Enforcement Alert

To address growing concerns about chemical storage, EPA issued an Enforcement Alert last November on the Risks of Improper Storage of Hazardous Chemicals at Chemical Warehouses and Distribution Facilities. Key compliance concerns noted in the Alert include:

Among these concerns, we’ll add that even when Safety Data Sheets are submitted, they’re often out of date and don’t meet OSHA’s modified Hazard Communication Standard (HCS) to conform to the United Nations’ Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals (GHS). This SDS issue is one of the most common Tier II reporting errors we see each year at Encamp.

Tier2 Submit 2021 

The Tier2 Submit software is developed by EPA. If the state in which your facility is located requires you to use this software for Tier II report submissions, you must download the newest version for each reporting year. (For RY2021, the Tier2 Submit 2021 version was released in December 2021.) You can download the software directly from the EPA’s Tier2 Submit web page; typically, the latest release becomes generally available each December for the forthcoming reporting year. 

According to NOAA, here were some of the more noteworthy changes in Tier2 Submit 2021, which will be included in the 2022 release along with other potential updates:

New Texas Tier II rules 

In November 2020, Texas updated its Tier II rules (now found in 30 TAC 325) to include additional obligations for facilities. These rules were in effect for RY2021 and should remain so for 2022. Of note:

Vermont LEPC consolidation for Tier II reporting

In July 2021, Vermont consolidated its 13 LEPCs into a single state-wide LEPC. For RY2021, all Vermont Tier II reports were to be submitted to this single LEPC, regardless of where facilities are located. This process will be the same for RY2022.

New Tier II portals

Beginning with the RY2020 reporting season, both Missouri and North Dakota transitioned to new reporting systems. Learn more about these two state portals and using them for RY2022.

(We’ll alert you to changes in any other state reporting portals for RY2022.)

What’s on the horizon?

To prepare for compliance reporting years beyond RY2021, EPA is exploring implementing a rule that would provide exemptions for certain materials historically required to be included on Tier II reports. This could include substances such as sand, gravel, and rock salt, as well as any other substances a facility determines would pose minimal hazards and minimal risks. Stay tuned as we share any new developments.

Transforming the way enterprises stay in compliance 

Encamp is on a mission to create a world where good for business can equal good for the environment. We help enterprises transform compliance programs and human processes into a technology-driven system that lays the foundation for accurate and ongoing environmental compliance through a blended method of intelligent high-tech solutions and high-touch expert support.

The Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know ActEPCRA — was passed in 1986 in response to chemical-related safety and environmental concerns in communities throughout the U.S. Specifically, the concerns stemmed from hazardous chemicals stored and handled in facilities located in these local communities. 

EPCRA in simple terms

Since 2018, Encamp’s Tier II Reporting software for section 312 EPCRA compliance has made us the EHS industry’s largest third-party filer of Tier II reports. Compliance reporting is also one of the critical steps in Encamp’s Guided Environmental Compliance method that integrates digital technology into compliance program areas to centralize information, make data more visible, and build a continuous and auditable process for EHS operations. This guided method also blends Encamp’s high-tech software with the high-touch support of our compliance experts, who know the in’s and out’s of EPCRA and its sections that set regulatory provisions for regulated facilities within a local jurisdiction.

Yet given the complexities of EPCRA, we get questions about it virtually every day. Especially for Tier II and reporting, here’s what you should know about EPCRA… in simple terms. Call it our way of helping you and your EHS team avoid the common reporting errors we see companies make every year in their Tier II filings. 

Glossary

Why is the “Community-Right-to Know” section of EPCRA so important?

Community Right-to-Know provisions help increase the public’s knowledge and access to information on chemicals stored at individual facilities, their uses, and releases into the environment. States and communities, working with facilities, use the information to improve chemical safety and protect public health and the environment.

SERC, TERC and LEPC roles

Gotta love all the acronyms, right? At the state level is a State Emergency Response Commission (SERC), or where applicable, a Tribal Emergency Response Commission (TERC). A Local Emergency Planning Committee (LEPC) resides on the local level in each community within a state.

The duties of SERCs and TERCs

The SERC supervises and coordinates the activities of the LEPC, establishes procedures for receiving and processing public requests for information collected under EPCRA, and reviews local emergency response plans. In regards to TERCs, the Chief Executive Office of the Tribe appoints the commission’s members; TERCs have the same responsibilities as SERCs.

What LEPCs do

LEPCs are composed of local officials including police, fire, civil defense, public health, transportation, and environmental professionals. Also serving on these committees are representatives of facilities subject to the emergency planning requirements, as well as community groups and the media. LEPCs must develop an emergency response plan, review it annually (at a minimum), and provide information about chemicals stored or used in the community to local citizens.

EPCRA sections and their four key provisions

EPCRA entails four core responsibilities for chemical use and storage, classified by sections. These sections apply to all regulated facilities within a local jurisdiction.

A fifth EPCRA section is section 322, Trade Secrets. For companies that wish to claim trade secrets for chemicals reported under EPCRA, EPA requires a facility to submit a substantiation to justify the claim of trade secrecy as specified in Title 40 of the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR), parts 350 to 372. The section 322 form has four parts:

See EPA’s EPCRA website for more in-depth sections information, frequently asked questions, and guidance documents.

Tier II falls under EPCRA section 312 

Tier II reporting is housed under EPCRA section 312. For regulated facilities, the requirements of this section dictate that facilities submit an annual inventory of hazardous chemicals onsite that surpass a stated quantity threshold. Thresholds are federally mandated, but can be superseded by state or local requirements. Chemical inventories are submitted to the facility’s SERC (or TERC), LEPC, and local fire department.

Section requirements in more detail

Sections 301-303, Emergency Response plan guidelines 

LEPCs are tasked with emergency response planning and notification for their communities, which directly involves the facility that stores extremely hazardous substances. You must comply if your facility meets the following conditions:

  1. Any EHS is present in an amount equal to or greater than its threshold planning quantity (TPQ).
  2. Has been designated for emergency planning purposes, after public notice and opportunity for comment, by the SERC, State Governor, or the Chief Executive Officer of the Tribe for the Indian Tribe under whose jurisdiction your facility is located

Emergency Response plans contain information that community officials can use at the time of a chemical accident.

A response plan report must include:

  1. Emergency planning notification
  2. A designated facility emergency coordinator
  3. Changes relevant to emergency planning
  4. Requested information if the LEPC requests it

Section 304, emergency notification guidelines

Emergency notification reports must be submitted immediately to officials at both the local (LEPC) and state (SERC, TERC) levels whenever a facility accidentally releases hazardous substances and/or EHSs. 

Substances include any of the EPA’s listed types of chemicals in an amount equal to or greater than its reportable quantity.

Regulated chemicals include ammonia and hydrogen peroxide and any substance in Appendix A of the EPA hazardous substances list, or formaldehyde, nicotine, and any substance included in Appendix B.

An emergency notification report must include:

  1. The chemical name
  2. An indication of whether the substance is extremely hazardous
  3. An estimate of the quantity released into the environment
  4. The time and duration of the release
  5. Whether the release occurred into air, water, and/or land
  6. Any known or anticipated acute or chronic health risks associated with the emergency, and where necessary, advice regarding medical attention for exposed individuals
  7. Proper precautions, such as evacuation or sheltering in place
  8. Name and telephone number of contact person

Sections 311-312, thresholds and reporting requirements

Again, Tier II reporting is a section 312 requirement. Per Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) regulations, facilities must maintain an MSDS or SDS for any hazardous chemical used or stored in the workplace. 

Regulated chemicals:

Note that these guidelines apply at the federal level. States may have a lower threshold.

  1. EHSs listed in Appendix A and Appendix B with a TPQ of 500 lbs or less
  2. Gasoline at a retail gas station, with a threshold level of 75,000 gallons
  3. Diesel fuel at a retail gas station, with a threshold level of 100,000 gallons
  4. All other hazardous chemicals with a TPQ of 10,000 pounds.

A Tier II report must include:

  1. The chemical name or the common name as indicated on the MSDS or SDS
  2. An estimate of the maximum amount of the chemical present at any time during the preceding calendar year and the average daily amount
  3. A brief description of the manner of storage of the chemical
  4. The location of the chemical at the facility
  5. An indication of whether the owner of the facility elects to withhold location information from disclosure to the public

Section 313, Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) guidelines

As a mandatory program for toxic chemical releases and pollution prevention activities reported by industrial and federal facilities, TRI typically applies to larger facilities involved in manufacturing, chemical manufacturing, or hazardous waste treatment. Currently, more than 21,000 facilities around the U.S. are subject to TRI requirements, which is determined by your facility’s NAICS Code, number of full-time employees, and chemical thresholds. 

Verify if your facility is a TRI-covered industry

In all, TRI examines wastewater discharges, air emissions through stacks, air flow through doors and windows (fugitive air release), off-site transfer of waste or by-products to landfills or recycling facilities, and surface water discharge like storm water. TRI reports are due annually on July 1st.

Regulated chemicals:

Chemicals covered by the TRI program are those that cause cancer or other chronic human health effects, significant adverse acute human health effects, and significant adverse environmental effects. See TRI chemical changes as of January 2022.

Additional EPA resources

List of Lists

Updated Tier II forms and instructions

State-specific Tier II reporting instructions and procedures

Important schedules and due dates

Note that these are federal schedules. For sections 302 and 304, states may have more stringent timelines.

Transforming the way enterprises stay in compliance 

Encamp is on a mission to create a world where good for business can equal good for the environment. We help enterprises transform compliance programs and human processes into a technology-driven system that lays the foundation for accurate and ongoing environmental compliance through a blended method of intelligent high-tech solutions and high-touch expert support.

For most EHS professionals, regulatory environmental compliance reporting is often riddled with ever-evolving state regulations, complex state requirements, and the pressure to build a future-proof, sustainable business.

ehs on tap

 

Encamp CEO and Co-founder Luke Jacobs talks about
the importance of environmental compliance.

Listen in on this episode of the EHS on Tap podcast.

 

For many companies and their EHS teams and Operations staff, building a robust and effective compliance program comes with its own pitfalls. And for such a program, developing it, implementing it, and making sure it’s also sustainable is easier said than done.

You understand that staying in compliance means avoiding costly fines and operational stoppage, but manual and non-standardized processes across your facilities makes accurate and timely compliance reporting harder to achieve.

Sound familiar? 

After spending years as an environmental scientist, Encamp CEO and Co-founder Luke Jacobs knows just how real the struggle is for EHS professionals and organizations to understand and embrace environmental compliance.

To help them understand the complexities of compliance, EHS on Tap recently invited Luke to share his expertise. Tune in to listen to Luke’s expert insights on how to keep your environmental compliance goals on track.

Episode expert advice

“For the first time ever, people are managing their environmental compliance programs from home offices and distributed locations. All of that is really presenting a big challenge, but also a big opportunity for companies to accelerate their digital adoption and transformation. But with that there are all sorts of challenges. Just setting up systems is hard, choosing the right one, there’s training and adoption. All those efforts, if done well and if you pick the right system, are really impactful and have long-term gains.”

Transforming the way enterprises stay in compliance 

Encamp is on a mission to create a world where good for business can equal good for the environment. We help enterprises transform compliance programs and human processes into a technology-driven system that lays the foundation for accurate and ongoing environmental compliance through a blended method of intelligent high-tech solutions and high-touch expert support.

Ask any EHS or Operations manager where Tier II reporting for EPCRA falls on their list of Favorite Things To Do, and they’ll probably tell you, “It doesn’t.”

Fair enough.

Before I came to Encamp, I was an Environmental and Product Safety Manager, and Tier II reporting was never something I looked forward to either. Why? EPCRA regulations to begin with. I had to know if facilities had to report (or not), then coax facility managers for reporting data and hope they could correctly identify chemicals and calculate quantities.

Then it was populating Tier II forms, by state, validating each report to make sure nothing got overlooked, navigating submission portals (by state, again), and paying all the filing fees. 

For any EHS leader, Tier II reporting for 10 or 12 sites is manageable. Even in multiple states. But hundreds or thousands of sites across the country? Good luck. The problem isn’t just finding time to track down data and do reports. It’s making sure every report is complete and accurate, and doesn’t draw the attention of regulators for missing or incorrect information.

It’s the law

Like it or not for EPCRA compliance, Tier II reporting for hazardous chemicals is the law. There’s no legal option to avoid it or not comply. If you run the risk of non-compliance, the consequences can be severe. Think: financial penalties, shutting down a facility, or long-lasting damage to your company’s reputation. 

It’s true that Encamp’s compliance management software really does simplify the Tier II reporting process. It even automates Tier II submissions for you to portals in all 50 states. But for those of us on the Customer Success and Compliance teams at Encamp, we come from environmental compliance backgrounds and know the pressures of submitting reports on time and with consistent levels of accuracy. Therefore, our aim really is to make Tier II reporting easier for you and keep it from disrupting your life for weeks on end.  

From experience — and with empathies for everyone who currently manages Tier II efforts — here are eight tips (categorized accordingly) that can help you survive the trials of Tier II reporting. 

Avoid common environmental compliance oversights

Tip #1: Make sure you have updated and GHS-compliant Safety Data Sheets (SDSs) prior to reporting season.

This is one of the most common errors we see in Tier II reporting every year. In line with the United Nations’ Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals (GHS), OSHA’s Hazard Communication Standard (HCS) requires that any SDS “must be revised within three months after a chemical manufacturer or employer becomes aware of new information concerning the hazards of a chemical.” 

Therefore per EPCRA regulations, make sure each facility required to report includes an updated SDS that meets GHS requirements. EPCRA further mandates that revised SDSs also be submitted to all agencies that have the original SDS. The sooner you do this, the easier the heavy lifting will be for Tier II preparations later on. 

Two other helpful hints: Keep all SDSs in a single location, and minimize your number of suppliers whenever possible.

Tip #2: Confirm (and report) any short-term or seasonal chemicals onsite for projects, cleaning, temporary work, specialty products or R&D purposes.

Another common oversight is chemical data you wouldn’t normally think to capture. EPCRA Section 312 specifies that a business must account for any chemical present at a facility, for any given time during the year, that’s above the threshold planning quantity (TPQ) for an extremely hazardous substance. While a chemical might be onsite for only a short period of time, if it exceeds a state or federal threshold while at the facility, it must be reported. If you don’t, it’s a violation.

Stay aware of local Tier II reporting requirements 

Tip #3: Know when additional City/County reporting requirements apply in states in which you maintain facilities. 

Stay up to date with SERC and LEPC minutes that are applicable to your sites. (The EPA’s State Tier II Reporting Requirements and Procedures web page is a good starting point.) Also document in detail city/state nuances such as reportable quantities, reportable units of measure, and so on.

Gather Tier II data early

Tip #4: Don’t wait until the end of the year to start collecting compliance data.

For most companies, the Tier II reporting lifecycle largely falls into four segments: Data collection, data validation, data input, and data submissions. Especially for data collection and validation, a good rule of thumb is to have data ready to review the first week of January. 

The list on the right is only an example lifecycle of data-oriented tasks, but it should give you an idea of what we mean by getting started “early.” (Note that we’ve added the months/ranges as a general timeline for when activities could take place.)

Data collection

  • Outreach to sites/facilities (usually between July-November) 
  • Data collection and determining TPQs at each facility (this can include gathering purchasing records and other inventory information, too) 
  • Data collection returned for Tier II preparations (December)

Data validation

  • Initial data validation (December-January)

Data input 

  • Data entry to state reporting (January – February)
  • Data entry reviewed and signed

Data submissions 

  • Admin work completed (March 1 reporting deadline)
  • Inventory management (302, 311, ongoing)

Go digital

Moving from spreadsheets and cutting-pasting information to managing data in digital format is a big jump. And whereas some companies and their EHS teams have made that jump via digital transformation, many others have yet to.  

If you haven’t formally “gone digital” for your Tier II reporting tasks and processes already, you should still digitize compliance documents and EHS records at every opportunity. These can be purchasing records, inventory updates from the plant floor, SDS records, virtually any document tied to EHS Operations, compliance, and reporting. 

Benefit-wise, digitization helps eliminate labor intensive manual work. When data is digitized, it’s efficiently maintained, easily located, and readily accessed — all electronically. Digitization is also key to these final four tips.

Tip #5: Keep site maps readily available, and update them when changes occur at your facility. 

In general, the longstanding practice for facility site maps has been to just print out the map for each facility and clearly indicate the locations of all chemicals. Any changes in a facility’s storage location(s) or other requirements can trigger updates to the map, at which point the map gets printed out again and changes are marked up manually. 

But digitize such maps, and changes can be made (and tracked) electronically — and far more efficiently. Also opposed to printouts in binders, digitized site maps are more readily available and accessible on a laptop or mobile device.

Tip #6: Keep an updated contacts register in a single location. 

Keeping track of contacts information is usually mundane, manual work. So it isn’t surprising how often facility-level emergency contacts are overlooked, not updated, or not properly verified prior to submitting a Tier II report. When this information is maintained electronically, and especially in one place, it’s much easier to originate and update.

Tip #7: Ensure that all Facility Site Contacts have access to an electronic resource on the requirements of Tier II so they can keep you up to date on changes (consistent training).

In order to answer any questions from the SERC, LEPC, or local fire department, the contact person listed for a facility must be knowledgeable both about the chemicals onsite and the resulting Tier II report, its content and its accuracy. (Ok, this is where I make a pitch for Encamp). If you need access to a library of regular EPCRA and Tier II reporting requirement updates, the Encamp platform has the capability to let you verify their applicability for each specific facility. One of my colleagues also does nothing but track regulatory compliance updates in all 50 states, keeping your compliance top of mind. 

Tip #8: Create a single source of truth for reporting and institutional knowledge.

Digital records can be centralized electronically in a single repository and made accessible to those who need the information via data networks, private clouds, or a SaaS-based platform. When EHS teams organize reporting data this way, it becomes seamless — making it easier to share data in a timely manner, minimize human error, conduct QC/QA processes, and generally maintain information year-round. Data becomes more “intelligent” and trusted, and stays ready for reviews as soon as the new calendar year begins.

(Read the Hexion case study to learn how they centralized data and Tier II reporting across their company and regional facilities.)

Transforming the way enterprises stay in compliance 

Encamp is on a mission to create a world where good for business can equal good for the environment. We help enterprises transform compliance programs and human processes into a technology-driven system that lays the foundation for accurate and ongoing environmental compliance through a blended method of intelligent high-tech solutions and high-touch expert support.

Since 2018 Encamp’s Tier II Reporting solution has made us the EHS industry’s largest third-party filer of Tier II reports for Section 312 EPCRA compliance. As environmental regulation and compliance gurus who come from environmental management, state regulatory agency and EHS consulting backgrounds, we’ve helped our customers file thousands of Tier II reports to date… and counting.

So trust us, we know all about the complexities that come with Tier II reporting and environmental compliance regulations in general. We’re also fully aware of the problems of preparing Tier II reports and the errors that often show up during the report submission process.

Here are the Top 10 Tier II reporting issues we see most consistently — a checklist, if you will, to help your company avoid making the same mistakes: 

Top 10 Errors
Checklist

  1. Companies don’t submit environmental compliance reports even though they should
  2. Chemicals are reported inconsistently across sites/facilities
  3. Chemical inventory is reported incorrectly or inaccurately
  4. Outdated or incorrect contact information
  5. Certain chemicals aren’t reported when they should be
  6. Chemicals are incorrectly-marked as extremely hazardous substances (EHSs)
  7. Increased reporting fees for incorrectly-marked chemicals
  8. Out-of-date Safety Data Sheets (SDSs)
  9. Wrong hazards are applied in reports
  10. Mixture components are incorrect

Guided Environmental Compliance

If even one of these issues applies to your company’s Tier II reporting, it’s a non-compliance red flag to regulators. Three or more? Maybe it’s time to re-examine your company’s reporting processes. Encamp’s Guided Environmental Compliance method blends high-tech solutions like digitization with high-touch support to make compliance data easier to manage for EPCRA compliance and automated Tier II reporting. 

Along with our experienced Customer Success and compliance teams for all things Tier II, we aren’t just here to help you avoid reporting errors. We’re here to make sure your company maintains compliance via accurate EPCRA reporting and avoids non-compliance violations.

Common Tier II reporting errors in detail

#1: Companies don’t submit environmental compliance reports even though they should 

It’s no secret that some companies don’t even realize EPA regulatory requirements like EPCRA Sections 311 and 312 apply to their facilities and certain hazardous chemicals. The Encamp technology’s built-in logic identifies chemical products and inventory levels that meet federal, state, and local reporting requirements for every facility and chemical, which ensures that you’re reporting when and where you should. 

#2: Chemicals are reported inconsistently across sites/facilities

Companies report chemical names and related metadata inconsistently due mostly to human error and lack of attention to detail. For example, facilities contributing to Tier II report preparation many times don’t adequately identify and confirm extremely hazardous substances (EHS) on the EPA’s EHS list. Or they don’t properly verify the threshold planning quantity (TPQ) for an EHS. And whereas someone reports muriatic acid by its common name, someone else correctly reports the chemical hydrochloric acid. As a guardrail to ensure consistency, Encamp has integrated the EPA EHS list in its software, which lets you accurately populate hazardous chemicals by facility at implementation.

#3: Chemical inventory is reported incorrectly or inaccurately

Attribute this error to the same problems that lead to chemicals being reported inconsistently — but also add human error and the lack of a formal QA/QC process to ensure data quality and hygiene. Our technology automates reporting preparation and submissions to eliminate human error and provides built-in QA/QC checks for reporting tasks prior to report submission. Upfront during implementation, Encamp’s Customer Success and compliance teams also point out ways to merge products and contacts, eliminate unnecessary, outdated contacts, and explain state and local regulations if there’s confusion. Encamp’s compliance experts can also help with final reporting quality checks if customers request such assistance — essentially another step in guiding organizations through the compliance process.

#4: Outdated or incorrect contact information

Yes, keeping track of this information is usually mundane, manual work. But it’s surprising how often facility-level emergency contacts are overlooked, not updated, or not properly verified prior to report submission. Encamp lets you build and maintain contact profiles for every site, which puts the information at a user’s fingertips. 

Helpful tip: To answer questions from a SERC, LEPC, or local fire department, a facility’s designated contact should be knowledgeable both about the chemicals onsite and the resulting Tier II report. 

#5: Certain chemicals aren’t reported when they should be

Without a centralized solution to manage and track chemicals onsite, it’s easy for personnel handling Tier II reporting at the facility level to overlook short-term or seasonal chemicals. These can be chemicals used for cleaning, specialty products, R&D purposes and so on. EPCRA Section 312 specifies that a business must account for any chemical present at a facility. EPA describes “present” as being onsite at any given time during the year above the TPQ for an extremely hazardous substance. Therefore, while a chemical might be onsite for only a short period of time, if it exceeds a state or federal threshold while at the  facility, it must be reported.

#6: Incorrectly-marked extremely hazardous substances

Many companies either designate EHSs incorrectly or fail to designate a chemical as an EHS in the first place. Encamp’s built-in logic automatically flags chemicals that are on EPA’s EHS list, even if those chemical substances are part of a mixture.

#7: Increased reporting fees for incorrectly-marked chemicals

In and of itself, paying/tracking/reconciling/allocating fees is a huge Tier II reporting burden, especially when operations expand to more states and your facility count increases. Imagine, however, that an amended report has to be filed because a chemical was marked incorrectly. Along with trying to find time for the rework, the fees to file an amended report are much steeper than for initial submissions.

#8: Out-of-date Safety Data Sheets 

From EPA: In 2012, OSHA modified its Hazard Communication Standard (HCS) to conform to the United Nations’ Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals (GHS). As part of these modifications, chemical manufacturers and importers are required to re-evaluate chemicals according to the criteria adopted from GHS in order to ensure that pure chemicals and mixtures are classified appropriately. Any new criteria must be provided to downstream users in safety data sheets (SDSs).  

OSHA regulations require an SDS to be revised within three months after a chemical manufacturer or employer becomes aware of new information concerning the hazards of a chemical. EPCRA regulations merely require that such revised SDSs also be submitted to the agencies that have the original SDS. Facilities should therefore consult the OSHA regulations and guidance to determine if a revised SDS must be prepared and subsequently submitted under EPCRA.

#9: Wrong hazard codes in reports

Again from EPA: Pursuant to 29 CFR 1910.1200(b)(6)(i), the OSHA HCS that sets the requirements for Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDSs) does not apply to hazardous waste as defined by the Solid Waste Disposal Act, as amended by the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) of 1976. EPCRA sections 311 and 312 require reporting only on hazardous chemicals for which an owner or operator of a facility is required to prepare or have available an MSDS. OSHA does not require MSDSs for hazardous waste; therefore, hazardous waste is not subject to EPCRA sections 311 and 312. Since facilities are not required to maintain MSDSs for hazardous waste, they are not required to report for these chemicals if requested by an LEPC.

#10: Mixture components are wrong

A final word from EPA: If a facility that produces, uses, or stores mixtures knows or reasonably should know the components of the mixture, the facility owner or operator must notify under EPCRA Section 302 if the extremely hazardous substance component is more than 1% of the total weight of the mixture and equal to or more than the threshold planning quantity. Even if EHS component information is not available on the SDS provided by the manufacturer, facilities are not exempt from Section 302 notification requirements. 

In addition, per EPA guidelines, the owner or operator of a facility may meet the requirements of Sections 311 and 312 by choosing one of two options:

When the composition of a mixture is unknown, according to EPA, facilities should report on the mixture as a whole, using the total quantity of the mixture. Whichever option the owner or operator decides to use, the reporting of mixtures must be consistent for Sections 311 and 312, where practicable.

And that’s it. The Top 10 Tier II reporting errors we see day and day out. Use this checklist to make sure they don’t show up in your company’s reports.

Transforming the way enterprises stay in compliance

Encamp is on a mission to create a world where good for business can equal good for the environment. We help enterprises transform compliance programs and human processes into a technology-driven system that lays the foundation for accurate and ongoing environmental compliance through a blended method of intelligent high-tech solutions and high-touch expert support.

Staying in compliance with regulatory requirements is one of the most important concerns for companies who want to reach their sustainability goals. Ever-evolving regulatory standards, coupled with the rapid rise of ESG investing, has put more pressure on environmental professionals to build proactive compliance reporting strategies. Such strategies must encompass collecting data for hazardous chemicals, tracking it for reporting, and ensuring its accuracy and timeliness to avoid non-compliance.

Encamp recently hosted “The Path To Proactive Environmental Compliance” live event featuring a panel of compliance experts to discuss these issues. The panel included Encamp CEO and co-founder Luke Jacobs, together with Bill Pennington, EHS Research Director for Verdantix, and Renee Decker, EH&S Program Engineer at Hexion. The panelists shared their thoughts on the significance of proactive environmental compliance as well as operational excellence and business continuity. Following are five key takeaways from the event.

Environmental compliance: expert insights 

On being proactive about compliance issues

“You need to have a system that allows you to collect that information before it’s a fire drill.”

As Luke pointed out, the EHS industry has typically always been reactive to potential compliance issues. If you or your team spend more time putting out fires rather than making sure there aren’t any flammable materials to start one, it’s time to explore more proactive strategies in your approach to environmental compliance management. 

Being proactive goes beyond just knowing what to do. It also means knowing which information you need and where it will come from. Compliance management software (such as Encamp)  aids EHS teams by centralizing their information streams into a single source of truth so that when EPCRA and Tier II season comes along, they are confident and ready to submit their reports.

On tackling business continuity challenges

“It’s reputational damage, it’s loss on advertising that we’ve spent years building to establish a brand, it’s loss of stakeholder trust, and it’s operationally specific costs like stoppage time.”

Ever since the pandemic started, “business continuity” and “resilience” has been the buzzword around the C-suite and their organizations. How can you make sure your business can tackle daily business continuity challenges head-on? More importantly, is there a way to proactively protect your business? 

Being in a highly-regulated industry, non-compliance risks are not only considered blockers to business continuity but they can also be company killers. Whether it’s not managing your data sufficiently or failing to submit required compliance reports, once the EPA determines your business is in violation of its regulations, you can incur hefty fines. More than the financial burden and potential reputational damage, stakeholder trust may also be lost. 

As the panel discussed, many EHS professionals go through this nightmare day in and day out, since staying in compliance plays a big part in ensuring their business continues for many generations to come.

On the rise of ESG

“It helps ensure that we are adequately weighing the EHS part and not just how much product we are pushing out. As an ethical company, we really want to be focused on the environment and sustainability as well.”

As Health and Safety Compliance continues to forge its own path, we are also seeing Environmental Compliance pave a path of its own in the form of Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG). ESG criteria has allowed environmental professionals to take a well-earned seat at the corporate table equal to other stakeholders because of their quantifiable environmental goals. In particular, an organization’s ESG score is important for investors to measure potential growth, ethical impact, and sustainability. 

As Renee Decker shared, as an ethical company, Hexion, Inc. maintains a blueprint of their environmental goals to ensure that each and every one of  its employees are aware of what the level of sustainability the company wants to achieve. As we’ve always said, what’s good for business is good for the environment. 

On digital transformation and operational excellence

“I’m an environmental person but I need my facilities person to collect data that I need. Being able to communicate to that person why this matters and how you do it and to make it really easy for them to be able to do it and do it right is critical.”

Digital transformation to achieve operational excellence has always gone hand-in-hand. Technology is meant to aid human workers by streamlining and automating labor-intensive tasks. 

EHS software is a dime a dozen in this market, but as an environmental compliance professional, you need a system that addresses your particular need. During the event, the panel discussed that this particular solution for environmental compliance will allow you to collaborate with different stakeholders and give visibility to the data you need. Such solutions would alleviate you and your team from complex spreadsheet formulas and having to constantly retrain new hires on non-standardized systems. 

On State-level regulatory complexities

“The Biden Administration has really signalled that enforcement is going to increase pretty drastically over the next four years. Some states are proactively leading the charge in enforcing environmental regulations.”

As our CEO Luke Jacobs mentioned during the event, Encamp will also continue to see a continued complexity with environmental regulations, specifically state-level regulations. This scenario makes it harder for companies, such as yours, that have multiple facilities across multiple states and would need to compile their data into one place. Not only that, you would also need to know which specific data or form to report for which state. In addition, more states are slowly adopting digital technologies, so we will be seeing more regulatory agencies requiring digital submissions for reports.

Standardized, simplified reporting wins proactive environmental compliance

Staying proactive with your environmental compliance management goes beyond due diligence when some things go wrong. Again, it’s not about eliminating things that could go wrong, it’s about being prepared and understanding what is needed for compliance management to go right. Streamlined and simplified environmental reporting translates into confident and proactive environmental compliance. 

Transforming the way enterprises stay in compliance 

Encamp is on a mission to create a world where good for business can equal good for the environment. We help enterprises transform compliance programs and human processes into a technology-driven system that lays the foundation for accurate and ongoing environmental compliance through a blended method of intelligent high-tech solutions and high-touch expert support.

Think of it as environmental compliance knowledge sharing. On an EHS team, it’s one of the best ways to increase productivity in the compliance reporting process… and greater productivity is one of the key elements of proactive environmental compliance.

In nearly every EHS operation, there’s little argument that collecting and analyzing data for EPCRA compliance reports is labor intensive. It’s also exhausting. EHS managers and teams are typically in charge of environmental compliance for up to hundreds of chemicals — often in multiple facilities and states — and they can spend hundreds of hours just chasing down information. 

Staying up to date with state and federal regulations that change constantly is equally demanding, especially when regulations range from federal agencies to the state and county level. Which regulations apply to which facilities? Are chemicals on EPA’s extremely hazardous substance list, and what are their threshold planning quantities (TPQs) if they are?

Are your EHS teams working “productively”? 

In and of itself, researching new and updated regulatory guidelines and their applicability every reporting cycle can be a full-time job. Other reporting tasks are less obvious, but are just as necessary and also add up. Having to review compliance actions and manage back-reporting requirements are just two examples. 

Are these reporting-related efforts productive? Most times, yes. They contribute to finalizing and submitting required compliance reports. But are the tasks accomplished productively? That is, are you using environmental compliance knowledge sharing and technology such as data digitization to make processes more efficient and potentially automated and repeatable? 

For many EHS teams the answer is simply, no. 

Too often, the output of an EHS team gets held up by paper trails and repetitive manual work that isn’t coordinated by way of people and process. Insufficient head count and employee turnover within an EHS team can be additional causes. Whatever the roadblocks, reporting mistakes are unavoidable when employees are overworked and rushed to meet submission deadlines. 

A worse outcome is that EHS professionals get pulled away from focusing on more sustainable compliance program initiatives that, long term, are viewed as higher year-round priorities than reporting. 

eBook, Your Guide to Proactive Environmental ComplianceDownload the eBook
Your Guide to Proactive Environmental Compliance:
Eliminating the risks of non-compliance

The lack of institutional knowledge sharing

A troublesome problem many EHS teams face is that institutional knowledge of the reporting process comes down to one or two people. EPCRA reports aren’t always the most popular things among EHS professionals, after all. So, ultimately, someone gets saddled with the compliance reporting no one else wants to do and it becomes a one-person show. 

At the other end of the spectrum, some EHS teams include someone who’s assumed the responsibility of compliance reporting for the last 10 or 20 years. This person is the single reporting authority and subject matter expert (SME) for the entire company, and they hold the keys to all the reporting expertise.

Either way, when the knowledge of how to prepare and submit compliance reports is sequestered and not adequately shared throughout an EHS team and Operations (let alone enterprise-wide), it can lead to concerns beyond just productivity. As we discuss in Your Guide to Proactive Environmental Compliance:  

When knowledge of requirements such as EPCRA and familiarity with Tier II reporting isn’t shared, it increases the risks of accidental omissions or missed reporting.

The consultant quandary 

While consultants complete valuable tasks such as conducting chemical inventories, collecting and analyzing compliance data, preparing reports and submitting filings, their fees add up. Companies should therefore pay only for true value-add consultant services that are a fraction of billed hours, not for filling out forms and updating spreadsheets.

Work in smarter ways

It’s taken several years, but EHS teams are finally embarking on adopting new technologies that improve process efficiency and workforce productivity. These technologies largely fall into the category of digital transformation and tools such as cloud computing, digitization, and process automation. 

The bigger picture, though, is that technology can empower employees on EHS teams to work in smarter ways. Moreover, technology reaches beyond a “one person reporting operation” — it’s a vehicle to distribute knowledge across a broader spectrum of reporting participants.   

Foster employee retention 

As importantly for EHS roles that often experience high employee turnover are the findings in a recent productivity study and whitepaper from International Data Corporation (IDC). The study’s authors project that, by 2024, companies with intelligent and collaborative work environments will see 30% lower staff turnover and 30% higher productivity per employee compared to companies with lesser environments.

The IDC study supports the thinking that workplace loyalty, as well as productivity, improves when workers feel more involved. Even better, when employees feel knowledge is shared and that their input and ideas are recognized, they’re more likely to put in their best work to help drive an objective forward.

Best practices to increase productivity

Channel compliance reporting into a single system 

Use technology to empower teams and connect generations

Create a culture of compliance knowledge sharing throughout your organization

Transforming the way enterprises stay in compliance 

Encamp is on a mission to create a world where good for business can equal good for the environment. We help enterprises transform compliance programs and human processes into a technology-driven system that lays the foundation for accurate and ongoing environmental compliance through a blended method of intelligent high-tech solutions and high-touch expert support.

Many organizations view business continuity planning as an emergency management measure, usually to counteract an unplanned catastrophic event such as a natural disaster or technological failure of some kind. One prevailing definition describes such planning as a capability to “continue the delivery of products or services at pre-defined acceptable levels following a disruptive incident.”

But for an EHS team and environmental compliance reporting processes, business continuity more often equates to succession planning within the team and EHS Operations as well as the company. That is, a changing of the guard.

Similar to business continuity, an EHS team must be able to comply with all environmental regulations and keep delivering quality reports even after the main repository of “institutional memory” leaves the building.

Continuity and institutional knowledge

For a lot of EHS teams, it’s not uncommon that institutional knowledge of the reporting process falls to only one or two people. This is usually the result of limited staff and bandwidth… or just the fact that no one really likes to do compliance reports. In other cases, it’s also not unusual to have the same person assume the responsibility of reporting for years. 

Think about that. One person potentially has decades of compliance reporting history locked away in their head. 

As the designated EPCRA guru and environmental compliance subject matter expert, this person is the single authority of compliance reporting for the entire company. They’re connected to all the key stakeholders in Operations, they know exactly where data “lives,” and they understand every regulatory requirement. This person is also the master of the company’s holy grail spreadsheet for reports — day in and day out, year after year — and is the only one who can maneuver precisely through every state’s reporting portal for submissions.

“I’ve created the perfect environmental compliance reporting process,
but what happens when I’m gone?”

Succession by default

What does this say about business continuity and involving new resources seamlessly when the time comes? Unfortunately, whether they want to be or not, the reality is that someone else in the EHS department often gets saddled with reporting and becomes the new one-person show. 

Almost instantly, this person is expected to prepare and submit reports at the “pre-defined acceptable levels” set by their predecessor — meaning reports that are complete, accurate, and filed on time to mitigate any risks of non-compliance.

The question is, can reporting quality be sustained if there’s a drop-off in the level of knowledge and experience? And the problem is, reporting still comes down to one person.

The generational dynamic

A looming issue for many EHS teams is that seasoned staff are closing in on retirement. As a 2021 Salary Survey conducted by Safety + Health Magazine showed, 40% of the 399 EHS professionals who responded were either at retirement or early retirement age (55-65 years old or older). Of note, in the magazine’s 2020 Salary Survey with roughly the same volume of respondents, the number was only 29%.  

Not all of these respondents are in reporting roles, of course. However, a large portion of them are in roles that are likely to at least touch on the reporting process: EHS (58%), Operations/Production (13%), Risk Management (6%), and Regulatory Affairs (1%). 

Knowing compliance reports won’t wait, the EHS professionals who replace retiring SMEs in these areas must be able to hit the ground running, which makes succession planning and business continuity all the more important.

Younger generations and technology 

Fortunately at the opposite end of the environmental compliance and business continuity spectrum are the younger generations who continue to enter the EHS profession. 

Again from the Safety + Health Magazine survey, one-third of the survey’s respondents said they’ve been in the EHS industry for nine years or less. Another 17% said their industry experience ranges from 10-14 years. Given the timeframe, it’s safe to say this generation of EHS professionals is more accustomed to using technology as a work tool than many of their older colleagues. 

For compliance reporting in particular, instead of spreadsheets and cut-paste reporting, newer workers more commonly embrace digitalization and seek out ways to automate repetitive tasks to simplify and streamline processes. 

This digital approach also ensures that critical data stays transparent and is easier to gather and access, and helps owners stay on track to meet reporting deadlines. Mostly, though, digitization and transparency in the reporting function keeps EHS teams from constantly trying to comply with previously unknown regulatory obligations across the company’s operations.

Technology as the hub for business continuity

In the compliance reporting equation, technology is the key to business continuity and succession planning companywide — namely in the form of an environmental management system. Think of such systems in the same vein as enterprise technology systems.

A single source of truth

An environmental compliance management system (such as the Encamp Platform) lets a company and its EHS team easily create a single source of truth for compliance management and reporting. With such a system in place, teams are able to increase data visibility and easily locate and access needed information. Data can always be found exactly where it should be, and there’s no room for someone to misinterpret how or where records should be maintained. 

Unlike the lone reporting SME who keeps 20 years of knowledge in their head, an environmental management system is a foundation from which to share data as well as knowledge

Verifying applicable regulations

A reporting guru who knows every applicable regulation and its reporting requirements is an invaluable asset on an EHS team. But once again, what if the person moves on? A succession plan in this case should also focus on an environmental compliance management system.

ehs software and technologyIn their Encamp Case Study report, for example, the EHS analysts at Verdantix cite the Encamp Platform’s business continuity capabilities based on its “built-in intelligence” of regulated materials lists. Lists include EPA’s Consolidated List of Lists and state-based chemical lists, as well as any associated changes to Federal, State and local threshold planning quantities

Additionally, the Verdantix report notes how Encamp’s Customer Success and Compliance team tracks and manages EPCRA Tier II threshold changes for Encamp users prior to the next reporting season. “This ensures that the (Encamp) system is performing the proper assessments on chemical product inventories, and only for facilities that meet state reporting requirements.”

Digitalization to make knowledge more accessible

In a Q&A with Bill Pennington, Verdantix’s Director of EHS Research and a co-author of the Encamp Case Study, Pennington noted that digitization is finally catching on in the EHS sector. “More firms recognize the value of digitizing EHS processes,” he said, “and incoming demographics do not see any other way of doing business.”  

Defined, digital transformation technologies and practices provide a framework in which data, process, and people work together within a sustainable digital infrastructure. More importantly, this kind of framework lets a company and its EHS teams promote institutional knowledge and create a robust knowledge sharing environment. 

With digitized data and digital technology, companies are able to more effectively connect people and data to make more informed decisions quicker. Also with a single source of truth to draw from, EHS teams can extend easily-accessed information to all users on an EHS team, to facilities, and to stakeholders in Operations and at the executive level.

Standardized, repeatable processes

In line with digitized data, EHS departments can likewise digitalize the processes within reporting functions to streamline data flows and workflows. Moreover, when processes and data follow a digital path, they can be systematized, standardized, streamlined, documented — and made repeatable. 

Standardized, repeatable processes in turn support the transfer of reporting knowledge from a current SME to other EHS staff and new employees. For EPCRA, Tier II, and other compliance reports such as RCRA, process documentation, checklists, and things like task assignments additionally provide a collective training mechanism for continuity and succession planning. 

These knowledge sharing methods are even scalable if the company acquires or adds new facilities or chemicals. 

A final tip

Evolve a succession plan for reporting through employee empowerment

The best way to grow a succession plan for compliance reporting is to do it organically. In an EHS and environmental compliance reporting environment, three cornerstones provide a sound framework: 

For the business continuity aspect, EHS teams should also involve regional and corporate environmental SMEs at every opportunity, and make sure the stage is set for scalability to new or acquired facilities.

When knowledge of requirements such as EPCRA and RCRA and familiarity with Tier II reporting is fully shared, business continuity and succession planning are easy. It lets an EHS team and the business alike survive any “disruptive incidents” in the reporting process. 

Transforming the way enterprises stay in compliance 

Encamp is on a mission to create a world where good for business can equal good for the environment. We help enterprises transform compliance programs and human processes into a technology-driven system that lays the foundation for accurate and ongoing environmental compliance through a blended method of intelligent high-tech solutions and high-touch expert support.

If there’s one convincing reason an EHS department should assess how it collaborates for regulatory compliance reporting — or doesn’t collaborate — it’s that successful proactive environmental compliance is impossible to attain without it.

In simple terms, collaboration is defined as the process of two or more people working together to complete a task or achieve a goal. For an EHS team facing various deadlines for EPCRA compliance reporting, however, collaboration requires more depth. 

To coordinate accurate data collection and reporting tasks between the team and facilities, collaboration should include all members of an EHS team. And to meet the March 1st deadline for all Tier II reports to be submitted to the various state and local agencies, it’s imperative that everyone works in concert throughout the entire reporting process.

eBook, Your Guide to Proactive Environmental ComplianceDownload the eBook
Your Guide to Proactive Environmental Compliance:
Eliminating the risks of non-compliance

Connect the dots and dataflows first

The first step is making sure the collaborative dots are fully connected across EHS team members and Operations. Collaboration measures should additionally include any other stakeholders in the company who contribute to the compliance reporting function.

Throughout the process of preparing and submitting environmental compliance reports, collaboration should then encompass communication, data sharing, cohesive workflows, assigning and tracking tasks, and eliminating institutional knowledge silos wherever possible. 

As people work in a collaborative manner, it leads to more informed decisions and reporting outcomes that are often more successful. But when collaboration is lacking, the result is constant fire drills and a greater risk of non-compliance. 

According to EHSToday, poor communication and collaboration is the organizational problem that frustrates teams the most.  

Larry Hansen, “Why Won’t They Listen?”

Teamwork increases reporting effectiveness

In an environmental compliance reporting scenario, it’s not uncommon for final EPCRA, RCRA and other reports to come down to one or two people on an EHS team. However, processes to gather and review data can include an EHS director, a manager, corporate and regional subject matter experts (SMEs), facility managers, environmental specialists, or EHS technicians. Reporting data can also come from finance departments, purchasing departments, maintenance departments, procurement staff, and on down the business’s organizational line. 

EHS leaders should foster collaboration to promote teamwork among these EHS team members and associated stakeholders. Doing so can increase the efficiency of collecting, sharing, and analyzing information among the group, and keep data collection and reporting processes flowing seamlessly. 

Ultimately, the overall teamwork helps ensure data quality and reporting accuracy as well as decision-usefulness. 

Process and task management

Think of collaboration in terms of process and task management as well. In standardizing processes and making them more systematic, employees should be aligned with the process in a collaborative structure. 

Again in a environmental compliance reporting scenario, for instance, consider the various process parts and the people involved. At a facility, someone gets assigned to do inventory for chemical types and quantities. An SME on the EHS team then determines whether the facility has any extremely hazardous substances in an amount that equals or exceeds the threshold planning quantity (TPQ) for EPCRA. Further along, another employee in Purchasing must supply chemical purchasing records for the facility’s EPCRA reports. 

Collaboration therefore is both a requirement and a driver of the process to keep it moving in an unified manner.

Without the proper collaboration tools and training, though, the ability to manage processes and tasks in the name of teamwork is diminished. Data goes dark, deadlines get missed, employees start playing the blame game, and the risk for non-compliance goes higher. 

Central to a company’s culture and success 

In a 2019 study from the Institute of Corporate Productivity (summarized in Forbes), researchers found that when collaborative practices were “commonplace,” companies were five times more likely to be high-performing with workers delivering quality outputs. 

But “commonplace” doesn’t mean “automatic.” Collaboration must be encouraged by leadership, accepted and practiced by employees, and continually nurtured at every opportunity. 

To that end, successful companies make collaboration central to their culture. They connect people using workflow tools to assign and track work tasks. More importantly, they implement collaboration best practices and guidelines for users to improve scheduling, communications, workflows, and outputs. 

Regardless of where EHS teams sit in their company, they should follow the same collaboration blueprint for environmental compliance reporting. When they do, it improves process continuity and minimizes the risk of non-compliance. 

Transforming the way enterprises stay in compliance 

Encamp is on a mission to create a world where good for business can equal good for the environment. We help enterprises transform compliance programs and human processes into a technology-driven system that lays the foundation for accurate and ongoing environmental compliance through a blended method of intelligent high-tech solutions and high-touch expert support. test

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