Facilities that store and manage extremely hazardous chemicals (EHS) are subject to EPCRA Tier II reporting requirements and must submit Safety Data Sheets and inventory information to the SERC, LEPC, and the local fire department. These essential documents provide emergency planners and responders with the information they need to effectively and safely respond to an emergency at their facility.

To get the information needed for timely chemical inventory reporting for Tier II compliance, accurate and well-managed Safety Data Sheets are needed. Unfortunately, many EHS professionals are still spending much of their time digging through emails, spreadsheets, and binders filled with dusty, outdated SDSs that don’t provide the crucial information facilities and first responders need.

Thankfully, cutting through the chaos and bringing clarity to managing and updating Tier II Safety Data Sheets is possible. When EHS teams centralize and digitize the information enterprise-wide, they say goodbye to the never-ending struggle of SDS management and give stakeholders at every level the ability to access the information where and when they need it.

Organizations that digitize their Tier II Safety Data Sheets will see these five benefits.

1. Gain quicker access to safety data sheets

If an EHS managers’ SDS library consists of scattered paper trails that live in physical binders or PDFs, spread across personal computers and email, they’re more likely to get a paper cut or a headache than find the information they need as quickly as they need it. These issues only grow for larger organizations with many facilities scattered across multiple states. However, when SDS management is digitized, everything is centralized in one searchable location, so stakeholders can have ready access to the information they need instantly and not waste time looking for data that is misplaced.

2. Report clean, accurate Tier II safety data sheets

Many EHS teams that still maintain a paper-based SDS library are in rough shape and most likely have repetitive or outdated documents. Over time, chemical manufacturers may adjust or add new chemicals to the composition of their products. Without the most recent SDS, their company may be under or over-reporting existing chemicals or not reporting new additions.

Unfortunately, traditional SDS management systems offer no easy way to clean up and update Tier II chemical inventories, especially across the entire organization and multiple facilities. However, duplicates and outdated documents are easier to spot when digitized, leading to a cleaner, more compliant SDS that is ready to submit. Accurate SDS reporting also means providing emergency planners and first responders with timely and correct data that will allow them to protect lives, manage panic, and provide effective communication if an emergency incident ever arises.

3. Pull and update safety data sheets in bulk

Pulling and updating SDS information in bulk is challenging when everything is on paper, but even when using PDFs. Often EHS managers must open every SDS to find the information they need. Using specialized SDS management systems that centralizes and standardizes a company’s chemical product library simplifies those tasks necessary for Tier II compliance.

Also, as new chemicals arrive and others are used up or moved out, digitizing and centralizing the product library provides EHS teams visibility over the chemicals they have on site. Now they can keep a closer, more accurate account of changes to chemical thresholds in real-time, throughout the year, instead of checking PDFs individually.

4. Improve communication and collaboration

Because SDSs are not connected between systems used within an organization, EHS managers often need to download from one system to upload to another. This movement creates the unintended risk of developing inaccurate copies of SDSs, a compliance risk. Digital SDS management systems allow for intercommunication between systems, eliminating this issue.

5. Minimize time-consuming administrative tasks and errors

EHS managers must continuously monitor product inventory to comply with changing thresholds and requirements for chemical reporting for Tier II. Unfortunately, many do this by manually opening each SDS to get the needed information. Not only is this time-consuming, but it also runs the risk of incorrect hand-entered data. Digital SDS management systems have the ability to integrate data from various systems into a single source, take the human factor out, and provide users with data they can feel confident about.

A modern solution to an age-old problem

SDS digitization makes Tier II reporting faster, simpler, and more accurate by centralizing and standardizing a company’s chemical product library to ensure EPCRA compliance. Learn more about Encamp’s EPCRA Solution that streamlines and automates 302 notifications, 311 notifications, and Tier II reporting.

Transforming 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 sheer amount of compliance data and Tier II reporting requirements EHS managers have to track can make environmental compliance hard to achieve when timeliness and accuracy are such a central focus. 

Having a checklist on hand during each phase of the Tier II reporting process makes sure no detail is left unturned. That’s why we’ve created a helpful Tier II Reporting Checklist, perfect for breaking down the three main periods of Tier II reporting from data collection, reporting submissions, and compliance audits into bite-sized tasks. 

In this article, we’re focusing on the top tasks EHS managers can follow today to stay proactive and save time when verifying data and reporting requirements:

      1. Gather purchasing information and inventory to make sure new chemicals or quantities are captured.
      2. Compare the current year’s purchasing and facility contact information from the previous year’s Tier II report.
      3. Verify login details and changes in requirements for individual states facilities are reporting in.
      4. Reach out early to the SERC, LEPC, or local fire departments for specific questions.

Proactively Verify Your Tier II Data and State Requirements

Although facilities that store hazardous chemicals on-site usually start preparing to submit reports for Tier II during the start of the year, they often find themselves needing more time to actually verify the data they have. In the EHS industry, it is typical for compliance data to come from multiple disconnected sources and is often difficult to centralize into one single location. And although state or local requirements may not change all the time, the volume of jurisdictions facilities are in make it difficult to verify requirements and logins one-by-one as well.

Arming yourself and your team with a well-designed checklist will help keep them calm, organized, and compliant. By foreseeing chemical inventory changes early and anticipating small details –  such as changes in portal login and emergency contacts – your team will be equipped to report accurately and on time.

Prepare for the Tier II Reporting Deadline

Collecting and verifying compliance data and reporting requirements is an important part of keeping the Tier II reporting progress on track. However, this is only the beginning and each part of the process requires a proactive stance, especially report submissions. When individual state portals open on January 1st up until the submission deadline of March 1st, EHS teams continue to face labor-intensive tasks that come with handling annual Tier II reports internally from report submissions, sending mailers, and processing payments. This is why it’s still strongly recommended for EHS teams to keep a Tier II Reporting Checklist on-hand, to make sure every task needed during the reporting period is accounted for. 

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.

How confident are you with EPCRA Tier II reporting for lead-acid batteries?

During our last virtual event, Mastering Compliance Reporting for Lead-Acid Batteries, regulatory compliance experts discussed the most critical lead-acid battery compliance issues confronting EHS managers today before answering questions from the audience.

 

Speakers included:

Jennifer Collins, former Pollution Prevention and Compliance Assistance Manager, IDEM
Eugene Simonds, Compliance Program Manager, Encamp

 

 

 

Watch the full webinar on-demand to learn tried-and-tested, compliance expert-approved strategies to bring your facility into compliance with Tier II requirements.

To get you started, here are our top three takeaways:

Proactively Assesses Your Chemical Inventory for Tier II Reporting

A lead acid battery is a rechargeable battery that produces electricity by creating a controlled chemical reaction from submerging lead plates in sulfuric acid.  

When we think of Tier II  reporting, the first thing that pops into our heads are the most hazardous chemicals we have in the largest volumes. However, even though sulfuric acid is designated an Extremely Hazardous Substance (EHS) by the EPA, lead-acid batteries often get overlooked due to their low chemical volume and prevalence within the industry. 

Before bringing new batteries on site, it’s important to remember that because of sulfuric acid’s EHS designation, Tier II reporting thresholds for lead-acid batteries typically are lower. As soon as your facility meets the Threshold Planning Quantity (TPQ) of 1,000 pounds, you must submit a 302 report to the SERC and LEPC and will be required to fulfill additional emergency planning requirements. 

Reporting deadlines for facilities that bring lead acid batteries that meet threshold requirements depends on the facility’s jurisdiction, and local requirements may be much shorter than the 60-day federal requirement. For example, facilities meeting reporting thresholds in Pennsylvania have just five days to submit this notification. 

Be Thoughtful When Calculating Sulfuric Acid in Lead Acid Batteries

With lead-acid batteries being so prevalent and containing a relatively low volume, calculating the total amount of sulfuric acid each facility has is challenging. The first step is to find the amount of acid in each battery. 

To do that, you must know the battery weight and what percentage of sulfuric acid it contains. You can find this information on the battery’s spec sheet, which provides battery weight and its safety data sheet (SDS), which will have the percentage of sulfuric acid. Now, multiply those two numbers together, and you have an approximate amount of acid inside the battery. 

Approach Lead-acid Battery Damage with Caution

It’s important to know that if you have a damaged battery, a release of 1,000 pounds triggers notification requirements to the SERC, LEPC, and National Response Center. How you report will vary depending on the location of your facility, and there may also be additional reporting requirements. 

However, these reporting requirements only apply to sulfuric acid that leaves your facility. Therefore, if you spill 1,000 pounds of sulfuric acid but capture, clean, and dispose of it properly, there are no EPCRA notification requirements. 

Download our Lead-Acid Batteries Guide: The Ultimate Reporting Kit to learn more about reporting lead-acid batteries as a mixture or component, as well as other expert-approved strategies shared by our experts.

How Encamp Can Help

If you’re like many EHS managers who struggle with how to report lead-acid batteries for Tier II, don’t worry. If you address these three critical mistakes, you will be well on your way towards EPCRA Tier II compliance. 

Encamp 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 many EHS teams, compliance reporting for EPCRA, RCRA and other program areas usually involves team members who understand the requirements for filing accurate Tier 2 reports. Each person plays a vital role in the process. Unfortunately, for EHS teams in various industries, staff turnover can hamper reporting, let alone efforts to improve Tier 2 reporting processes themselves. 

Given the findings of a 2019 EHS Talent Report that showed turnover on EHS teams to be as high as 20% at the time, it’s safe to say the rate is still close to that now — if not higher. But it’s no reason to let employee movement derail your Tier 2 reporting outcomes. 

By using technology to standardize compliance data management and reporting, organizations can keep turnover from affecting the consistency and accuracy of their compliance process. The right EHS management software can help EHS teams sustain processes and still make sure Tier 2 reports are accurately compiled, formatted, submitted on time, and effectively recorded and retained. 

 

3 Ways to Overcome Turnover by Automating Tier 2 Reporting

There are several ways organizations can keep turnover on their EHS team from negatively impacting Tier 2 reporting. With digitization and automation as the foundation, Encamp Compliance Program Managers Madison Martin and Jennifer Mester identified three aspects of the reporting process that EHS leaders should proactively prioritize:

In particular, these aspects address key EHS team members who have control of the entire process with the compliance knowledge stored in their brain and spreadsheets and formulas saved on their computer. They understand the details of reporting like no one else does. Should anyone ever leave, retire, or be redirected to other compliance priorities, however, the rest of the team must be able to operate with the same institutional knowledge and ensure continuity for reporting tasks.

This business case for centralized data processing demonstrates how Encamp’s EHS management software helps teams achieve data accuracy, reporting consistency, and a centralized document repository to combat turnover, and actually improve Tier 2 reporting overall.

 

Maintaining Consistent and Accurate Data

This is where standardizing data management and reporting processes comes in. The aim is to establish a strong foundation for compliance data and create a continuous data collection process, especially at the facility level. 

“Consistent data, even if someone leaves, is the most critical thing. If a certain person has been doing Tier 2 reporting, or any other (type of) environmental reporting, that person may have their own system for gathering and storing information, which may not make sense to the next person,” said Jennifer Mester.

Begin by pulling in a canonical set of corporate, facility, and personnel information to implement the foundation for compliance data. Then, after organizing the data in one place, identify the different channels data comes from (such as each facility) to establish data collection on a continuous basis for all relevant compliance and Tier 2 reporting information.

To ensure both the consistency and accuracy of the collected data, EHS teams and all stakeholders get a single point of visibility and control for corporate, facility, and contact data for every site being managed. Along with standardizing the data collection process, teams are able to monitor information across all sites in real time — ensuring that data is handled and validated consistently, regardless of who’s involved in the process. This is yet another step teams can take to improve Tier 2 reporting.

 

Automating Compliance for Tier 2 Reporting 

With EHS management software, EHS teams automate the reporting process for report submissions, processing mailers, and billing in accordance with various federal, state, and local regulatory requirementsall in one place. Such automation enables teams to standardize reporting and make the process repeatable year after year for all compliance and reporting stakeholders.

“Encamp pushes out reports the same way each year,” said Madison Martin. “So even if employees change, the report formats are consistent from year to year.” She also points out that EHS teams can utilize the Encamp platform to maintain user credentials for state and other reporting portals. As Martin noted, “Credentials are usually the first things that get lost when an employee leaves.” 

More importantly in the face of employee turnover at facilities, automating regulatory updates and notifications helps to meet a facility’s exact Tier 2 reporting requirements and ensures continuous compliance. EHS teams are able to use rule-based triggers to automatically catch regulatory updates or changes, and then automatically integrate any applicable changes in the platform’s compliance engine.  

To improve Tier 2 reporting and ensure compliance, automated notifications can help EHS teams eliminate almost 100% of reporting errors before they occur. Teams also reduce the number of facilities at risk of non-compliance by nearly the same percentage. Moreover, notifications have helped reduce the time to complete and file compliance reports by as much as 90% for some of Encamp’s fast-growth customers.

 

Centralizing Audit-Ready Documentation

Archiving past reports and associated documents is a function often overlooked by many EHS teams, which can be problematic in the midst of turnover. “The document retention aspect is really important,” Mester said. “It is not uncommon for a long-time employee to leave, and then no one can find critical records.” 

As a platform that simplifies environmental compliance data management, Encamp provides a single repository in which to store prior reports for future reference, including all data associated with those reports. Also by laying the foundation for an auditable and continuous environmental compliance program, and despite the employee turnover that occurs on many EHS teams, ensuring accuracy and mitigating risk across the entire data management and Tier 2 reporting process. 

 

How Encamp Can Help

With Encamp’s EHS management software for Tier 2 reporting, businesses and their EHS teams have a robust system that eliminates the discrepancies, wasted time, and potential errors from different people taking over data collection and reporting roles. Teams realize savings from reducing switching costs and lost time due to employee turnover. 

Teams also mitigate bad habit formation and lay the foundation for a department built on compliance. Instead of relying on an employee who is less familiar with Tier 2 reporting requirements to file a report — and to potentially train someone else improperly — Encamp lets you trust that reports are consistently compiled and submitted in a compliant manner.

Let us show you how Encamp helps your EHS team maintain accurate and consistent environmental compliance data and reporting despite employee turnover

 

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.

No matter what industry they’re in, many businesses have started using lithium-ion batteries as an alternative energy solution to maximize their bottom line, for good reason. Compared to its lead-acid battery counterpart, a lithium-ion battery is 95% more efficient.  However, reporting lithium-ion batteries for Tier II continues to raise questions for EHS teams.

Although lithium-ion batteries are sealed, they have the potential to leak flammable chemicals. Due to this, EPCRA requires facilities to complete a Safety Data Sheet (SDS) and Tier II report if the applicable reporting thresholds for batteries on-site are met or exceeded.

3 Common Questions for Lithium-Ion Battery Reporting

Here are three common questions usually asked on whether lithium-ion batteries fall under a facility’s specific Tier II reporting requirements:

      1. When is a Tier II report required for lithium-ion batteries?
      2. What are the Tier II reporting thresholds for these kinds of batteries?
      3. How does a facility report lithium-ion batteries for Tier II? 

1. When is a Tier II report required for lithium-ion batteries?

Some lithium-ion batteries qualify under EPCRA Section 311(e)’s “consumer product exemption,” which excludes from reporting “any substance to the extent it is used for personal, family, or household purposes, or is present in the same form and concentration as a product packaged for distribution and use for the general public.” 

When determining whether any lithium-ion batteries at a facility are exempt from Tier II reporting, consider if they’re in the same packaging and concentrations as lithium-ion batteries sold for personal use.  If the answer is yes, regardless of whether they’re intended to be distributed for use by the general public or used for the same purpose as a consumer product, then those batteries are exempt.

All other large commercial type lithium-ion batteries stored in a facility are not exempt and should be included in a Tier II report. For example:

Report batteries that are used to power forklifts, because these batteries are not sold for use by the general public.

Report solar batteries of a particular size (approximately 100kWh) that typically have only industrial applications.

Don’t report batteries that the maintenance department uses to power their cordless drills, because these are batteries sold for use by the general public (i.e., the same batteries available for purchase at a hardware store).

Don’t report solar batteries of a particular size (approximately 3 kWh) that consumers would use in their homes. 

A gray area exists in what constitutes a lithium-ion battery packaged for distribution and use for the general public. The burden for making this determination is on the facility and they should be able to justify why lithium-ion batteries are exempt.

If you’re in any doubt about whether an exemption applies at a specific facility, be sure to err on the side of caution and report the batteries as a chemical. Doing so will cover the facility from a regulatory compliance perspective, while also increasing safety for first responders and emergency planners. If further guidance is needed, it’s best to reach out to the SERC or LEPC.

 

2. What are the Tier II reporting thresholds for lithium-ion batteries?

Step 1: Determine the reporting threshold

Because lithium-ion batteries are flammable and present potential safety issues, they’re subject to EPCRA regulations and the reporting thresholds determined for Tier II filing. But unlike lead-acid batteries, lithium-ion batteries do NOT contain any Extremely Hazardous Substances (EHS). Therefore, the reporting threshold for lithium-ion batteries (at the federal level) is 10,000 pounds.

At a state and local level, reporting thresholds are more complex in that they vary among states and even counties and local jurisdictions. While many states have adopted the 10,000-pound reporting threshold for hazardous chemicals, a handful of states have lower Tier II reporting thresholds. This makes it imperative to determine the appropriate requirements for a specific state. For example, Louisiana has a hazardous chemical reporting threshold of just 500 pounds — meaning, having just one lithium-ion battery for a forklift may be enough to require Tier II reporting.

In other cases, specific counties and cities may have even lower reporting thresholds. For example, Gilbert, Arizona has stricter reporting requirements than the state-level.

Step 2: Perform the threshold determination

Now that it’s been determined a Tier II report is needed and what the reporting threshold is, the next step is to quantify the amount of lithium-ion batteries at a facility and make a threshold determination. There are two options available when performing a threshold determination:

Quantifying as Mixture 

Quantifying by Component

In nearly every situation, it’s more appropriate to perform a threshold determination using Option 1, for these reasons:

If a facility has previously fulfilled obligations for EPCRA Section 311 (SDS reporting) by reporting their lithium-ion batteries as a mixture, the same should be done on the facility’s Tier II report. The opposite is also true — if it’s previously reported as components on the Section 311 reporting, then the facility must do the same on its Tier II report.

To illustrate the difference in complexity between these two approaches, consider the following examples for the same facility (based on requirements in the State of Indiana).

 

Example 1. Quantifying as a mixture for the state of Indiana

quantifying lithium-ion batteries as a mixture

13,250 lb. > 10,000 lb. threshold – Lithium-ion batteries need to be reported at this facility.

 

Example 2. Quantifying by battery component (copper) for the state of Indiana

quantifying lithium-ion batteries by battery component

11,338 lb. > 10,000 lb. threshold – Copper would need to be reported at the facility.

 

Note: The exercise in Example 2, quantifying by battery component, would need to be repeated for each constituent in the batteries (lithium-cathode, lead, etc.).

If the threshold is being determined using threshold Option 1, quantifying as a mixture, the following information is needed:

As shown in Option 1, all that’s needed is to add up the total weight of the lithium-ion batteries and compare the weight to the hazardous chemical reporting threshold.

 

3. How does a facility report lithium-ion batteries for Tier II?

Now that the quantity of reportable batteries has been confirmed, and it’s been determined that it exceeds applicable thresholds, the last step is creating a Tier II report. Here, we discuss the individual sections that need to be completed. Note: Where examples are provided, the data and scenario from Example 1 are used.

Chemical details in a Tier II submission

Although the Tier II reporting portal interface will vary depending on the state, the following will be true when reporting lithium-ion batteries:

Physical and health hazards

Most lithium-ion batteries will have similar hazards, but it is very important to reference the lithium-ion battery SDS from the manufacturer specific to the batteries at a facility. This way, first responders and emergency planners will be working with the most accurate information. Hazards can typically be found in Section 2 of your SDS.

Typical hazards as they are reported on a Tier II report may be:

Physical hazards:

Health hazards:

Storage locations

Lithium-ion battery storage locations will consistently be reported with the following properties:

Frequently Asked Questions

I have different SDSs for different types of lithium-ion batteries at my facility. Should I consider them different mixtures, each with their own reporting threshold?

Generally no. While it is ultimately up to the facility to use professional judgment to determine whether the amounts of two mixtures (e.g., two batteries from two separate manufacturers) should be aggregated or counted separately, most lithium-ion batteries present the same physical or health hazards and should be aggregated for threshold determinations. 

How do I determine the weight of my lithium-ion batteries?

First, determine the manufacturer and model number of the battery. Most manufacturers post specifications (including weight) on their website for the various lithium-ion battery models they sell. If the weight specification of a particular battery model is unavailable, contact the manufacturer directly.

 

Reporting lithium-ion batteries on a Tier II report is critical

Again, even though lithium-ion batteries are sealed, they can leak or spill and cause potential exposure to hazardous chemicals. Their flammability also presents safety concerns for local emergency agencies as well as fire departments and first responders. Reporting lithium-ion batteries on a Tier II report therefore is critical. This guide helps facilities ensure their report is accurate. Do you have further questions about reporting lithium-ion batteries? Reach out and learn how Encamp can simplify environmental compliance data and reporting for you.

 

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.

At Encamp, we’re dedicated to taking a proactive approach to security, compliance, and data privacy for businesses and their environmental, health, and safety (EHS) compliance operations, particularly given the volume of EHS data entrusted to us by our customers. Under the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act of 1986 (EPCRA) and Tier II reporting requirements specified in EPCRA Section 312, facilities storing or using chemicals determined to be hazardous substances by the EPA are required to file their chemical inventory data annually via a Tier II form.

The purpose of a Tier II report is to provide each State, local officials, and the public with specific information on the potential hazards chemicals can pose within a facility. Tier II reporting also encompasses hazardous materials stored elsewhere on site. As of 2022, Encamp has filed more than 13,000 Tier II reports for our customers, a number that continues to grow exponentially. Therefore, we’re excited to share Encamp’s EHS environmental data management software has reached another important milestone and is now SOC 2 Type 2 certified.

 

For EHS Data, What Does it Mean to be SOC 2 Type 2 Compliant?

Service Organization Controls (SOC) 2 Type 2 is a voluntary compliance standard set by the American Institute of CPAs for leading technology companies that offer cloud-based products. It also specifies how an organization should manage customer data defined by a rigorous set of criteria called the five trust service principles: Security, Availability, Processing Integrity, Confidentiality, and Privacy.

In Encamp’s case, these criteria were used by independent auditor Schellman & Company LLC to evaluate how well Encamp manages its customer data and ensures that we have strong security controls in place to protect the EHS data they report. 

Being SOC 2 (Type 1 and 2) compliant means we have successfully demonstrated, as independently verified by a third-party audit, that Encamp’s EHS compliance software has the gold standard of privacy and security controls in place to ensure our customers their most important data is kept safe and secure from all threats.

 

“Encamp prides itself on our core value of being customer obsessed. Our customers’ trust is essential and is rooted in everything we do. Achieving our SOC 2 Compliance directly aligns with that core value, providing proof and confidence to our customers that Encamp is committed to ensuring that their data is kept secure and private.”

Brandon Muller, Sr. Security and DevOps Engineer at Encamp


What does this SOC 2 Certification mean for Encamp’s EHS Compliance Software?

Encamp chooses to view our SOC 2 Compliance as an investment, rather than a “necessary evil.” Maintaining our SOC 2 compliance assures current and prospective customers of our commitment to protecting both their EHS data and associated corporate information, improves our employee’s vigilance, and reduces the risk of a security event or data breach.

In meeting Tier II reporting requirements for EPCRA and environmental compliance, businesses who work with Encamp can be confident their EHS data maintains the highest levels of completeness, accuracy, and safety throughout the Tier II filing process. Learn more about Encamp’s Security Statement.

 

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 EHS leaders facing constant changes in chemical inventories and regulatory requirements, collecting EHS data for Tier II reporting on a continual basis promotes informed decision making.

To make the kinds of environmental compliance decisions that prevent non-compliance violations, EHS leaders must have clear, accurate, up to date data readily available at all times

Yet even the most seasoned EHS managers and professionals say collecting facility data for Tier II reports can be exhausting. Decentralized systems, spreadsheets, and a basic lack of time and structure often make the process harder than it should be. But there’s are better ways to get ahead of data collection for Tier II reporting.

 


Continuous Tier II Data Collection: Best Practices and Takeaways

In the first of a 3-part March to March virtual event series from Encamp, we discussed how to improve the data collection process for Tier II by rethinking it. To start, here are three best practices to consider:

    1. Make time to collect and validate compliance data regularly throughout the year. When Tier II data isn’t available or becomes outdated, it’s hard to fill the cracks. 
    2. Standardize data collection processes to make them repeatable year after year. This drives efficiency — and means no more starting from scratch every reporting year.
    3. Identify evergreen tasks that compliance stakeholders can complete at any time during the year. Any completed task is a head start to meeting the Tier II reporting deadline.

At Encamp, we can’t say this enough: The secret to ensuring accurate Tier II reporting is to make data collection a continuous priority first. 

Make more time to collect and validate compliance data 

Depending on chemical inventories, classifications (see the EPA List of Lists), Tier II reporting thresholds and the number of facilities a team must report, one or two months to gather needed compliance information for reporting isn’t always enough. To fully meet EPCRA guidelines, collected EHS data must also be validated and checked for completeness. Where multiple states are involved or when regulations have been updated or changed, EHS operations must additionally verify data applicability for Tier II reporting requirements

Almost every EHS professional we’ve worked with expresses how tracking down compliance data for a Tier II report is too time-consuming. Sometimes it can literally take weeks or even months, on top of other compliance and sustainability initiatives their team is responsible for. But given the consequences of constant regulatory changes, potential reporting violations, and non-compliance, data collection is a critical task — and EHS leaders must make time for their team to complete it. So instead of starting data collection in January, why not implement a more continuous process from August through December to have data ready to review in January?

 

Continuous EHS data collection for Tier II promotes informed decision making in response to constant changes in chemical inventories and regulatory requirements.


Standardize and streamline data collection tasks

The lack of time and a structured process for data collection makes Tier II reporting more difficult than it should be. However, rushing compliance reporting can result in invalidated data and missing details that regulators see as red flags. The following safeguards can be invaluable for EHS teams.

More specifically, streamline data collection tasks for distributed facilities — which is especially critical when sites are located in various states. Technology-wise, systems like Encamp let your team digitize and centralize data for product inventories, then standardize the process your facilities and EHS operations use to gather and validate that data. Once a process becomes a standardized function, making it repeatable is an inherent next step to streamlining data collection tasks over an extended period of time, as well as from one facility to the next.

Further, when technology is a single unified platform, it provides a foundation on which to integrate to existing enterprise systems, build data pipelines to individual facilities, and create a core data repository that all EHS data feeds into from these and other sources, such as spreadsheets and even emails. Archiving data this way, along with previous years’ Tier II reports, also gives you a comprehensive, auditable record that regulators appreciate.

Make Tier II reporting strategic across sites

At the facility level, site managers should be able to confirm their facility’s compliance responsibilities by fully determining current product inventory, including thresholds for each reportable chemical. Managers should then reach out to their respective State Emergency Response Commission (SERC) and Local Emergency Planning Committee (LEPC) to make sure the data being collected is in accordance with specific state and local requirements.

For EHS operations, this approach makes Tier II reporting more strategic across sites. More importantly, it provides a safety net to keep details from slipping through the cracks that could result in reporting non-compliance. 

Get evergreen tasks out of the way early

Again, the process for EHS data collection is better when collection and validation tasks are scheduled on an extended timeline. It sounds simple, but this is where starting data collection and completing associated tasks in August instead of January-February is a benefit for EHS professionals who are constantly stretched for time. Starting earlier in the year also fits the rule of thumb to have EHS data ready to review by early January for the March 1 Tier II filing date.

From August through December, for instance, focus on evergreen tasks that can be completed at any time: Track changes to reporting requirements at all levels. Confirm emergency contacts at your facilities and update their info as needed. Get in touch with appropriate SERCs, LEPCs and Fire Departments to answer any questions you have, and to build and maintain those relationships. Even review and update things like facility sitemaps and safety data sheets (SDSs). 

Come crunch time to start compiling your Tier II reports, evergreen tasks such as these will already be completed.

 

Data equals knowledge. The earlier you have data, the better position you’ll be in to make informed reporting decisions.


A Checklist to Simplify the Tier II Data Collection Process
 

In collecting EHS data for Tier II reporting, a checklist is a foundation to standardize and track data collection tasks across facilities. But the new Tier II checklist from Encamp’s regulatory compliance experts goes a step further. 

For continuous compliance throughout the year, it lets EHS operations prioritize data collection tasks from August to December while creating a data gathering process that’s streamlined, repeatable and efficient. The intent of this timeframe is to have all data collected the first week of January, while allowing compliance stakeholders to analyze and validate data as information is collected, eliminate gaps (and doubt) in the data itself, and make informed reporting decisions as part of the process. The extended timeframe for data collection further allows more time to compile and submit final Tier II reports before the March 1 due date for EPCRA. 

    1. Annual Tier II reports often rely on a variety of data managed by different groups of people: EHS leaders, teams, facility managers, and other stakeholders such as purchasing and shipping departments. Encamp’s centralized platform for direct data entry and tracking reduces the time and effort required to aggregate data across your organization — and do so accurately. 
    2. Along with collecting data for a new reporting year, EHS leaders must often compare it with reporting data from previous years to make sure any and all changes are accounted for. This is where leaders can confirm changes to product inventories, thresholds, regulations, emergency contacts at facilities level and so on. Comparing data lets them determine whether certain new EPCRA notifications must be submitted, or even when Tier II reports don’t need to be filed. 
    3. Environmental laws continually evolve and are regularly amended on both a state and local level, which makes it difficult to collect and track data specific to a compliance program’s requirements. With Encamp, automated threshold calculations for each product can be applied broadly across the organization rather than in a piecemeal fashion during report compilation. Adjusting threshold calculations because of a regulation or permit change is much more manageable when a set of calculations is automated and tracked in a single platform. 

Getting started on Tier II data collection

The following tasks for data collection are just one segment of Encamp’s Tier II checklist.

Evergreen tasks that you can do monthly:

One final, critical note: Sitemaps are important information for first responders to have in the case of an incident, as are SDSs and the info for facility emergency contacts. For every facility that falls under EPCRA requirements, updating this information anytime something changes is a crucial step that states often require for Tier II reports. 

Watch the March to March: Data Collection webinar on-demand for more expert insights on successful Tier II reporting.

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.

Consistently ensuring Tier II reporting accuracy for environmental compliance has long been an inexact science. Enter automation, and the emergence of EHS digital transformation, for more precise ways to collect compliance data, validate it, and file it in line with state and local Tier II reporting requirements. Just knowing the data you submit is accurate and void of non-compliance red flags is reason enough to automate the Tier II process. 

Yet the path to error-free Tier II reporting is constantly changing. For some common examples: Other pressing compliance initiatives pull EHS employees away from reporting. Tracking state and local regulations is an ongoing obstacle course, especially for updates. And as regulations get increasingly exact, verifying which ones apply to which facilities in which states and locales is mind-numbing.  

This is where automation goes further along the Tier II path than just final, accurate reports. Automating the process also lets EHS leaders:

Benefiting businesses of every kind

In the NAEM 2017 EHS&S Software Buyers Guide, 46% of EHS leaders said outdated software limited their operations’ compliance reporting effectiveness. It’s somewhat surprising, but that sentiment still holds true today: For many businesses and their EHS operations, a lack of technology like automation remains a roadblock to more efficient and accurate reporting. 

Also surprising is who these businesses are. Many are indeed ones that manufacture, store or use chemicals by the hundreds, with facilities in two or three states. But many others are ones like food and beverage chains, telecom companies, utilities, auto dealers and parts stores, repair and maintenance companies, and businesses that provide rental and leasing services. Or even gas stations and the oil & gas and pipeline transportation companies that provide the gas they sell. 

Such businesses typically maintain a low count of chemicals (by types and volume), and their business operations often include facilities across several states. Which means they’re still governed by state and local regulatory requirements for environmental compliance, must file Tier II reports — and can reap the same rewards of automating their reporting functions.   

3 More Positives of Automated Tier II Reporting 

This is where newer-generation environmental data management software comes in. By intersecting with EHS digital transformation to make automation possible, EHS stakeholders are able to enhance compliance reporting accuracy throughout the reporting process — in accordance with all applicable federal, state and local requirements, and all the way to final submissions, mailings to regulatory agencies, and even the process for paying filing fees.  

In between are three additional outcomes of automation that positively impact EHS operations as well as Tier II reporting.

1. Free up EHS resources for other environmental compliance priorities

Another aspect of environmental data management software and EHS digital transformation is the ability to digitize compliance data and centralize it in a single database. Automation takes over from there to reduce time spent inputting reporting information into different state portals, mailing hundreds of reports to local agencies (primarily LEPCs), and paying countless filing fees, among other tasks. The more EHS leaders and teams reduce their administrative burden, the more they can focus on other pressing strategic activities.

“For Tier II, in the past, we had about four EHS staff. But our recent focus on ESG has pulled some of those resources into other critical areas. Last year it was down to three, then it trimmed down to two. And this year (reporting year 2021), other than working with the people at each facility, I was down to me and you guys (at Encamp). So we’ve essentially replaced manpower with software.”

– Bob Johnson, Environmental Affairs Manager for Lennox International, which operates 250 distribution locations in 40 states

2. Navigate state and local regulations with expert support

Compliance updates and notifications specific to an EHS program area or local regulatory level present ongoing obstacles, especially when sites are located in various states. Automated alerts and notifications in an environmental data management software system help EHS leaders both track and navigate regulatory requirements (and even fee structures) from state to state and at local levels. This is particularly helpful in determining which sites are over threshold and must report for EHS compliance. 

“There’s no way to keep up with regulatory compliance issues across the U.S. and all 50 states. When you start getting into SERCs and LEPCs and their ever-changing requirements, it’s almost impossible because those requirements are changing so rapidly. So having a partner like Encamp to streamline (updates and notifications) is just phenomenal.”

– Denton Bruce, Senior Director of EHS at Bunzl Distribution, which maintains more than 200 facilities across the U.S. 

3. Manage regulatory and Tier II reporting requirements and mailings more effectively 

Go back to the issue of having to interpret constantly-changing regulatory requirements at the state and local level. It’s stressful, and can introduce a lot of doubt to the compliance reporting process. Reporting automation can actually help you be comfortable in managing complex regulations by verifying which ones apply to specific facilities and state and local agencies. Again, automated alerts and notifications serve notice to new regulations and others that have changed or been updated. 

And of course, automated reporting to all states and U.S. territories ensures that compliance reports and additional mailings meet all regulatory requirements and get to the right federal, state and local agencies.

Now, ask yourself a few questions

If any of the following situations are familiar, automating Tier II reporting tasks for EHS compliance should be a priority. Have you ever:

And here’s one last question: Did you ever think compliance reporting could be completed “at your convenience”? 

“Encamp has allowed us to modernize compliance reporting (largely via automation). Our compliance team is able to quickly review and prepare reports from our various locations across the country, at our convenience. There are summary screens which quickly organize the list of reports and the reporting status. Final reports are saved to a filing cabinet on a cloud-based system and are available any time we need them.” 

– Emily Z, EHS Manager (Capterra)

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.

Tier II reporting for EPCRA compliance rarely follows a smooth path for any EHS team. 

When we meet with EHS and Operations managers, for instance, most of them tell us their biggest hurdles for reporting are tracking down and validating data. Another common issue they point out is making sure each facility that’s reporting meets all state-level regulatory requirements before submission. Say you have 25 facilities across various states, does each site need to file a Tier II report? And if they do, where are they in the process? 

When facilities do need to report, keeping them on task for activities like data collection and confirming chemical inventories can be a daily hurdle. It’s worse when a company operates dozens or hundreds of facilities. As organizational size increases, so does the complexity of Tier II reporting — including tracking new requirements, accessing multiple state portals, and manually submitting reports and paying fees. 

“That’s a pain in itself,” these managers say, since the majority of them oversee sites in multiple states and local jurisdictions. 

For a lot of us at Encamp — especially our Compliance and Customer Success teams — we empathize. We come from EHS and environmental compliance backgrounds ourselves. So if you’re in charge of reporting, we want to help you however we can.

“Given all the things we have to deal with for Tier II, how can Encamp help us streamline our data management tasks and make reporting easier?”

Fair question… and one we love to answer. When you use Encamp’s Tier II Reporting module, you can standardize data collection across sites, track reporting progress for every facility, ensure reporting accuracy with built in data validation, and automate reporting and submissions across states and territories as well as local agencies. 

In short, you simplify your Tier II reporting by streamlining every step that leads up to the final submission. 

Watch the video here (it’s just under 3 minutes) to see what simplified Tier II reporting looks like, and then connect the dots in your reporting lifecycle on the other side.

A quick tour of Encamp’s Tier II Reporting module

 

The Tier II Reporting module and your reporting lifecycle

For most (but not all) companies, the reporting lifecycle largely falls into four segments: Data collection, data validation, data input, and data submissions. If there’s a need in your organization to manage these segments comprehensively at the facility level, our Tier II Reporting module helps you do it in a streamlined, automated manner.

For your company’s annual reporting lifecycle, use the following sections to gauge how effectively the Tier II Reporting module could benefit your reporting practices and compliance program. (Note that we’ve added the months/ranges as a general timeline for when reporting activities typically occur. )

Data collection for report preparations

Tier II Reporting module actions

Data validation for reporting accuracy

Tier II Reporting module actions

Data input at the state level

Tier II Reporting module actions

Data submissions to meet the Tier II deadline

Tier II Reporting module actions

You’ve reached the finish line! This is where your nightmares of state portals come to an end.  

To recap

In one place with the Tier II Reporting module, you automate Tier II reporting and submissions and manage facility-level data, regulatory requirements and compliance reports for every facility in your company. You also verify reporting requirements per facility, create a single source of truth for reporting, and validate and review data at every step of report preparation for each applicable site. 

EHS leaders also get a 360° view of each facility’s reporting activities and progress: Number and percent of reports completed, the number of days to March 1, facilities that have already filed, and ones that still need to start the process. Encamp then automatically submits your Tier II reports electronically to all respective states, and pays filing fees on your company’s behalf, including for SERCs, LEPCs, and fire departments. 

The result is complete confidence in your submitted reports — and a good night’s sleep.

Even better, with automated data management and environmental compliance reporting — and in a streamlined and consistent manner year-over-year — you make Tier II reporting repeatable, faster, simpler, and more accurate. Because at Encamp, our goal has always been to eliminate the pains of Tier II reporting. 

Happy reporting!

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.

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