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 Outdated or incorrect facility contact information is in fact one of the most common errors for compliance reporting.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By as much as 98%, based on Encamp customer data, automated actions reduce the number of facilities that are behind or out-of-date on compliance updates and notifications.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.

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.

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

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

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

Top 10 Errors
Checklist

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 Outdated or incorrect contact information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 Out-of-date Safety Data Sheets (SDSs)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

Guided Environmental Compliance

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

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

Common Tier II reporting errors in detail

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

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

#2: Chemicals are reported inconsistently across sites/facilities

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

#3: Chemical inventory is reported incorrectly or inaccurately

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

#4: Outdated or incorrect contact information

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

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

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

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

#6: Incorrectly-marked extremely hazardous substances

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

#7: Increased reporting fees for incorrectly-marked chemicals

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

#8: Out-of-date Safety Data Sheets 

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

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

#9: Wrong hazard codes in reports

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

#10: Mixture components are wrong

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

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

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

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

Transforming the way enterprises stay in compliance

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

We call it Better for You, Better for Nature. PR campaign? Nah. Encamp is just doing its part to help replenish the environment by planting trees. The initiative actually stems from Encamp’s  ongoing mission to create a world where good for business can equal good for the environment.

And while it’s only one tree at a time, approximately 18,289 new saplings have been planted since 2018 on behalf of Encamp, our customers, and our employees. It’s a count we intend to grow as our company and base of loyal customers does.

How it works, and why we’re doing it

The gist is, for every Tier II report that gets filed through our environmental management system, Encamp makes a donation to have a tree planted somewhere in the 50 states. So first, thank you to every one of our customers who file a Tier II report from those states. Knowing every report is better for nature, please keep them coming.

The next big thanks go to our friends at One Tree Planted, who do all the critical work. They grow new saplings, plant them, maintain them, and then tell how these new trees are benefitting our planet. One Tree Planted is definitely better for nature…

From One Tree’s website: Trees help clean the air we breathe, filter the water we drink, and provide habitat to over 80% of the world’s terrestrial biodiversity. They also absorb harmful carbon from the atmosphere and are key ingredients in 25% of all medicines. Trees even provide jobs to more than 1.6 billion people around the world.

About One Tree Planted

They’re an environmental charity “dedicated to making it easier for individuals and businesses to give back to the environment.” Their mission is to let companies like Encamp help create a healthier climate, protect biodiversity, and aid reforestation efforts around the world. “All by planting trees!”

Recently, Diana Chaplin, who’s the Canopy Director at One Tree Planted, was nice enough to host a lunch & learn for everyone at Encamp. She filled us in on the non-profit’s six new pillars of reforestation — Air, Water, Biodiversity, Social Impact, Health, Climate — as well as some updated stats.

Since One Tree Planted started in 2014 and planted 150,000 trees its first full year, their numbers have grown significantly. By 2019, for instance, they were able to get 4 million additional trees in the ground worldwide. In 2020, the count was more than 10 million trees planted in 28 countries. And by year-end 2021, the number was well over 23.5 million trees in 42 countries.

Restoring the ecosystem

As Chaplin said, “One Tree’s efforts serve as prep work to restore the ecosystem after wild fires, floods, other natural disasters, and especially after mining sites are closed.” The process has also become increasingly sophisticated, she said.

For reforestation, as one example, One Tree staff now use drones and work with local authorities to more closely to match tree species to geographic areas and climates. Species are also determined based on criteria such as changes in land use, expansion, mining, and, of course, climate change.

Where Encamp fits in

In just one example according to Chaplin, Encamp’s backing led to nearly 3,300 trees being planted for forest recovery efforts in California’s San Joaquin Valley after fires and related disasters in the latter part of 2021. Mostly, the recovery is helping landowners in the Valley to both restore their land and reestablish healthy forests. Beyond that, Chaplin noted, the new trees will also help stabilize the local climate, improve water and soil quality, reduce the risk of future fires, and improve habitat connectivity for native wildlife.

“We’ve been committed to aligning our business goals with environmental goals from the very beginning,” said Luke Jacobs, Encamp’s CEO and co-founder. “Even before we had paying customers, we were committed to the idea of planting a tree for every Tier II report we file.”

“Our mission at Encamp aligns well with the goals of One Tree Planted,” Jacobs added, “and we’re excited to keep striving towards a world where good for business can equal good for the environment.”

One tree at a time and better for nature. We’re proud to be contributing to One Tree’s total.

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.

Your Guide to Proactive Environmental Compliance

Eliminating the Risks of Non-Compliance

Managing environmental compliance isn’t just about eliminating all the things that can go wrong, it’s about understanding all the things that need to go right.

Your Guide to Proactive Environmental Compliance offers best practices to help EHS teams get out ahead of reporting, and to make sure non-compliance and its repercussions never set foot in your business. Download it today to learn how you can proactively:

 

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) was established more than 50 years ago for a reason. And yet we continue to see reports of environmental non-compliance and serious violations of EPA rules on a routine basis, especially for hazardous materials and waste streams. 

But it’s even more troubling to read stories in which companies flagrantly ignore regulatory requirements. For whatever reasons, they choose to take a path of risk and not one of proactive environmental compliance management that could save them a lot of financial pain and PR headaches. 

Three of Many Non-Compliance Cases

The following accounts of environmental non-compliance — and the risk and consequences that come with it — are just three that have hit the newswire halfway through 2021. And trust us, there are many more stories just like these.  

“Ohio industrial company accused of illegally storing hazardous waste”

What a way to start this article from Waste Today magazine. “Arrest warrants have been issued for the operators of an industrial plating company who were accused of illegally storing tens of thousands of pounds of hazardous waste in the company’s rundown building….” (We added the italics for emphasis.)

As reported, the business fell into financial ruin years ago and the site has since been targeted for cleanup by the state and federal EPA. While records show the violations as being linked to the site’s previous operator, they’ve “mostly gone uncorrected for years.” For one example of environmental non-compliance, Ohio EPA investigators found at least 38,000 pounds of hazardous waste, some of which had been at the site since 2016.

Among the full findings identified in the EPA’s April 28, 2021 notice of violation were these other infractions:

When consequences run deeper than just financial penalties

Many of the chemicals and heavy metals found at this facility are on the EPA’s List of Lists and are subject to regulatory requirements for EPCRA, CERCLA, RCRA, and Section 112(r) of the Clean Air Act. And even though the violations were linked to the site’s previous operator, this company and its operators should have known they were in violation and risked substantial fines and a lost reputation for their business. 

But is it worth going to jail? No, it isn’t.  

“EPA Uses Emergency Powers to Protect St. Croix Communities and Orders Limetree Bay Refinery to Pause Operations” 

An environmental non-compliance action is pretty serious when EPA officials pull out the agency’s “Emergency Powers.” It’s worse when they announce it in an EPA News Release (which was published in the Washington Post). But it’s really bad when EPA suspends a business’s operations for 60 days, and possibly longer. Yet that’s what EPA did to protect public health.

So what are the alleged violations? According to EPA, since February of 2021, the Limetree Bay refinery experienced “multiple major mishaps resulting in significant air pollutant and oil releases.” Not a single mishap, mind you, but multiple violations over a roughly 3-month period.

According to the EPA release (condensed here): “Under its legal authorities in Clean Air Act Section 303, EPA may take this urgent measure when an entity’s actions are substantially endangering public health, welfare, or the environment. Limetree Bay’s repeated incidents raise significant environmental justice concerns, which are a priority for EPA.

EPA Administrator Michael S. Regan had this to say in the news release (condensed again): “These repeated incidents have been and remain totally unacceptable. Today, I have ordered the refinery to immediately pause all operations until we can be assured they can operate in accordance with laws that protect public health. EPA will not hesitate to use its authority to enforce the law and protect people from dangerous pollution where they work, live, and play.”

Two strikes: Losing business, and being under continued EPA watch

In April 2021, EPA issued a notice of violation to Limetree Bay for alleged violations of the Clean Air Act. No fines were issued at the time, but pursuant to the Clean Air Act, the order to pause operations was to remain in effect for 60 days — unless extended through the United States’ filing of a civil action in court. 

Any business operation shutting down for 60 days — or more — is never good for revenue. In this case, a potential civil action also no doubt puts the business in serious litigation mode and reputational damage control, meaning more costs for legal fees and PR. But a scarier outcome is knowing you’ll forever be under the watchful eye of EPA for further violations and environmental non-compliance.     

“Seafood processor agrees to pay $220,000 penalty for ammonia violations”

So yet another violation of the Clean Air Act and EPCRA, and this time the penalty for environmental non-compliance was a direct hit in the pocketbook. As Cooling Post reported in May 2021, Northern Pelagic Group (NorPel) agreed to pay a $220,000 penalty for alleged violations regarding its ammonia refrigeration system at its New Bedford, Massachusetts, seafood processing facility. 

Specifically, NorPel violated the chemical accident prevention requirements of the federal CAA, as well as the hazardous chemical reporting requirements under EPCRA. EPA also alleged that the company failed to file a risk management plan (RMP) with EPA. RMPs are required for facilities that manage, maintain or produce hazardous chemicals requiring stringent management to ensure public safety. 

EPA further alleged that “the company had not adequately designed, operated, or maintained its refrigeration system,” and that NorPel failed to file its annual EPCRA Tier II chemical inventory report for the 2015 reporting year with state and local emergency response authorities.

Has risk management become marginalized?

This comes from a blog thread on bayt.com about compliance and risk management and if there’s a difference between them. The following response is from Rajesh Dhuri, a senior manager of a communications services company — which obviously isn’t EHS, although his answer is relevant. And thought provoking.

Dhuri’s opinion is that compliance and risk management are interrelated, but not the same. “Compliance management is managing the process to meet all regulatory and legislative requirements,” he says. “Managing risk is not just about assessing and quantifying all the things that could go wrong,” Dhuri adds, “but, perhaps more importantly, about understanding all the things that need to go right for the enterprise to be successful.

“Somehow we have descended into a culture focused on ferreting out all the issues that could contribute to failure to the point where risk management has become marginalized as overhead to the business process, not a contributor to its success.”

Unfortunately and all too often, companies view compliance and risk management through the same misguided lens — as a cost of doing business. 

Let Encamp help

After receiving arrest warrants, paying six-figure fines, and knowing EPA continually has your business on its radar, one would think companies would be more serious about managing the risk of environmental non-compliance. Mitigating risk and non-compliance is one of the reasons we started Encamp

Our mission, after all, is to create a world where good for business equals good for the environment. And we’re pursuing this mission with an end-to-end environmental compliance software platform — the Encamp platform — that enables companies to proactively manage risk related to regulatory reporting. 

With Encamp, our customers are able to aggregate and centralize environmental compliance data for better visibility and easier access. They also streamline workflows for EPCRA 312/Tier II compliance reporting and automate the submissions of report filings and payments to agencies in all 50 states.

Ongoing, we continue to build this premier platform so EHS professionals everywhere can ensure that environmental non-compliance is never an issue.  

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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