How would a digital strategy impact our company’s EHS process and compliance outcomes?” It’s a good, thought-provoking question, and a lot of EHS leaders are asking it right now when considering a digital game plan of their own. Which I’m glad they are. For one thing, it echoes my own belief that companies must pick up the digital pace for their EHS and compliance operations. But more than that, consistently positive compliance and business outcomes are how Encamp views the merits of EHS digital transformation — or in our case, the environmental aspect of EHS and what we call environmental digital transformation.

Encamp CEO and Co-founder Luke Jacobs

Thankfully the interest in environmental digital transformation is spreading. With digital transformation in general being recognized as a strategy since 2015, many businesses have discovered its value and extended digital technologies and practices to their environmental compliance efforts. Many others, however, are just starting on the digital journey for EHS. 

Luke Jacobs, Encamp CEO & Co-founder

Investing in Tomorrow, Today 

Answering the question for digitalization in EHS

It’s encouraging that more EHS leaders are asking how a digital strategy can impact compliance processes and outcomes. But the more pressing question is typically, “How do we start?,” which doesn’t always have a clear-cut answer. 

One article on EHS digital strategies puts an answer in motion. The article’s author is Rebecca Dabbs, a Climate Change and Sustainability Services partner at consulting firm Ernst & Young (EY), and she makes some excellent points about digital technologies in EHS.

“It is not the role of EHS professionals to know it all,” Dabbs says in her article’s final assessment. “Instead, those seeking to leverage digital technology to improve EHS should understand their needs and strategically engage support as required. This includes seeking out trusted advisors who understand the elements required for success. Accessing the right support to achieve successful initiatives, and to build an integrated digital architecture, is critical.”

Some EHS leaders might call it an environmental digital transformation epiphany. A call to action, perhaps. But let’s also be realistic about the transformational scope required to achieve better EHS process outcomes for environmental compliance. 

Because as Dabbs also points out in her article, “There are no simple solutions; one size does not fit all and one shiny, new gadget is not going to lead to long-term improvement.”

The simple math of compliance

Before founding Encamp, I worked in the environmental consulting world and was constantly buried in compliance reporting. And like most anyone who’s ever filed a Tier II report, I always thought the process was basically a mess of endless tasks and data… with no rhyme or reason to any of it. Ironically, though — and what truly reveals compliance reporting as being harder than it needs to be — is that the framework of compliance itself is really quite simple. I call this, accordingly, the “simple math of compliance.”

Compliance is a function of facilities across discrete jurisdictions
that define requirements applicable to operations that have
environmental impact.
 

Now think of how digital technologies fit into this equation. With no universal playbook on how to implement and optimize such technologies for compliance functions, knowing where to start on the transformation path isn’t easy. 

Obviously, it helps if an organization already has an existing digital foundation for other business functions. But even then, integrating digital technologies for EHS and compliance operations in particular can be a puzzle with no discernible starting point. 

Guided Environmental Compliance

So here’s the next question for EHS leaders: 

“What can our environmental operations do to successfully plan and adopt environmental digital transformation across our organization?”

Encamp has been fortunate enough to work with well-recognized businesses in industries of all kinds, and based on the steps many of them have taken in their own digital journey, we’ve formulated a method we call Guided Environmental Compliance.

The 5 steps to environmental digital transformation

eBook, Guided Environmental Compliance

You can read all about the method in our interactive eBook Guided Environmental Compliance, but the gist of its five core steps are in the following chart.

And don’t think of these steps in terms of starting from scratch. Think of them as unlocking more of the digital energy your organization likely already has in place.

 

Encamp's 5 steps to environmental digital compliance

A digital path to compliance simplification

The principle of Guided Environmental Compliance is that environmental digital transformation brings a simplified method to the complexities of compliance and reporting. As your organization integrates digital technology into its compliance program areas, it empowers EHS and operations teams to centralize information, make data more visible, construct a continuous and auditable data collection process, and ultimately gain central control over your entire compliance program. 

Several businesses that incorporate Encamp’s technology into their digital strategy, in fact, have extended our method’s framework to compliance stakeholders throughout their organization, including at the executive level.

In effect, the digital simplification path runs from gathering and validating data to submitting final reports, and taking our method’s transformational steps makes the most immediate impact toward realizing continual compliance and strategic sustainable value. 

It’s also how organizations effectively join Encamp’s mission to, as we say, create a world where good for business can equal good for the environment.

Where and how to start

From my own experience, gaining a better understanding of your organization’s environmental compliance requirements and goals is a top prerequisite for any environmental digital transformation. 

As part of their digital strategy assessment, EHS leaders should consider all the places technology would fit within their compliance management requirements to make goals more achievable, especially from an end-user’s perspective. For instance, how might solutions like digitalized processes for data collection make data management and reporting functions more efficient for an EHS team? (Answer: No more time-robbing manual work and human error. Processes become easier to automate, standardize, and repeat from one reporting year to the next. Subsequently, process consistency improves the quality and accuracy of your data, along with your trust in it.)  

Compliance goals naturally vary from one organization to another for its EHS and compliance operations. But to reiterate the five steps in Encamp’s Guided Environmental Compliance method, most organizations we work with cite the need to establish compliance foundations and a continuous data collection process. Automating the compliance reporting process, including receiving regulatory updates and notifications, is also a primary aim. 

Ultimately, when you’re weighing long-term strategic EHS and sustainability value for your organization, a final step — and key goal — is to unify compliance processes across all of your organization’s applicable program areas for continual compliance. 

High-tech solutions and high-touch support

After determining your requirements and goals for environmental digital transformation, a strategy requires formulating a course of action, both with your organization’s IT team and a valued digital technology partner. Of specific note here, the more this digital technology partner can guide you, the better the plan. 

Understandably, the adoption of digitalization in EHS is often met with fear of the unknown, which is often the case for any digital transformation effort. As you strategize and assemble your foundation for environmental digital transformation, having the right experts dedicated to overcoming current and future challenges is absolutely vital. Long-term, a knowledgeable digital technology partner can help prepare your organization to see ahead and successfully manage change.

Fundamentally, Guided Environmental Compliance blends this kind of high-touch expert support and high-tech solutions to transform compliance programs and human processes into a technology-driven system. The system is intrinsic to your organization’s own environmental operations, cementing the digital foundation you create to achieve accurate and ongoing environmental compliance. 

Also because organizations grow and add or acquire more facilities, this foundation scales appropriately when needed.  

This is why our guided method applies a data-driven paradigm to transform environmental compliance on an ongoing basis, a first principles approach that inspired the founding of Encamp in 2017, and that continues to influence us now.  

A relational database and operating system 

At its core, our method builds the relational database and operating system for your environmentally relevant operating data. Or in simple-math-of-compliance terms, you get a unified data system to manage the endless mess of tasks and data with a clear path and understanding. 

Compliance support from EHS industry veterans

Providing a great customer experience and helping customers achieve their goals is one of Encamp’s benchmarks and has been since we started. Central to the Guided Environmental Compliance method are our own environmental compliance experts, who can help a business’s environmental operations untangle a web of data, standardize processes, and preserve institutional knowledge. They also help align all of this into a compliance program that works across multiple facilities, states, and operational systems. 

I’m proud to say the compliance experts at Encamp are EHS industry veterans who were previously environmental supervisors, managers, scientists, engineers, state regulators, and consultants. As they like to say, “We’ve been there,” and they mean it.

Our Vision Beyond Environmental Digital Transformation  

I’ll reiterate Encamp’s mission here because I truly believe in it: We’re out to create a world where good for business can equal good for the environment. By making environmental compliance faster, simpler, and more accurate, we align incentives between regulated industry and regulators, and especially the public. Going forward, this will continue to make for a healthier and safer environment. 

For businesses, It will reduce compliance costs and risk. And for regulators, it will give them the data that’s most critical to effectively achieving public policy goals to protect the world in which we live.

Finally, in building the unified data system for environmental information, we’ll continue to help companies unlock strategic sustainability and drive continual compliance. As they do, they’ll continue to align business outcomes with social responsibility, and become better stewards of the environment.

Chat again soon,

Luke

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

Fair enough.

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

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

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

It’s the law

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

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

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

Avoid common environmental compliance oversights

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

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

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

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

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

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

Stay aware of local Tier II reporting requirements 

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

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

Gather Tier II data early

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

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

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

Data collection

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

Data validation

  • Initial data validation (December-January)

Data input 

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

Data submissions 

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

Go digital

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Transforming the way enterprises stay in compliance 

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

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

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

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

Top 10 Errors
Checklist

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

Guided Environmental Compliance

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

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

Common Tier II reporting errors in detail

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

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

#2: Chemicals are reported inconsistently across sites/facilities

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

#3: Chemical inventory is reported incorrectly or inaccurately

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

#4: Outdated or incorrect contact information

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

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

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

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

#6: Incorrectly-marked extremely hazardous substances

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

#7: Increased reporting fees for incorrectly-marked chemicals

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

#8: Out-of-date Safety Data Sheets 

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

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

#9: Wrong hazard codes in reports

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

#10: Mixture components are wrong

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

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

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

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

Transforming the way enterprises stay in compliance

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

For environmental compliance, continuous EHS training is a must. According to many EHS professionals Encamp works with, in fact, it’s a constant priority.

Such EHS training is vital for RCRA and EPCRA Tier II reporting. EHS professionals also rely on training to keep up with regulatory requirements. Even the latest industry developments and trends fall under the EHS training umbrella.

Our Top 5 resources for EHS training

On Encamp’s recommendations list for EHS training resources, these five are at the top. (Thanks to our director of Customer Success for the assist.)

Free webinars from EHS Today

EHS Today is a leading magazine for EHS management professionals in the United States. You can also say their website is a living encyclopedia for EHS industry news. And without question, the webinars from EHS Today are excellent tools for EHS training.

Both upcoming and archived, their webinars offer information and analysis from industry leaders. They also address a range of environmental compliance, sustainability, and risk management topics. One webinar of note is “State of the EHS Industry: Exploring the Results of the EHS Research Study.” The webinar is archived from April 2020, but it’s still a relevant for EHS training.

You can access the full library of EHS Today webinars here.

Resources from the EHS Daily Advisor

The EHS Daily Advisor from BLR is another great website for all things EHS. They start with their newsletter as a daily source of EHS industry news and insights. A library of reports, eBooks, white papers and other materials also make for valuable EHS training resources.

One resource for EHS leaders that caught our eye? The EHS Leadership in 2021 report.

See the full list of other free EHS Daily Advisor resources here.

McCoy and Associates white papers

When it comes to RCRA training, McCoy and Associates are in a league of their own. McCoy is regarded for their in-depth RCRA training seminars, which can get costly. But what many EHS professionals don’t know is that McCoy also offers a library of free white papers. These papers cover virtually every waste topic imaginable. Consider them premier EHS training resources for RCRA.

You can find McCoy’s white paper library here.

Free health & safety classes from Alison

Alison is one of the world’s largest free learning platforms for education and skills training. We’ve included them on our list for their ISO training courses for environmental management. They additionally offer a strong selection of Health & Safety training classes. Course ratings serve as guidelines for which courses are worth considering.

Class offerings are listed here.

Free webinars from NAEM

NAEM is the National Association for EHS&S Management. And environment, health, safety and sustainability (EHS&S) leaders can take advantage of the organization’s many professional development opportunities. Although various NAEM events require a membership, however, many of their resources and webinars for EHS training are free.

Register for upcoming webinars and access their library of archived webinars here.

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.

Getting Tier II reports ready to submit to state and local regulatory agencies for EPCRA compliance isn’t always easy. But at least we’ve made our list of 8 Tips easy to help you get prepared and comply with confidence. (And knowing Tier II is a year-round process, we even wrote an associated blog that offers still more helpful tips.)

  1. Download our helpful Tier II Guide. It’s free, and it spells out what you need to know for reporting accuracy.
  2. Verify Tier II reporting requirements by state to see if a state has changed any of its reporting guidelines, like thresholds, reporting portal, LEPC contact, etc.
  3. If your state requires files to be in Tier2 Submit format, download the newest version of Tier2 Submit (the newest version is for Reporting Year 2020).
  4. Start gathering your purchasing records and other inventory information to compile your data for Tier II reports.
  5. Make sure there are no new products to add to your inventory from last year. If there are, your state may require the product’s Safety Data Sheet (SDS) to be submitted as well.
  6. Also check to see if you’ve stopped storing any chemicals in a facility so you can remove them from your reporting.
  7. If your state requires a site plan, be sure to update it if needed with any changes in chemical storage location or other requirements.
  8. Compare your report to last year’s to see if they’re similar in amounts and chemicals. If there are significant differences, make any necessary changes.

‍Happy reporting!

We’re here to help for Tier II

If you need more help, Encamp’s Customer Success experts can answer your questions and offer additional reporting insights. Collectively, our team has filed thousands of Tier II reports for EPCRA compliance, so we know what you’re up against. As we say, let’s hit the reporting trail — together.

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.

Reporting your facility’s chemicals for Tier II can be a confusing task. Depending on your inventory, you may have difficulty with mixtures, lead acid batteries, or understanding your state requirements and using their portal. To help with your Tier II reporting efforts, we tackle each one of these here.

Three Issues to Clarify for Tier II

Mixtures

There’s a lot of confusion surrounding mixtures and how to report them in a Tier II scenario. Do you report each chemical separately within the mixture? Or should you report the mixture as its own chemical? EPA guidance recommends two methods:

  1. Report each constituent individually. With this option, the percent weight of each component will need to be converted to pounds by using the mass of the mixture. After each component has been converted, aggregate the amount with any other instances of the same component. 
  2. The other option is reporting the mixture as a whole. If the components are unknown (such as trade secrets), the chemical must be reported as a mixture.

The following examples are from the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ):

In the example here, the mixture X-Chem weighs 20,000 lbs. and contains 20% of the hazardous chemical “Chemical A”, which is listed as an EHS, and 80% water:

  1. Hazardous component example:
  2. a. Weight of Chemical A= 20,000 x 20% = 4000 lbs
  3. b. Weight of Water = 20,000 x 80% = 16,000 lbs.
  4. Report 4,000 lbs of Chemical A in the Tier II Report.
  5. Whole Mixture Example:
  6. a. Weight of X-Chem = 20,000 lbs.
  7. Report 20,000 lbs of the mixture in the Tier II Report.
  8. b. You would also list the 4,000 lbs of Chemical A under the Mixture Components because it is an EHS.
  9. Mixture X-chem
  10. Ingredient names Product Identifier (CAS No.) Percent (%)
  11. Chemical A (EHS) XXXX-XX-X 20
  12. Water XXXX-XX-X 80
  13. *You do not have to count a hazardous chemical present in a mixture if the concentration is less than or equal to 1%, or less than or equal to 0.1% for a carcinogenic, or potentially cancer-causing chemical.

According to EPA Guidance for Tier II, whichever way is chosen to report mixtures, the manner must be consistent between Section 311 Reporting and Section 312 Reporting.

Lead-acid batteries

The batteries in powered industrial trucks, such as forklifts and man lifts, contain lead and sulfuric acid. According to OSHA, they are a hazardous chemical because of the “potential to emit hydrogen gas which, upon ignition, may result in a fire or explosion.” The batteries do not fall under the article exemption either because they “have the potential to leak, spill, or break during normal conditions of use, including foreseeable emergencies,” according to the EPA’s memorandum on reporting these batteries. Because of this, it’s important for Tier II purposes to review how many batteries your facility stores and uses to determine if they exceed the threshold.

In the eyes of the EPA, lead-acid batteries are considered a mixture of sulfuric acid and lead. If you take a look at the safety data sheet (SDS) for a lead-acid battery, it generally contains between 40-75% lead (or lead compounds) and 20-45% sulfuric acid. Sulfuric acid is listed as an EHS chemical with a TPQ of 1,000 pounds. Therefore, the threshold would default to the 500 pounds threshold because it is an EHS. Lead-acid batteries can weigh anywhere from 39 pounds to upwards of 4,000 pounds. Because of the 500 pound threshold for sulfuric acid, facilities with even just one battery may be required to report. If your facility has several smaller batteries onsite, the amount of sulfuric acid in each battery needs to be aggregated with all sulfuric acid on-site to determine if that threshold has been met or exceeded.

For Tier II reporting, once you’ve determined whether the threshold for sulfuric acid has been reached, you may report the battery as a mixture or you can report the sulfuric acid separately as an EHS. However, the regulations state that “reporting a mixture, such as the batteries, under both Sections 311 and 312 must occur in the same manner, where practicable.” Most battery manufacturers publish SDSs for their batteries as a mixture, rather than the individual components. However, if you’re replenishing the electrolyte or manufacturing batteries, then it may make sense to report as individual components.

Some states have released guidance on reporting lead acid batteries, so double check with your facility’s state program prior to reporting these. (Illinois is one example. See page 14 of that state’s reporting instructions document.)

Aggregation of hazardous chemicals and EHSs

Many oil and gas companies and manufacturers have several types of oils and oil-based products on-site. There is a lot of confusion out there, on whether these need to be aggregated across the facility or not. The EPA has published guidance on this, which states that there are two ways to determine if aggregation of hazardous chemicals makes sense.

First, it’s recommended to review your products in question and review their SDSs. A facility can have two or more SDSs for chemicals onsite. For example, a facility can receive multiple SDSs for essentially the same material, but its provided by different suppliers. If the mixtures are represented by SDSs that are identical in composition and physical and health hazards, these mixtures can most likely be aggregated to determine if they exceed the threshold. If however, “two or more chemical combinations are represented by different SDSs and present different physical or health hazards, they would not be aggregated for §§311/312 purposes.”

The determination to aggregate similar hazardous chemicals is generally left up to the owner and operator (or their authorized representative) to make that call.

For EHSs, EPA has stated that these chemicals must be aggregated across mixtures and pure chemicals. For an example, if your facility has several lead acid batteries on-site, the sulfuric acid in each of those must be aggregated to determine if you have more than 500 pounds. If you also have pure sulfuric acid that’s used in a separate process, you will have to account for that when aggregating. If an EHS is present in a mixture over 1%, it must be accounted for in your calculations for the total EHS present on-site, regardless of what container the chemical is in. This may require you to examine reaction vessels, piping, and other process components.

State requirements and submission portals

Another common issue with Tier II reporting is determining what your state requires for reporting and how the state wants to receive that information. States like California, Louisiana, and New Jersey have thresholds that differ from the federal thresholds. Many states require additional information on the chemicals and the facilities that report. Contact your State Emergency Response Commission (SERC) or visit their website to find out their specific requirements.

On top of the varying thresholds and specific state requirements, there are several ways that the chemical inventory can be submitted to your state. Check out the below map to see what ways your state(s) require this information to be submitted. Many states require you to complete the report through Tier2 Submit. Tier2 Submit is software that EPA developed to help eliminate the paper reporting burden. The software must be downloaded each year onto your computer in order to use it. The software is normally updated in November of the year prior. Tier2 Submit doesn’t actually submit the information to your facility’s SERC, LEPC, or Fire Department though, despite its name. Most SERCs require you to download the information from Tier2 Submit and submit the file through email, their own portal, or even on a CD/SD and mail it to the SERC.

Other states have opted to use a full reporting and submittal platform like Tier II Manager. Several states like Indiana, Delaware, Oregon, and Nevada have all adopted Tier II Manager as their portal for Tier II reporting. Another portal that some states have adopted is E-plan. E-plan was developed by the University of Texas-Dallas. Other than Tier2 submit, Tier II Manager, and E-Plan, some states have created their own portal for submitting the report like California, Texas, Missouri, and Louisiana. Each portal has its pros and cons, but digitizing this information has proven to be very beneficial to the regulated community, emergency responders, and state and local officials.

Common Tier II reporting errors

In addition to some of the ambiguities surrounding Tier II mentioned above, there are some common reporting errors that SERCs have identified.

  1. One of the most common mistakes is incorrectly designating EHSs or failing to designate a chemical as an EHS. Double check that all of your reported chemicals are not on the EHS list. See the list here.
  2. Another common reporting mistake is listing a contact that is not familiar with Tier II reporting. The person that is listed should be knowledgeable about the report and the chemicals onsite. If the SERC, LEPC, or local fire department needs to ask the facility a question, they’ll contact the person listed on the report.
  3. As mentioned above, some states require additional information about the chemicals or the facility itself. Another common mistake is leaving those questions blank or answering them incorrectly. Many states require more information regarding the EHSs that are onsite, like mode of shipment, container type, and container size.
  4. Based on ECHO data, EPA settled 28 cases related to EPCRA violations in EPA’s fiscal year 2018. The penalties assessed from those cases amounted to $473,867. Several of those penalties stem from not completing the report at all. Some of them are for not reporting specific chemicals correctly or at all. Source: https://echo.epa.gov/facilities/enforcement-case-search/results
  5. Some SERCs and LEPCs require a site plan to be submitted with your chemical inventory. This plan helps navigate chemical emergencies by identifying where hazardous chemicals are stored, where the nearest emergency exits are, where the emergency equipment like fire extinguishers and PPE are located, and other pertinent information. Check with your SERC, LEPC, and fire department to see if they have specific requirements for site plans to ensure your facility is in compliance.
  6. Some facilities forget to factor in short term or seasonal chemicals they use for projects, specialty blends, or R&D. Section 312 states that you must account for any chemical present at the facility. EPA further describes present as being onsite at any given time during the year above the threshold. So although those chemicals may be onsite for a short amount of time, if they exceed the threshold while at your facility, you’re required to report it. 
  7. In addition to site plans and SDSs, some states require additional paperwork to be submitted with your report. For example, Virginia requires a certification letter. Kansas also requires a certification letter. Your report could be marked as late if those supplemental documents aren’t submitted with your report.

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.

EPCRA Tier II reporting for environmental compliance can be an adventure. And questions can come from all directions — starting with regulations themselves. “Do they even apply to my facility?”

Unfortunately, there’s no magic genie in a bottle for EPCRA Tier II reporting. But some helpful resources can help you navigate the process. We zeroed in on 10 such resources, including several important ones from the U.S Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). We’ve also listed a few of our own. Encamp is the largest third-party filer of EPCRA Tier II reports in the country, after all. So you can say our resources stem from experience.

Here are the 10 resources we arrived at that are most helpful for your Tier II reporting efforts.

EPA | EPCRA Tier II Forms and Instructions

Start with the EPCRA Tier II Emergency and Hazardous Chemical Inventory Form itself. Then see the instructions on how to complete the form. They’re the goldmine on this web page. The page also links to the Confidential Location Information Form for Tier II Emergency and Hazardous Chemical Inventory information (by chemical). A fact sheet for Safety Data Sheets (SDSs) is equally helpful.

EPA | State Tier II Reporting Requirements and Procedures

This page contains links to the Tier II admin details in all 50 states. Each state’s listing also includes contact info and links to reporting portals, plus any Special Instructions.‍

EPA | Resources and Guidance Documents for Compliance Assistance

The EPA’s compliance assistance program helps businesses in their efforts to meet environmental regulatory requirements. (The program is also for federal facilities, local governments and tribes.) Assistance tools and methods include online resource centers, fact sheets, and guides. Training for the following compliance categories is additionally available.

‍‍Encamp eBook | Tier II Guide‍

‍This free Practical Guide eBook covers the who, what, why, when and how of environmental compliance and reporting. And it does so in a way that’s straightforward and helpful. You know, practical. Sections are both well-defined and easy to understand. Better, this guide steps you through the EPCRA Tier II process beginning to end.

The Tier II Guide was written by Megan Walters, Encamp’s VP of Compliance and Customer Success. Megan is a Certified Hazardous Materials Manager (CHMM) and a Certified Environmental and Safety Compliance Officer® (CESCO). She’s also an EHSMS Internal Auditor. With Encamp’s other compliance experts also pitching in, you get the knowledge of a group that has collectively filed thousands of Tier II reports.‍‍

Encamp 1-page chart | EPCRA Applicability Flowchart‍

Think of this flowchart as an EPCRA Tier II reporting roadmap. By state, it even takes you to the county and city level. If EPCRA applies to your facility and its location, the flowchart helps you verify it. If it doesn’t, you can verify that, too. Use the flowchart as the prerequisite resource for Encamp’s Ultimate Checklist for Tier II Reporting.

Encamp blog | EPCRA Tier II Season is Year Round

In environmental compliance circles, March 1 is the due date every year for EPCRA Tier II reporting. But how many times do report preparations and submissions still come down to the last minute? Unfortunately we can’t change the date EPCRA Tier II forms are due. But we can suggest a start date to begin collecting information, reviewing it, and preparing your reports for submission. That date is today, or tomorrow, or ASAP. The sooner the better. This blog serves as a checklist to help companies take a proactive, year-round approach to compliance and reporting.

Industry website | Home – EHS Daily Advisor (blr.com)

The EHS Daily Advisor site is an absolute encyclopedia for EPCRA Tier II and environmental compliance issues. Note especially the News section and its pages for EHS Management; Enforcement and Inspection; Regulatory Developments; and even Chemicals. If there’s an update or news for reporting and related issues, it usually lands on one of these pages.

The site’s Multimedia and Free Resources sections are also good info repositories. Check out the infographics on EPCRA Tier II and other reporting requirements from EHS Daily Advisor Staff. The staff’s archived podcasts on the Podcast page are also worth a listen.

Industry website | Environment + Energy Leader

The E + E Leader site features “news and research impacting the environment and sectors for energy and sustainability.” In the site’s Resource Hub, there are two helpful pages in particular. On the site’s EHS&S page, see the Reporting section for news on environmental reporting, requirements, data management and EHS software. The Compliance page in the Resource Hub also includes the latest news for environment and energy policy, regulatory issues, standards, compliance, and enforcement.

Industry website | EHS Today

The sections for Standards and Environment are two repositories to bookmark on the EHS Today site. The Standards page hosts the latest news and updates for EPA, OSHA, and other regulatory concerns. Likewise, the Environment page has coverage for environmental regulations, sustainability, waste management and more. Both pages offer on-demand webinars, white papers, infographics and similar tools from contributing authors and businesses throughout the EHS industry.‍

Quiz (blog) | Test Your Tier II Knowledge (triumvirate.com)

We found this quiz in a January 2019 blog from Triumvirate Environmental. Even though it’s two years old, most of the details still apply to EPCRA Tier II reporting. The quiz is eight questions, all multiple choice, and takes less than a minute to complete. While we’ve included it for fun, it does tell you what you know — and don’t know — about some of the basics of Tier II reporting.

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.

Within the realm of EPCRA Tier II reporting requirements, the most grueling parts are getting the data right and filling out the proper forms for regulatory agencies. So logically, submitting your EPCRA Tier II forms should be the easy part, right? Um, not necessarily. In a lot of ways, submissions can be just as exhausting.

Let’s do a little math first. In the U.S., every state has its own system for EPCRA Tier II submissions. That’s 50 different portals and websites and submission procedures — and trust me, there is nothing standardized about any of them. Add the EPA’s Tier2 Submit software, and the submission process gets crazier.

Now tally the states where you have to send mailings to fire departments and Local Emergency Planning Committees (LEPCs). For EPCRA Tier II reporting requirements, those can be submissions headaches, too.

Then finally, for EPCRA Tier II filing fees, the payment options in each state can range from online methods and credit cards to hard copy checks. Nothing standard again. Scream!

Ease your EPCRA Tier II submissions pain

Here’s where Encamp and our end-to-end platform for environmental compliance helps. In making the entire EPCRA Tier II reporting process easier, we submit the completed forms and pay fees to all appropriate agencies on your behalf.

Fair to say, we save you a lot of time and stress on the submission admin side. More importantly, Encamp makes sure your Tier II forms are up to date, accurate, validated, and submitted as scheduled.

Doing your submissions legwork

There are still other things Encamp does for EPCRA Tier II submissions — details that sometimes go unnoticed — that EHS professionals can also appreciate. Following is an example of what I mean (it’s from a recent demo and the discussion I had with the company’s EHS team members).

EHS professional: “It seems like more and more states are moving away from Tier2 Submit. And even in the states that continue to accept it, you still have to go through their (state) portal and submit that way. So it’s pretty much the same data going into all these portals. It just has to be put into the format they want it.”

Julie (me): “That’s correct. What we’re able to do is scrape the data out of the Tier2 Submit system and any state portals and organize it into the Encamp format. It’s all an automated export process. Then we convert your EPCRA Tier II data into the format that individual states require. After that, it’s a similar automated process for how we push the submission back out.”

EHS professional: “So with the submittals, do you conduct a final review or double check of the data, or are you really just using the (Encamp) system to catch errors when they pop up? Or, is there any other kind of review from your end for accuracy… or who is that really up to?”

Julie: “Well, for data accuracy and validation, the Encamp platform has various modules you can purchase, like our Tier II module. Or if you’re looking for more of a hands-on approach, we can provide that as well. But typically, we use our software to get ahead of any errors that are occurring in your data. And remember, the Encamp solution lets you assign reviewers from your own team to double check data, state forms, etc. for your final EPCRA Tier II reports. We’ve actually built in several checkpoints to help you make sure your data is accurate prior to submission. It’s your call as to what level of service you want Encamp to provide.”

EHS professional: “So, when Encamp pays a (submission) fee, I know some states say you have to pay by credit card. Other states give you options to send in a check or pay online. But sometimes the user fees just to pay online are 75 dollars. Would Encamp avoid that (user) fee and send a check?”

Julie: “If you do have the option, we go with the lowest cost option.”

EHS professional: “I do have a question about EPCRA Tier II forms getting submitted to the appropriate agencies. Does that include local planning committees and the fire department? Those are the ones that are usually harder to figure out who forms go to.”

Julie: “We take care of every single submission. And like I said, we pull in your information from last year, so we have a record of where you sent things last year. But we do double check everything to make sure. We maintain a database of all LEPC and fire department information and make sure it’s current. We also routinely mass blast every LEPC around the country to verify their information and make any changes in our own internal records to make sure it’s cross referencing our database. That way, you know everything’s going to the right place for EPCRA Tier II compliance.”

EHS professional: “Okay, cool.”

I have to say, I agree. What Encamp does to ease the submission process for EPCRA Tier II reports is pretty cool.

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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