The Ultimate Tier II Checklist

Your All-Seasons Guide to Tier II Reporting

Tier II reporting is challenging even to the most experienced compliance teams, with managing data seen as the most significant hurdle. We have transformed the compliance programs for fast-growth enterprises across the US with an expert-guided proactive approach designed by our in-house regulatory compliance experts to improve process efficiency, ensure data accuracy, and allow EHS professionals to have increased foresight to make data-driven compliance decisions.

What are the benefits of a proactive compliance program?

Download “The Ultimate Tier II Checklist” to learn more.

 

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.

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.

As if environmental compliance reporting isn’t confusing enough. What chemicals, for instance, does the EPA consider “hazardous.” If they are hazardous, what are their Tier II reporting thresholds? And why do Tier II reporting requirements (a.k.a., Tier 2 reporting requirements) for states and local jurisdictions constantly change? 

When EPA reports are inaccurate, incomplete, or never even filed when they’re required to be, the last thing compliance leaders need are notifications of non-compliance and potential EPA violation fines. Nor do many EHS teams have the time and resources to spend on remediating EPA violations, instead of working on higher priority initiatives like sustainability. 

Within the scope of environmental compliance reporting, the best way to avoid any violation is to first understand what constitutes non-compliance. Equally vital is understanding how proper reporting can guard against your organization being reported in environmental complaints or for a company violation of some kind.

What Is an EPA Violation Where Reporting is Concerned?

There are far too many potential causes of compliance and Tier 2 reporting violations to delve into here. There’s also no “official” EPA violations list, per se. But a good example of documented violation triggers comes from an EPA alert that took effect in November 2021 for Tier 2 reporting year 2022.

To address chemical storage concerns for EPCRA, the EPA issued an Enforcement Alert on the Risks of Improper Storage of Hazardous Chemicals at Chemical Warehouses and Distribution Facilities. The Alert noted that businesses filing compliance reports constantly failed to:

Among these concerns, the failure to submit a Tier II form is clearly a violation. Less clear, however, is an issue such as an up-to-date Safety Data Sheet (SDS). 

Safety Data Sheets are often outdated

Even when SDSs are filed as needed to meet Tier 2 reporting requirements, they’re often outdated and don’t meet OSHA’s modified Hazard Communication Standard (HCS). The HCS guideline in turn conforms to the United Nations’ Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals (GHS). Given that compliance stakeholders must sometimes manage hundreds of SDSs for their product inventory, then, HCS and GHS guidelines can easily get overlooked and be cited as an EPA report violation. 

Worse than a reporting violation, outdated Safety Data Sheets can put first responders and communities in danger when the latest safety information for hazardous chemicals isn’t fully made available.

But a much worse consequence is that out-of-date SDSs can put first responders and local communities in danger when the latest safety information for hazardous chemicals isn’t fully made available. Fortunately, EHS-based technology can now actually extract and update the information in SDSs to ensure the information they contain is accurate. 

Other common errors in EPA reports that can lead to violations 

Outdated and insufficient SDSs are just one of many common Tier II reporting errors EHS teams encounter every year. For program areas like EPCRA and RCRA, such errors often result from having to interpret EPA reporting requirements that change constantly — especially at the state and local level — or that aren’t always clear to begin with. A good example is how to report mixtures for lead-acid batteries and the confusion it can lead to. 

A lack of visibility

Another root cause of reporting errors is not having adequate visibility into information and compliance data. Along with SDSs, for example, errors in chemical inventory lists and reporting thresholds can easily go undetected if not monitored regularly. Outdated emergency contact and site plan info at facilities likewise often goes undetected until it’s pointed out in an EPA notice of violation. Like outdated SDSs in the event of a disaster, not being able to reach an emergency contact or knowing where hazardous chemicals are stored at a site can put first responders at risk. 

The EPA reportable quantity list

Other frequent errors can be traced to the EPA reportable quantity list, commonly known as the List of Lists, for chemicals reported under EPCRA, the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) and the Clean Air Act (CAA). One common issue stemming from the list is that businesses incorrectly mark chemicals as extremely hazardous substances (EHSs). Here again, a lack of visibility into chemical inventories can result in chemicals being mislabeled or miscounted by way of quantity. 

Further, especially in distributed companies, chemicals often tend to get reported inconsistently across facilities, leaving chemical inventories to get reported inaccurately. By digitizing data for chemical lists, inventories, threshold quantities and so on, compliance leaders and EHS teams can more effectively manage their product inventory and properly identify chemicals to avoid non-compliance violations. 

Or, as was the case in the following EPA violation, a company can simply fail to report certain chemicals when required.

EPA violation fines and settlements: One recent example

In one recent example of EPA cases and settlements, the agency took action against a chemical warehousing company in June 2022 for “unsafe practices and inadequate reporting.” Environmental complaints in the case centered on “alleged” violations of both the CAA’s General Duty Clause (GDC) and EPCRA requirements for reporting years 2019 and 2020. (The recurring reporting violations likely did not sit well with EPA inspectors.)

Specifically, the warehousing company failed to report several EHSs under EPCRA Section 311 and 312 chemical inventory reporting requirements, and in line with CAA GDC requirements applicable to “sources producing, processing, handling, or storing EHSs.” As part of the EPA settlement, the company agreed to pay a penalty of $109,635, and to certify compliance with all of its CAA GDC and EPCRA requirements under the watchful eye of the EPA. The company also likely damaged its reputation — as a business, as a member of the community, and as a steward of the environment. 

Could more proactive environmental compliance reporting processes and guardrails like data visibility and automated regulatory alerts have helped prevent this particular EPA case? Most likely, yes. And as far as EPA violation fines go, the six-figure penalty in this case was steep, but not uncommon.

Are EPA violations getting more costly? 

In a compliance snapshot of EPA reports and non-compliance violations from Q4 2020, 150 settlement agreements for EPA violations cases resulted in total financial penalties of nearly $4.6 million for the timeframe. Most notable among them was one fuel distribution company that was fined more than $1.3 million when it violated the EPCRA Section 313 Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) and “failed to report the releases of several TRI-listed chemicals at its terminals, denying the public access to this information.” Yet again, such a failure put first responders and the nearby area at risk.  

Are steeper financial punishments like this warranted for companies that get cited for an EPA report violation? That’s really up to the Environmental Protection Agency administrators. But in the instance of the chemical warehousing company that failed to meet its EPCRA obligations, at least, the nearly $110,000 penalty they paid was part of a new EPA commandment.   

As EPA New England Regional Administrator David W. Cash put it, “EPA was particularly concerned that emergency responders were not provided adequate information about the type and amount of chemicals stored on site, and that the facility is located in an area with environmental justice concerns.

“With this settlement, EPA is sending a strong message to companies that deal with dangerous chemicals — they have an obligation to comply with environmental laws in order to protect the communities around them.” 

Congress enacted EPCRA almost 40 years ago to protect local communities and emergency responders from potential accidents at facilities that manufacture, store, distribute or use hazardous chemicals. That’s why environmental compliance reporting has mattered since then, and still matters now.

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.

Accurate and timely EHS compliance requires reporting data to be both visible and clean, particularly at the facility level. When every facility’s compliance information meets the exact Tier II reporting requirements for program areas like EPCRA and RCRA, EHS and corporate leaders can rest easy. But when leaders don’t trust the data their facilities are reporting, they lose sleep. The penalties for non-compliance, after all, can get expensive.

Where dispersed facilities are involved, creating clarity in the compliance data you report for each site is the key to avoiding non-compliance violations. And clarity begins by centralizing the data for all facility locations — which starts by centralizing the way data is collected itself. Enterprise-wide, this enables stakeholders at every level of the EHS compliance function to:

  1. Increase data visibility across sites
  2. Ensure control throughout the compliance process
  3. Understand reporting nuances at all regulatory levels to stay in compliance

Centralize Data Collection for Visibility & Tier II Clarity 

More than any other aspect of compliance reporting, those three outcomes (rewards!) make centralizing how you collect, process and validate required data for every facility a must. So is keeping data in full view at every step.

Only 35% of executives have a high level of trust in their organization’s data. Source: Guardians of Trust, Forrester Consulting and KPMG International

A Tier II reporting need for businesses of all kinds

Businesses of all kinds maintain different facilities for production, distribution, fulfillment and the like, and often house hazardous chemicals of some type in those facilities. Even businesses that don’t always immediately come to mind. Think of non-store retailers, merchant wholesalers, general merchandisers, and companies in the food and beverage industry whose operations are often dispersed. Others could be businesses specializing in building materials, garden equipment and supplies, warehousing and storage, truck transportation, and rental and leasing services. 

While businesses such as these don’t manufacture hazardous chemicals, they do typically use and store them. That means the business is responsible for reporting chemicals included on the EPA List of Lists, and must do so with complete and accurate compliance data. 

Common problems for EHS compliance data management

For many businesses with distributed facilities, one glaring compliance reporting problem is siloed information sources and very few established data pipelines to each site they operate. Another problem is the lack of a single, central repository to organize and verify collected data for Tier II reports. Other issues? Manual data collection and disorganized spreadsheets. Little or no data visibility. Not fully understanding reporting requirements for respective state and local agencies. Even employee turnover can interrupt data collection and processing tasks and schedules.

Given hurdles like these, digital transformation firm Softengi — which provides many of its services to the EHS industry — has uncovered what they term “some sad statistics” for EHS teams in general:

There’s a better way to process data for compliance and Tier II reporting. 

Central Data Collection Across Facilities: 3 Rewards

Especially for data that lives in different places, such as spreadsheets and data systems that aren’t fully integrated, gaining greater control over information helps ensure that Tier II reports are accurate, as well as auditable. At one end of this effort is data collection. At the other is final Tier II reporting. In between is keeping data visible and being able to monitor it for accuracy throughout the process, all within a single continuous view. 

This is where environmental data management software can make a positive impact. The aim is to centralize data collection functions and establish a single data repository for all information across EHS compliance operations. Then for each facility you oversee, it becomes easier to track and access all required compliance information, from digitally storing safety data sheets (SDSs) to threshold determinations and proof of compliance.

The result is improved data processing for EHS compliance, and better clarity and understanding for Tier II reporting by enhancing these three aspects of the compliance function.

1. Increase data visibility across sites

Again, centralizing information from dispersed facilities into one place increases data visibility for tracking and validation. Think of things like confirming chemical inventories, determining thresholds, and verifying SDSs.

2. Ensure control throughout the compliance process

In terms of compliance, the process is a chain of events: Product characterization, data verification, and final report submissions. Having control over the entire EHS compliance process is imperative to ensure the quality, completeness and accuracy of data throughout all phases of data collection and report compilation, not just at the final submission stage. 

“The voracious appetite for data is a challenge in general,” according to Bob Johnson, Environmental Affairs Manager for Lennox International, which operates 250 distribution locations in 40 states. “And then you add multiple systems, various types of database management, and a proliferation of (state) reporting portals. Trying to stay ahead of it all is a huge challenge.”

Making sure the process and chain of events are connected and run efficiently helps streamline Tier II reporting as a whole.

3. Understand reporting nuances at all regulatory levels to stay in compliance 

When sites are located in various states, tracking compliance updates and notifications specific to an EHS program area or local regulatory level is an ongoing obstacle. Automated alerts and notifications in an environmental data management software system help EHS leaders navigate regulatory requirements (and even fee structures) from state to state and at local levels. 

Now, consider one more stat from a study by business data and reporting solutions provider Workiva, published on esgtoday.com: 

More than 70% of executives surveyed across multiple industries and regions reported they lack confidence in their organizations’ own ESG reporting, and nearly two thirds feel unprepared to meet ESG goals and disclosure requirements.

Most EHS leaders who juggle Tier II reporting data across different sites feel the same way.

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 EHS program areas for environmental compliance, sustainability applies in two ways. Naturally the first is complying with regulatory requirements for hazardous chemicals and waste to contribute to a sustainable environment. The second, is making risk management and compliance reporting a more efficient and sustainable process for EHS operations. 

Automated notifications and compliance reporting drive sustainability from both ends of this EHS program spectrum. As importantly, they provide a collective safeguard against non-compliance violations.   

Reasons for Automated Notifications and Reporting

Tracking updates and notifications within EHS program areas

A notable obstacle for many enterprises with distributed facilities is tracking compliance updates and notifications specific to an EHS program area or regulatory level. Especially when sites are located in various states, monitoring changes in each facility on a continuous basis is demanding, if not impossible. 

While updates to regulations and exceeding thresholds based on site-specific data are common triggers for notifications, so are actions such as adding or updating a facility’s emergency personnel and contact info. Outdated or incorrect facility contact information is in fact one of the most common errors for compliance reporting. Triggers like these and others can add up, which is where the value of automation for notifications comes in. (Read more in the Encamp eBook: Guided Environmental Compliance.)

By as much as 98%, based on Encamp customer data, automated actions reduce the number of facilities that are behind or out-of-date on compliance updates and notifications. Technology research firm Gartner offers additional insight on the value prop. For businesses in general, Gartner analysts predict that 70% of organizations will track data more rigorously for accuracy and quality in 2022, reducing operational risks and costs by 60%. Applied to EHS operations, reducing the risks of non-compliance and costly fines is always a positive.

Gartner analysts predict that 70% of organizations will track data more rigorously for accuracy and quality in 2022, reducing operational risks and costs by 60%.
– “12 Actions to Improve Your Data Quality”

To take advantage of automation, the most effective way is with technology that incorporates rules-based triggers and automates the process of recognizing necessary updates or notifications. Even better is when that technology also automatically submits updates or notifications in the right format and with audit-ready documentation. 

Setting sustainability goals

According to Program Manager Katie Wascom of Encamp’s Compliance & Customer Success team, automated notifications can also serve other critical purposes. 

“They can help tremendously in setting sustainability goals, especially regarding waste,” Katie said. “If an EHS team is able to accurately and timely capture chemical amounts on site (using notifications), including changes within a certain percentage, they can proactively tackle on-site management. This in turn sets the site up for success because they’re always prepared.”

Case in point: One chemical manufacturer and valued Encamp customer reported that “We were able to bulk upload chemicals, and add notifications for changes over 10% to notify (EHS staff) and have a meeting to discuss.” The notifications have helped the company identify potential threshold issues and address them accordingly.

“We were able to bulk upload chemicals, and add notifications for changes over 10% to notify (EHS staff) and have a meeting to discuss.”
– Large U.S. chemical manufacturer

Another potential aspect of goal-setting for sustainability comes from Julie Ragains, Encamp’s director of Customer Success and Fulfillment. “Imagine a notification to automatically alert you when something is quite different from your previous year’s report.” 

The issue in such a case could be the amount being reported for a product that, when compared to the previous year’s compliance report, has increased or decreased below a regulated threshold. As Julie explained, in a scenario like this, an automated notification could conceivably help the company avoid a non-compliance violation for submitting inaccurate data in their latest Tier II report.  

Automating task suggestions

A bit of background first on the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) for hazardous waste. RCRA requires such wastes to be properly managed from the point of generation — the “generator” — to the point of final destruction. Generator categories are based on the amount of waste generated per facility per month (i.e., a threshold).

An activity that causes a generator to exceed the threshold for its normal generator category for that month can be unplanned or planned. For an unplanned event, a company must notify regulatory authorities within 72 hours of the activity. When the event is planned, notification is required 30 days before. Jess Martin, a compliance program associate at Encamp who has an extensive background in RCRA, brought up the concept of automated task suggestions for when a generator exceeds their compliant generation limit.

“They could evaluate and either determine it was an unplanned episodic generation event and submit the proper forms for that,” she explained, “or completely update their generator status and submit necessary forms.”

Jess adds that tracking waste that’s generated, shipped, or both on a monthly or annual basis is instrumental in reaching sustainability goals. “You can’t track progress when you don’t have the data,” she said. For notifications, “the automation aspect could come from syncing with existing data pipelines, such as waste vendor data or internal waste tracking software.”

Improving Tier II reporting and data quality

Another common problem in many EHS program areas is data quality. Ideally, compliance data and Tier II reports should undergo QA/QC checks throughout the report compilation process. But the reality is that submissions are often hurried to meet due dates and quality goes largely unchecked. Are reports being filed with the right data? Going to the right agencies? In the right format? On time?

Along with standardizing processes and making them repeatable and sustainable across EHS program areas, automation reduces the “friction” of manual work — like pulling compliance data together from scattered sources and constantly checking the quality of information they have. 

Within the reporting process, automation can be applied to: 

Data collection

Data validation

Task notifications

Report submissions 

Some further numbers to confirm automation’s value: Based on Encamp’s  customer data for reporting, automation helps them reduce the time to complete and file compliance reports by more than 90% — and often eliminates 100% of errors before they occur. Relatedly in a study by Smartsheet, with employees in multiple industries estimating that a quarter of their workweek is spent collecting, copying, and “cleaning data,” 66% said automation would help reduce data errors. And finally, a study from Gartner research has found that organizations believe poor data quality to be responsible for an average of $15 million per year in losses.

In more ways than one for the environment and EHS program sustainability, automation is invaluable.

Organizations believe poor data quality is responsible for an average of $15 million per year in losses.
– Gartner

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.

Credible and trustworthy data is central to an organization’s environmental compliance. Every day. Because for hazardous chemicals, hazardous waste, or both, state and local regulations don’t allow days off. The risk of disastrous events and the potential impact to the community and environment is too high — and too constant. 

In line with a business’s compliance program areas and Tier II reporting requirements, compliance information must therefore be consistently up to date, validated, complete, and accurate. Which means monitoring and collecting relevant data should be a continuous effort, right?

Unfortunately for many EHS operations, continuous data collection isn’t always doable, for notable reasons: Multiple facilities, often in different states. A shortage of trained EHS staff, particularly at the facility level, where non-EHS employees are forced to handle compliance tasks they’re not familiar with. But the biggest roadblock for gathering data is scattered data sources, the lack of a central database, and no established information flows or pipelines. 

The result is that data needed for environmental compliance isn’t always available. And when it isn’t, it can invite non-compliance and potentially costly penalties and reputational damage.

Achieving Continuous Environmental Compliance

A much stronger safeguard for environmental compliance is to build a centralized compliance foundation to manage and monitor data in one place — continually. Equally vital is a continuous data collection process tied to the compliance foundation you establish. The purpose of these measures is twofold:

  1. Businesses and their EHS teams drive continuous environmental compliance via a single source of truth specific to applicable program areas, and
  2. Should the business scale and add or acquire facilities, a compliance foundation’s course of persistent data collection and improved data management, quality, visibility, and control supports growth and continuous environmental compliance accordingly. 

These measures are also the first two steps of Encamp’s Guided Environmental Compliance method, which additionally introduces digital transformation to compliance data management and the reporting process.

From our experts: “Technology and best practices must work together” 

Although technology plays a key role in achieving continuous environmental compliance, best practices for data collection and building your respective compliance foundations are just as key. No one knows this better than Megan Walters, VP of Compliance & Customer Success at Encamp, and Eugene Simonds, Encamp’s Compliance Program Manager. They discuss the uppermost best practices for continuous environmental compliance in the sections that follow.  

Establish your environmental compliance foundations 

Without sound compliance foundations for your company’s program areas, according to Megan, the biggest problem for environmental compliance and reporting is poor data quality. The accuracy of information suffers due largely to data not being fully visible and monitored on a continuous basis. Subsequently, compliance reports that are inaccurate or incomplete because of unchecked or unvalidated data pose glaring risks for non-compliance — and for the financial, operational and reputational penalties that can come with it.

A worse outcome is that leaders across the organization begin to question whether environmental compliance efforts are able to meet the requirements of federal, state and local regulatory agencies. 

Building a reliable compliance foundation for each regulatory program area, whether EPCRA, RCRA, the Clean Air Act, or the Clean Water Act, should therefore become a priority for compliance operations. This is also a first step towards environmental digital transformation. 

Where technology and environmental digital transformation comes in

“Within a given compliance foundation, data should consist of all existing corporate, facility, and personnel information relating to that program area,” Eugene said. “Data should also be organized in a way that’s readily visible and available to those who need it, enterprise-wide.” 

Technology and environmental digital transformation come into play here in the form of digitized data and a single centralized system for managing compliance information. (Encamp is such a unified data system). When data is organized in one centralized location, the unified system serves as your organization’s single source of truth for compliance operations and continual environmental compliance alike. Within the system, digitized data is additionally more visible and easier to manage electronically.

For data collection and establishing a compliance foundation, Megan suggests making these best practices a staple of your compliance program:

For a centralized data system, also consider the various data it should house. According to Eugene, key data for continuous environmental compliance should include: 

(Note that when Encamp is your chosen data system, a dedicated Encamp Customer Success Manager (CSM) works with your environmental compliance and operations teams to collect existing data during initial onboarding. Centralizing data into the single Encamp portal then sets the tone for the system to become your compliance foundation for a particular program area.)

Greater control of environmental compliance information

“The premise of any unified data system and centralizing environmental compliance information is to increase control of your data, both in collecting it and in building compliance foundations,“ Eugene added. Encamp is built on this premise, and even extends control to being able to push compliance data to all relevant regulatory databases at a state or federal level. Completing this critical step means you no longer need to manually access or update information in individual state and federal systems, which can be especially time-consuming. 

For new facilities, scalability and best practices are built in

If your organization adds facilities (whether through company growth or acquisition), it’s important to have a robust and flexible system that scales and correspondingly makes changes to your compliance foundation, including all places in which data lives at a state and federal level. As an inherent change management system for all new sites, your environmental compliance operations are able to:

Technology research firm Gartner predicts that in 2022, 70% of organizations will rigorously track data quality levels, improving quality by as much as 60% to significantly reduce operational risks and costs.

Establish continuous data collection

“Collecting data for environmental compliance purposes is hard enough as it is” as Eugene also pointed out. “But when data lives in different locations such as spreadsheets and separate databases, information is harder to obtain in a sustained manner.” For compliance foundations and continual environmental compliance, this makes creating a constant, real-time data monitoring and collection process all the more critical. 

Eugene’s recommended top best practices to establish data collection on a continuous basis are to:  

Whereas you once had countless spreadsheets being passed around via email and internal drives, establishing a continuous data monitoring and collection process allows all relevant compliance data for each program area to be collected in a systematic and largely automated manner. 

“For environmental compliance in a continuous manner,” as Eugene said, “the end result is greater data visibility and control, with less effort and fewer errors.”

Standardizing the data collection process across all locations ensures that needed data is collected more accurately and in real time. According to a recent study, 66% of operations professionals cited automation as being key in reducing data errors.

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.

Guided Environmental Compliance

Your Path to Digital Transformation

Even with modern EHS solutions, environmental compliance remains harder than it needs to be. There’s seldom a roadmap to follow, nor enough time and support.

To guide enterprises and EHS professionals in the cusp of transforming their environmental compliance programs with digital transformation, Encamp utilizes a blended method of high-tech solutions and high-touch expert support we call Guided Environmental Compliance – 5 steps that give structure and success to complex regulatory programs.

Download our informative ebook, “Guided Environmental Compliance” to learn more.

 

The EPA guidelines on how lead-acid batteries are to be reported for EPCRA and Tier II reporting can be one of the most confusing aspects of environmental compliance. For instance, do compliance and operations teams and facilities report a lead-acid battery as a mixture, or as a component?

Adding to the complexity, certain states like Texas, California, and Oregon, have published their own reporting guidance for lead-acid batteries, so it’s no wonder confusion reigns over issues such as the mixture-or-component question. 

Lead-Acid Batteries: The Ultimate Reporting Guide 

Encamp has just published the 2nd edition of its Lead-Acid Batteries: The Ultimate Reporting Guide, and it answers the most common Tier II questions about lead-acid batteries for you. Where do these batteries fit in the on-site chemical inventory and threshold equation for Tier II reporting? What should the notification include when you report damaged lead-acid batteries? And of course, how do you settle the mixture or component issue? — which we’ve detailed here.

 

Mixture reporting vs. component reporting

According to EPA, there are two ways of reporting lead-acid batteries for Tier II. The agency’s recommended approach states that a facility should be consistent in reporting between 311 (SDS Reporting) and 312 (Chemical Inventory Reporting). EPA also states that the submission of the Tier II form can be used for 311 purposes for hazardous chemicals brought on-site between October 1 and December 31 of a calendar year, although you must confirm this with your SERC and LEPC.

For 311, when a new chemical is brought or produced on-site and it exceeds its threshold:

Based on EPA’s guidance, reporting between 311 and 312 should be consistent:

Mixture reporting

When reporting lead-acid batteries as a mixture, be sure to include physical and health hazards associated with every mixture component listed on the SDS. Depending on what state your facility is in and what reporting system they have chosen to use, you may have to report the overall mixture as an Extremely Hazardous Substance (EHS) or the mixture component (sulfuric acid, in this case) as an EHS.

Tier2 Submit

If you’re required to use EPA’s Tier2 Submit software to file your Tier II report, here’s what your lead-acid battery will look like reported as a mixture.

EHS is marked as Yes because EPA requires the overall chemical to be marked as an EHS if one of the mixture components is an EHS.

E-plan

If your SERC uses E-plan for submissions, the system will require the overall chemical to be marked as an EHS, just like Tier2 Submit. Below is an excerpt from the E-plan instructions.

Tier II Manager

If your SERC (or LEPC) uses Tier II Manager as their portal, you have the option of indicating that the lead-acid batteries contain an EHS and that it exceeds the TPQ. Below is a screenshot from a Tier II Manager report.

Component reporting

If you decide to report the sulfuric acid separately, the reporting is a little more straightforward. Since sulfuric acid is an EHS, you will simply check the EHS box on whichever system your SERC uses.

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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