Care, Protect, Grow: The U.S. Compliance Blog

EPA Finalizes RMP Reconsideration Rule

On November 20, 2019, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) signed the Risk Management Program (RMP) Reconsideration Rule as a result of three petitions submitted to reconsider the RMP regulations mandated in 2017. According to the EPA, this new rule rescinds and modifies certain revisions in order to “better address potential security risks, reduce unnecessary and ineffective regulatory burdens on facilities and emergency responders, harmonize rather than conflict with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) Process Safety Management standard, address the concerns of stakeholders,” and save unnecessary costs for facilities and regulatory departments.

The following provisions have been modified under the EPA’s RMP Reconsideration Rule and may impact regulated facilities:

  • Retains the requirement that facilities must annually coordinate with local response organizations in order to reduce the impacts of a potential incident.

Compliance Date: March 14, 2018

  • Modifies emergency coordination provisions to address security concerns with the 2017 amendment. Emergency response planners may now only obtain information that is necessary to complete and implement local emergency response plans.

Compliance Date: N/A

  • Retains annual emergency notification drill provisions.

Compliance Date: First notification must be performed five years after date of publication

  • Retains the requirement to perform tabletop exercises with facility personnel and local responding agencies to discuss emergency response practices in the event of an incident.

Compliance Date: First tabletop exercise is due seven years after date of publication

  • Modifies the frequency of field exercises as well as the scope of the documentation required for the field exercise and evaluation report to provide more flexibility to local emergency responders.

Compliance Date: Date is determined by owner/operator of facility and local emergency response agencies

  • Retains the requirement to hold a public meeting within 90 days after an accident, but only applies the requirement to accidents with offsite impacts.

Compliance Date: Following any RMP reportable accident with offsite impacts that occurs after March 15, 2021

The following provisions have been rescinded under the EPA’s RMP Reconsideration Rule unless specifically required by the EPA:

  • Third party audits are no longer required
  • The need to conduct a Safer Technologies and Alternatives Analysis (STAA) has been rescinded to avoid unnecessary costs and potential overlap of the safer technologies implemented within the Process Hazard Analysis (PHA)
  • Conducting an Incident Investigation Root Cause Analysis after a reportable incident or near miss is no longer required in order to maintain consistency with OSHA PSM standards
  • The availability of facility RMP information will no longer be made available to the public due to security/terrorism threats. However, State and Federal regulators and first responders will have no information restrictions under this new rule. The public can access RMP information through read-only access at Local Emergency Planning Committees (LEPCs), Federal Reading Rooms or through a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request to the EPA.

Ultimately, this new rule reduces regulatory requirements and security risks for facilities applicable to RMP Regulations

EPA’s Biennial Report – What You Need to Know

The EPA’s March 1 Biennial Reporting deadline is coming up faster than one might realize, which means Large Quantity Generators (LQGs) of hazardous waste should start preparing for what they will need to complete the report. The Biennial Report, more formally known as the National Biennial RCRA Hazardous Waste Report, is a requirement under Section 3002(a)(6) of the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) and must be submitted by March 1 of every even-numbered year.

Who must report?

Reporting is required for hazardous waste generators that are registered under the LQG generator status – meaning they are allowed to generate greater than 2,200 lbs (1,000 kg) of general hazardous waste, or 2.2 lbs (1 kg) of acutely hazardous waste per month. One caveat to this rule targets Small Quantity Generators (SQGs) and Very Small Quantity Generators (VSQGs) that generated hazardous waste at LQG levels during at least one month throughout the reporting period. If facility personnel are unsure of the generator status of the facility in which they operate, the EPA’s Enforcement and Compliance History Online (ECHO) service is helpful in determining such information.

What information is reported?

There are four primary pieces of information that the EPA obtains from the Biennial Report, which seeks information for the calendar year before the year in which the report is due (i.e. the report that is due March 1, 2020, will include information from 2019). The first of these being the type of hazardous waste that was generated; these are reported using Waste Codes. Each hazardous waste stream has a code or series of codes that define exactly the type of waste it is. Hazardous waste streams include those that fall into one of the four characteristic hazardous waste categories (“D” Waste Codes): ignitable, corrosive, reactive, and toxic.  Additionally, any F, K, P, or U listed waste stream is considered hazardous and must be included in the Biennial Report. If you are unsure about a specific waste stream and whether or not it is considered hazardous, the EPA’s Hazardous Waste Characterization web page may be helpful.

Secondly, the EPA wants to know the amount of waste generated at each site. The EPA publishes generation totals by weight for many different criteria, including the type of wastes and their amounts generated nationally and at each individual facility. It is imperative that the generation amounts reported on the individual site level are accurate and reported in pounds. Often, shipping totals from waste manifests are noted in units other than pounds, therefore, conversions must be used when completing the Biennial Report in these cases.

The EPA uses a set of four-digit “form codes” used to identify the physical form of the waste media. There are 49 form codes, covering the majority of hazardous waste generated in the United States. Popular form codes for general industrial hazardous wastes are:

  • W103, Inorganic Liquids – Spent concentrated acids
  • W203, Organic Liquids – Concentrated non-halogenated solvent
  • W206, Organic Liquids – Waste oil
  • W209, Organic Liquids – Paint, ink, lacquer, or varnish
  • W211, Organic Liquids – Paint thinner or petroleum distillates
  • W406, Organic Solids – Dried paint (paint chips, filters, air filters, other)
  • W505, Inorganic Sludges – Metal bearing sludges not containing cyanides

The full list of form codes may be found on the EPA’s list of Nationally Defined Values for Waste Form Code.

Lastly, the Biennial Report provides the source of the wastes generated.  “Source codes” are used to determine the process or origin of the waste streams. Source codes contain three digits and follow the form “G” followed by a two-digit number. Similar to the form codes, there are 49 source codes that pertain to the major potential origins of hazardous wastes generated. A few common examples include:

  • G01, Wastes from Ongoing Production and Service Processes – Dip, flush or spray rinsing
  • G03, Wastes from Ongoing Production and Service Processes – Plating and phosphating
  • G06, Wastes from Ongoing Production and Service Processes – Painting and coating
  • G11, Wastes from Other Intermittent Events or Processes – Discarding off-specification or out-of-date chemicals or products
  • G14, Wastes from Other Intermittent Events or Processes – Removal of tank sludge, sediments or slag
  • G32, Wastes from Spills and Accidental Releases – Cleanup of spill residues

The full list of source codes is located on the EPA’s list of Nationally Defined Values for Waste Description Source Code.

The information contained in these four sections of the report is essential in ensuring that the national waste data is published correctly. Therefore, it is important to ensure each facility’s report is accurate and compliant with the requirements outlined in the regulation.

How does a facility report?

All states are not created equal – at least not when it comes to how they accept the Biennial Report submittals. For the vast majority of states, the Biennial Report is submitted via the EPA’s RCRAInfo reporting website. To complete the report using RCRAInfo, one must create an account and register with certifying authority for their specific site. Once registered, RCRAInfo allows for the completion of the report, as well as some other helpful features like e-manifesting. It is essential to not wait until the last minute to sign up for RCRAInfo to avoid potential issues with the system which could lead to a late report submittal.

Unfortunately, several states do not accept Biennial Report Submittals through the RCRAInfo system. A few notable states that do not use RCRAInfo include but are not limited to Illinois, Texas, and Wisconsin, which all use their own state-specific reporting software, and North Dakota, which requires paper copy submittals of the Federal 8700-12, 8700-13 A/B form. More and more states tend to be moving toward allowing RCRAInfo submittals so it is important to check with your state requirements before the March 1 deadline.

Remember, if a facility generates hazardous waste at Large Quantity Generator (LQG) levels, it is a Federal requirement to submit a Biennial Report by March 1 of 2020. Make sure that you have all that you need to get it completed accurately and on time to ensure maximum compliance.

Assessing Wastewaters from Metal Finishing Operations for EPA Categorical Standards

Under the Clean Water Act, the EPA put the Metal Finishing Categorical Pretreatment Standards into effect on July 15, 1983, as 40 CFR Part 433. The regulations cover wastewater discharges from a wide variety of industries performing various metal finishing operations. More specifically, the metal finishing operations applicable to the standard mostly involve the process of changing the surface of a metal object to improve its appearance and/or durability. Applicability of the Metal Finishing Category is defined by the type of process operation versus the industry sector.

The primary goal of the standard is to prevent the uncontrolled discharges of wastewater pollutants from industrial facilities with metal finishing operations. To accomplish this, limitations on the pollutants are implemented within the standards. These limits also prevent the discharge of pollutants that could pass through, interfere with, or otherwise be incompatible with the local wastewater treatment plant that receives the wastewaters.


The Metal Finishing Standard regulates wastewaters generated from six primary metal finishing operations. The primary six operations are outlined below.

If a facility conducts any one of the six operations listed above, a Categorical Wastewater Permit is required. This applies even if the wastewaters generated from the process are sent out for disposal as a hazardous or non-hazardous waste (versus discharging to the sanitary sewer). Often termed zero discharge, a facility with no discharge to wastewater can still need a permit if they meet the categorical requirement.


If a facility conducts one of the primary metal finishing operations and is applicable for permitting, then the standard also covers additional wastewaters resulting from an additional 40 metal finishing operations (that may or may not be present at the site). To comply with the metal finishing standard, it is the facility’s responsibility to identify the additional metal finishing wastewaters during the permitting process. The additional 40 operations are outlined below.



Once a facility has determined that a permit is required, the following actions need to be completed to achieve compliance with the EPA standard:

  • Initial sampling and testing
  • Baseline Monitoring Report (BMR)
  • Permit application
  • Developing and certifying a TOMP plan
  • Routine monitoring and reporting
  • Permit renewals

PITFALL – Applicability of EPA Categorical Standard Not Assessed

From my experience, many manufacturing facilities have not fully disclosed with the local permitting authorities whether a discharge permit is required for the discharge of their wastewaters. Equally, local wastewater authorities are not always reviewing categorical requirements. As a result, the applicability of the metal finishing standard has also never been assessed. Issues tend to arise when a new inspector or other permitting agencies (i.e. State or EPA) get involved.


If you find that your facility does conduct one of the primary six metal finishing operations, work with your local permitting authority to obtain the required discharge permit. This will ensure compliance with the Metal Finishing Standard while also eliminating the possibility of EPA enforcement.



Lockout/Tagout – Effective Implementation

How do I start a Lockout/Tagout Program?

Lockout/tagout programs prevent injuries and ultimately, save lives. Lockout/tagout is an energy control procedure that requires an employee to isolate energy before doing any cleaning, adjusting, or repairing of a piece of equipment. In layman’s terms, it means that if an employee is going to access a piece of equipment by removing a guard or sticking a body part into a point of operation to clean, adjust, or repair it, then the power to that machine needs to be turned off and locked in the off position. Although it sounds easy, there are approximately 120 deaths and 60,000 injuries that are energy control-related every year. Lockout/tagout citations are routinely in the top five of the most cited standards annually. This article will guide you toward an effective lockout/tagout implementation.

Where to start

It is required that each piece of equipment has a machine-specific lockout/tagout procedure. There are two exceptions to this rule: if a machine is only powered with a plug and you have control of that plug, then a procedure does not need to be developed. Further, if you have multiple machines that have similar energy control methods, then they can share a procedure. Otherwise, all energized equipment will need a procedure on how to properly isolate the energy. Here is the information that is required on a lockout/tagout procedure:

  • Name of the procedure
  • Energy sources
  • Energy magnitude
  • How to turn the machine off
  • Where to isolate energy
  • Number of locks and tags needed
  • How to release stored energy
  • How to verify that the machine is de-energized

Procedures need to be accessible to all authorized employees. A good practice is to post the procedure on the equipment or have the procedures stored in a central location like a lockout/tagout station.

Identifying energy sources

When identifying energy sources, don’t make the mistake of only looking for electric energy. Pneumatic, hydraulic, mechanical, thermal and other potential energy can all cause equipment to cycle. Identifying stored energy and dissipating it properly is very important. Releasing stored energy can prevent electrical shocks, punctures, pinches, nips, amputations, explosions, pressure releases, gravitational force and burns from occurring.

Periodic Inspections

To assure that the machine-specific procedures created are accurate and updated, a periodic inspection must be completed on each procedure once per year. This is a commonly missed step in implementing and maintaining a lockout/tagout program. The steps to complete a periodic inspection are as follows:

  1. An authorized employee is brought to the work station to perform a physical lockout
  2. The observer takes the existing procedure to the work area
  3. The authorized employee performs the lockout procedure
  4. The observer compares the actions to the procedure to ensure they are the same
  5. A periodic inspection form is filled out which includes the name of the equipment inspected, the date, the name of the authorized employee, if the employee has access to lockout/tagout equipment, if the employee has been trained, notes of any deficiencies in the procedure and if the employee performed the lockout according to the procedure

One of the most important parts of completing the periodic inspections is to update the lockout/tagout procedures and make all authorized employees aware of the updates. Remember, procedures need to be accessible to all authorized employees. This is an important part of your lockout training.

Locks, tags, and devices

Locks need to be specific to lockout operations, meaning they need to look different from other locks that may be used around the building. These locks also need to only have one key and not be keyed alike. This is so the user keeps the key and is the only person that can remove the lock. Never lockout for someone else!

Tags are required to identify who placed the lock and why they placed it. In the case of an employee forgetting to remove a lock, you need to know who it belonged to so you can contact them. NEVER remove a lock for an employee without contacting them first. You must speak to them or the lock cannot be removed. If someone gets hurt because you removed a lockout device, you can be held criminally liable.

A device can be likened to an accessory that helps isolate energy. Imagine a ball valve or a fuse in a breaker box; locks cannot be directly attached to lock them in the off position. A device serves as an implement that can be attached to a valve, fuse or other energized point to hold it in the off position, used alongside a lock to secure the device in place.


There are two groups of employees that require training. Authorized employee training is required for personnel that will be placing locks and tags for their protection. This training includes going over the seven steps to a proper lockout, lockout/tagout procedures and where to locate them, periodic inspections, energy sources, isolation points, group lockouts, shift change procedures, maintenance and exceptional situations (such as the procedure to remove a lock for an absent authorized employee like a set-up, maintenance or sanitation employee).

All other employees are required to receive Awareness (or Affected) level training. Everyone in the workplace needs to know what lockout is, how energy control is practiced and how it keeps authorized employees safe from injury and death.

U.S. Compliance provides safety, health and environmental services to hundreds of facilities in the manufacturing and general industry sector across the country and can help you develop an effective Lockout/Tagout Program.

OSHA Inspections – Keys to Success

According to the latest statistics provided by OSHA, there were approximately 73,000 federal and state plan inspections that occurred throughout the 2018 fiscal year. Were you one of those companies? If so, how did your company fare during the inspection? Was your company prepared? OSHA inspections, like any regulatory inspection, can be positive experiences or they can go poorly. The state of your current safety program obviously plays a significant role in how successful you are at getting through an OSHA inspection without citations or penalties, but there are other points of consideration as well that can contribute to the outcome of the inspection. This article will focus on these elements.

The very first thing to be aware of is how – how does OSHA typically end up at a company’s front door?


OSHA focuses its inspection resources on the most hazardous workplaces in the following order of priority:

1stImminent Danger – Any condition where there is reasonable certainty that a danger exists that can be expected to cause death or immediate serious physical harm.


2ndCatastrophes and Fatal Accidents – Catastrophes – major incidents such as the hospitalization of three or more employees from a single event. Fatalities, amputations and a loss of an eye could also result in an inspection. Since 2015, OSHA has had incident reporting criteria that could lead to an inspection.


3rdComplaints/Referrals Investigations – Employee complaints of unsafe and unhealthful working conditions. It can be either a Formal Complaint or a Non-Formal Compliant.


4thProgram Inspections/National Emphasis Programs – Aimed at specific high-hazard industries, workplaces, occupations, or health substances. OSHA selects industries for inspections based on factors such as injury rates, previous citation history, employee exposure to toxic substances, or random selection.


5thFollow-Up Inspections – Determines whether previously cited violations have been corrected. If an employer has failed to abate a violation, the compliance officer informs the employer that he/she is subject to “Notification of Failure to Abate” alleged violations and may face additional proposed daily penalties while such failure or violations continue.


OSHA’s updated recordkeeping rule expands the list of severe injuries that employers must report to OSHA. As of January 1, 2015, all employers must report the following:

  1. All work-related fatalities within 8 hours.
  2. All work-related inpatient hospitalizations, all amputations and all losses of an eye within 24 hours.

Note: Some state plans are different, see the state-specific guidelines.

The second thing to know and understand is what to expect during an OSHA inspection. The inspection process typically includes an opening conference, a program and training records review as they relate to the inspection, a walkthrough, employee interviews, and a closing conference. OSHA does not have to give advanced warning of an inspection. There are some rare circumstances, however, where they could. For example, it is possible they could provide advance notice to provide an employer with the opportunity to correct imminent danger hazards quickly.


You should always check an OSHA inspector’s credentials, which typically are presented upon arrival of the compliance officer. If unsure, get the inspector’s information (their business card is usually provided) and call the local OSHA office or the Department of Labor Office to confirm. There have been reported cases of scammers posing as OSHA inspectors, going to worksites and requesting payment of a fine. Understand that OSHA would never request immediate payment of a fine during an initial inspection.

During the opening conference, OSHA typically reviews the following with the employer:

  • Purpose and scope of the inspection
  • A copy of the complaint (if applicable)
  • Process of the inspection (interviews, records, walk-through inspection, possible referrals and closing conference)
  • Handouts – familiarity with OSHA
  • Trade secrets guidelines
  • Awareness of:
    • Recent inspections
    • Multi-employer worksites


OSHA 300 logs tend to be the first thing reviewed by OSHA (and often go back five years) so be sure they are accessible and accurate. OSHA may choose to focus on a specific topic based on something observed on the log.

OSHA will likely request a review of certain required policies and training records. Be prepared in advance and have them organized in a known location. Do NOT give the inspector your entire safety policy and program records because they are likely only interested in the policies/programs that are related to the reason for their visit. Only show the programs and training records specifically requested by OSHA. Remember, this is not the time to ask all the questions about OSHA-related programs you have accumulated over the years.


During the walkthrough inspection portion of the OSHA visit, ensure that all members of the inspection party have appropriate personal protective equipment and that the inspector is always accompanied by a facility representative. The facility representative should be the same person throughout the inspection (two or more representatives could provide conflicting information). If at any time the facility representative has difficulty responding to a question, he/she should simply reply, “Let me get back to you on that. I don’t have all of the pertinent information at this time. I need to check with…” It is okay not to have all the answers or to politely and tactfully disagree. If you feel the inspector does not have an accurate perception or all of the facts, you can provide that information if you feel it works in your favor.

When walking through your plant, take them directly to the areas of interest rather than walking throughout the plant. Remember that anything you show them or anything they see during the walkthrough can be investigated further for potential violations. That is also a reason why you never want to leave the inspector alone. If OSHA takes notes, you should take notes. If OSHA takes a photo, you should take the same photo. And last but certainly not least, do not volunteer information during the walkthrough. Uncomfortable silences are better than talking too much (providing information that wasn’t asked for opens you up to further scrutiny).


The inspector should describe the apparent violations that they will be recommending to their local office Area Director. They may set appropriate abatement periods (cannot extend past 30 days) and will typically advise you and the employee representative (if applicable) of their right to participate in any subsequent conference. If any alleged violations were corrected on the spot, the inspector must state that they were abated. The inspector should explain the penalty procedure, citation package and posting requirements, along with explaining the right to an informal conference and/or to contest any violations.


There are several additional points to consider before and during an OSHA inspection that can be contributing factors to your overall success in completing the process with zero or minimal citations. First, and well before OSHA arrives at your door, your company must make a few important decisions. Determine ahead of time who will be contacted when OSHA shows up at your door, who’s in charge of gathering documents, who will accompany the compliance officer(s) during the walkthrough, etc. Your preparation should also include determining a union representative if the facility has union workers – especially if it’s part of a contract. Be sure to designate alternates for employees assigned to accompany an inspector.

Most safety professionals agree that employer attitude, organization, and good housekeeping all can make a positive impression during an OSHA inspection. If you are disagreeable, that can pass on to the compliance officer – your mood will affect their mood. An inspector can note an employer’s lack of cooperativeness on their report. Having easily located written safety records is imperative. If it takes you a half-hour to locate your lockout/tagout policy or an SDS, you are going to look disorganized and that could give the compliance officer the impression that your safety program is lacking or that you don’t have the required documentation.  Housekeeping is also very important. A dirty or cluttered workplace can immediately set the compliance officer off on the wrong foot. They may think to themselves, “If they can’t keep the floor and aisles clean, I wonder what else they haven’t been doing.”

The long unwritten rule with OSHA is: if it’s not in writing, it never happened. Besides standard safety training, document when your company does fire drills, safety committee meetings, brief toolbox talks, detailed incident investigations, safety improvements, etc. All of those things are just as important as safety training and you should get credit for them. They speak to your overall good faith, which is very important to convey during an OSHA inspection.

OSHA will typically wait a reasonable amount of time – up to an hour – before making note of any delays on the inspection report. This is the perfect time for employers to correct small hazards, such as making sure employees are wearing their applicable PPE, clearing areas in front of walkways, exit doors and fire extinguishers and assuring that forklift operators are wearing their seatbelts.

As a general rule, we don’t recommend refusing entry to OSHA. We have seen companies over the years with corporate policies that request a warrant for any government inspection. Quite frankly, that is a bad policy. Requesting to see a warrant before allowing an OSHA inspector to enter the workplace is likely to bring added scrutiny and suspicion. In most cases, they will get a warrant and will likely bring their most seasoned compliance officers who are very good at looking for possible OSHA violations.

Over the years, we have been through a lot of different OSHA inspections. We have seen common violations throughout these inspections, like safety records that are often overlooked by companies or those that they simply don’t have.  Here are a few of them:

  • OSHA 300 Recordkeeping (properly filled out and current)
  • Including temp workers on OSHA 300 logs
  • Lockout procedure periodic inspections
  • Forklift reevaluations
  • Written PPE hazard assessments with certification
  • Bloodborne pathogens training
  • Hazardous chemical inventory list
  • Hazard communication training for all employees
  • Medical evaluations for all respirator users
  • Annual respirator training and fit-testing

Finally, be proactive and honest. Developing an ongoing safety program with all of the required components is the best preparation. It eliminates anxiety over the unknown and allows you to feel comfortable about your employees and the company. You know that if you receive an OSHA inspection, you’ll be able to put your best foot forward. If you haven’t been keeping your safety program up to date, it will be too late by the time OSHA shows up. Be honest in your answers because OSHA will know if you’re faking it. They will be happy to work with you if they feel you are genuine, doing your best and have the best interest of your employees in mind.

Defining “Oil” Under the SPCC Rule

As a refresher, a Spill Prevention Control and Countermeasures (SPCC) plan is required for facilities storing oil with an aggregate storage capacity greater than 1,320 gallons in containers greater than 55 gallons. The plan is a requirement under the Oil Pollution Act (OPA), an amendment made to the Clean Water Act (CWA) in 1990.

Under the SPCC rule (40 CFR 112.2), “Oil means oil of any kind or in any form, including, but not limited to: fats, oils, or greases of animal, fish, or marine mammal origin; vegetable oils, including oils from seeds, nuts, fruits, or kernels; and, other oils and greases, including petroleum, fuel oil, sludge, synthetic oils, mineral oils, oil refuse, or oil mixed with wastes other than dredged spoil.”

The definition can be difficult to navigate and can create confusion within manufacturing. Unfortunately, a comprehensive chemical list does not exist. With responsibility for the navigable waters of the United States, the U.S. Coast Guard publishes an extensive list of “oils,” but the list is not exhaustive nor exclusive of oils. The USCG list can be found at:

The primary oils leading to the development of SPCC plans include the following:

Petroleum Oils

Oils including crude and refined petroleum products, asphalt, gasoline, fuel oils, mineral oils, naphtha, sludge, oil refuse and oil mixed with wastes other than dredged spoil.

Non-Petroleum or Synthetic Oils

Non-petroleum oils including coal tar, creosote, silicon fluids, pine oil, turpentine and tall oils are examples of non-petroleum oils that are specifically addressed by SPCC requirements.

Synthetic oils are considered to share common physical properties with petroleum oils and therefore, will produce similar environmental effects.

Animal Fats and Vegetable Oils

Animal fats include fats, oils and grease of animal, fish or marine mammal origin, like lard and tallow. Vegetable oils include oils from seeds, nuts, fruits and kernels. Corn, rapeseed, coconut, palm, soybean, sunflower seed, cottonseed and peanut oil are also included.


Since asphalt exhibits liquid-like behavior at certain temperature ranges, it is regulated under SPCC. This includes cutbacks and emulsions while hot asphalt mix (HMA) and HMA containers are exempt from regulation since they are unlikely to flow based on the aggregate mixture.

Natural Gas and Condensate

Natural gas, which volatilizes on contact with water or air, is not regulated in the SPCC rule. However, natural gas liquid condensate is regulated if stored in containers greater than 55 gallons.

Milk and Milk Products (Exempted)

In 2011 the EPA amended the SPCC rule to exempt milk and milk products, determining that spill prevention was adequately addressed under existing standards. This includes butter, cheese and dry milk, among others. Other oils present at the facility are still applicable to the standard.

Additional considerations for materials that may not fit the above list include the use of the “Sheen Rule” and the special considerations required for mixtures to determine whether or not a material is an oil.

The “Sheen Rule”

When defining substances as an oil – especially mixtures – it is important to consider the EPA’s “sheen rule.” Although the specific rule “requires reporting discharges which cause a sheen or discoloration on the surface of a body of water” (under 40 CFR 110.3), it can be inferred from this requirement that all products which can cause a “sheen” on water should be considered oil. Although a test is not practical in most cases, giving consideration may assist in deciding (e.g. consider the impact of soy-based inks).

Oily Mixtures

Mixtures should be evaluated by individual ingredients; if a mixture contains an oil then the entire product should be considered oil. As a general guideline, strong consideration should be given to those substances that are at least 1% oil within the mixture.


Oils can be difficult to classify. When completing an SPCC threshold determination, start with a chemical inventory list and complete the evaluations for each material. In most cases, it will be necessary to review the SDS. Use the guidance above, consider the “sheen rule” and carefully evaluate mixtures. Remember, only substances kept in containers 55 gallons or greater need to be evaluated.

OSHA’s Electronic Injury Reporting Requirements

Every year, millions of employers are required to keep track of their workers’ injuries and illnesses by recording them in what is often called an “OSHA Log.” The OSHA Logs consist of three separate documents: the Form 300 Log of Work-Related Injuries and Illnesses, the Form 300-A Summary of Work-Related Injuries and Illnesses, and the Form 301 Injury and Illness Incident Report. It is required for all applicable employers (employers with 10 or more employees in certain industries) to retain the last five years of each of these documents. OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) will request to see them as needed during inspections and enforcement actions.

Under a Final Rule (Federal Registry Doc # 2016-10443) that became effective on January 1, 2017, OSHA revised its requirements for recording and submitting records of workplace injuries and illnesses to require that some of this recorded information be submitted to OSHA electronically for posting to the OSHA website via the Injury Tracking Application (ITA).  After additional public commentary and feedback from employers, a second Final Rule (Federal Registry Doc # 2019-00101) was published by OSHA amending its original recordkeeping regulation. The current Final Rule was published on January 25, 2019, and made effective on February 25, 2019.

According to OSHA, “the rule will also provide [them] with data to assist the agency in improving allocation of compliance assistance – help OSHA provide to employers who want to improve their safety standards – and enforcement resources, expanding the Agency’s ability to identify, target and remove safety and health hazards, thereby preventing workplace injuries, illnesses and deaths. It will also enable OSHA to conduct more rigorous evaluations of the impact of government injury prevention activities.”


Below are several points that highlight the current OSHA Electronic Submission Requirements:

Applicability: Who is required to submit this information to OSHA?

  • Establishments with 250 or more employees at any time during the year that are currently required to keep OSHA injury and illness records.
  • Establishments with 20-249 employees at any time during the year that are classified (SIC or NAICS) in certain industries with historically high rates of occupational injuries and illnesses. Please see list here.

Note: As of August 1, 2019, Maryland is the only OSHA-approved State Plan that has not yet adopted the requirement to submit injury and illness reports electronically. Contact information for each of the State Plans can be found here.

Establishments that meet any of the following criteria DO NOT have to submit their information to OSHA’s website. Remember, these criteria apply at the establishment level, not to the firm as a whole:

  • The establishment’s peak employment during the previous calendar year was 19 or fewer, regardless of the establishment’s industry.
  • The establishment’s industry is on the Non-Mandatory Appendix A to Subpart B – Partially Exempt Industries list regardless of the size of the establishment
  • The establishment had a peak employment between 20 and 249 employees during the previous calendar year AND the establishment’s industry is not on this list.

Key Dates/Deadlines:

Covered establishments must electronically submit information from their OSHA Form 300A. Beginning in 2019 and every year thereafter, the information must be submitted by March 2. This includes most of the manufacturing sector (those with NAICS codes 31-33) with historically high rates of occupational injuries and illnesses.

In 2020, an establishment’s 2019 Form 300A data must be submitted to OSHA’s website by March 2, 2020.

OSHA defines an establishment as “a single physical location where business is conducted or where services or industrial operations are performed. For activities where employees do not work at a single physical location, such as construction; transportation; communications, electric, gas and sanitary services; and similar operations, the establishment is represented by main or branch offices, terminals, stations, etc. that either supervise such activities or are the base from which personnel carry out these activities.”


Furthermore, OSHA requires covered employers to submit their Employer Identification Number (EIN) electronically along with their injury and illness data submission from Form 300A, which will facilitate use of the data and may help reduce duplicative employer reporting.

How do you submit your 300A on the OSHA’s Injury Tracking Application?

The following methods can be used to submit your 300A data to the Injury Tracking Application:

  • Manually enter the data into a web form
  • Upload a CSV file to process single or multiple establishments at the same time
  • Users of automated systems can transmit data electronically via an API (application programming interface)

Note: OSHA recommends entering the data using the web forms rather than by creating and uploading a CSV file. 

Instructions for navigation of OSHA’s Injury Tracking Application (ITA website):

  1. Visit this website:
  2. Click on the following image on the right side of the page:

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  1. Click “Create an Account” and follow the instructions (please keep this information readily available just in case submission responsibilities change within the company to avoid delays in reporting)
  2. Once you are “live” on the website, create an establishment
  3. Add 300A Summary data (manually)
  4. Submit establishment data
  5. If uploading a CSV file with multiple establishments, click “Upload Batch File”
  6. To view your establishment, click “View establishments” on the home screen and edit information if needed

OSHA provides great step by step information on their website.  See OSHA’s Job Aids How – To Documentation

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Tips on what to have readily available before submission:

You will need the following information readily available to efficiently and successfully sign up for an account and submit your required information to OSHA:

  • Establishment name
  • NAICS Industry Code
  • Completed OSHA Form 300A for the previous year

Don’t forget, 2019 OSHA Form 300A injury and illness data must be submitted by March 2, 2020.

If you need further assistance utilize FAQs about the ITA  or contact U.S. Compliance. U.S. Compliance is fully prepared to assist you and your organization with this process. U.S. Compliance provides safety, health and environmental services to hundreds of facilities in the manufacturing and general industry sector across the country and can help you submit your OSHA 300A information electrically.

Certifying a Stormwater No Exposure Certification (NEC)

Water from rain and melted snow washes dirt, oil, garbage and chemicals into nearby rivers and streams. This can be very hazardous to the health of these water channels and the land surrounding them. Keeping industrial materials in a storm-resistant shelter protects surrounding waterways from exposure to the potentially harmful effects of industrial stormwater runoff.      


The No Exposure Certification (NEC) is an option under Federal & State Industrial Stormwater Permits, commonly referred to as Multi-Sector General Permits (MSGPs). The associated federal regulations were established during the 1987 Clean Water Act (CWA) Amendment. The goal of the permits is to implement sector-specific requirements to eliminate non-point sources of pollution. The NEC option is a significant benefit to industrial facilities, as it can eliminate these types of permit requirements while reducing overall environmental impact.

Non-point source pollution is caused by rainfall or snowmelt moving over and through the property of a facility while picking up industrial pollutants that are exposed outdoors. Common pollutants include suspended solids, oils & greases, pH, heavy metals, oxygen-demanding substances (organic materials), nutrients (phosphorus and nitrogen) and various types of toxins. Polluted stormwater runoff is a leading cause of impairment to the U.S. water bodies that do not meet water quality standards.

At the federal level, the EPA’s current MSGP became effective on June 4, 2015, and 29 industrial and commercial sectors apply to the permit.  Most states have their own version of this permit and because they are all based on the EPA’s MSGP, the NEC requirements are very similar.


MSGPs contain a list of Standard Industrial Codes (SIC) that apply to the permit. Once a facility has determined that their SIC code is applicable, they have two permitting options within the stormwater permit. These options are outlined below:

  1. Full Permit Coverage: The first option is to apply for full permit coverage that requires SWPPP development, Best Management Practices (BMPs), inspections, monitoring, reporting and employee training.
  2. NEC: The second option is to eliminate potential sources of pollution at a facility and submit an NEC. The NEC option eliminates most permitting requirements and only needs to be resubmitted every five years UNLESS exposure occurs at that site at any time during the 5-year term. If exposure occurs, full permit coverage is automatically needed.


For a facility to qualify for an NEC status, each facility must certify that there are NO industrial materials or activities exposed to precipitation at their site. To document the certification, each state’s NEC application contains the EPA’s “Exposure Checklist.” This checklist includes a list of materials and activities and requires the applicant to determine if any of these potential pollutants are exposed to stormwater at their facility by checking “yes” or “no.” The EPA’s Exposure Checklist is outlined on the following page:


As stated in the checklist, if “yes” is answered to any of the questions listed above, the facility is not eligible for an NEC.


If a facility has submitted an NEC and exposure occurs, agency enforcement is a real possibility. As a result, the facility would be required to obtain full permit coverage. Knowing this, most facilities that are aware of periodic exposure will choose full permit coverage. This allows flexibility within the outdoor operations and eliminates potential violations.


State agencies have come up with clever and efficient strategies to inspect a facility’s NEC status. Some states are actively reviewing aerial photos (available online), or simply driving by a facility to verify an NEC. There are even some states that require an onsite inspection after each NEC is submitted.


If your facility is claiming a No Exposure Certification, then you must ensure that the No Exposure status is (and always will be) continuously maintained. If not, full permit coverage should be considered to avoid violations and to increase flexibility at your site.

GIR Rule Impact on RCRA Waste Generators: Highlights as States are Impacted


In 2017, the US EPA finalized updates to the RCRA regulations, called the Hazardous Waste Generator Improvements Rule (GIR). The purpose of the update was to increase compliance within the hazardous waste generator community and allow some additional flexibility for managing hazardous waste. The overall impact of the rule change will lessen the regulatory burden for the majority of hazardous waste generators.

States with authorized hazardous waste programs will be required to adopt the more stringent provisions and have the option to choose if they want to adopt the less stringent or equally stringent provisions.  Most states are moving forward with fully adopting the rule change.

Some of the changes serve to emphasize best practices already utilized while some changes are completely new requirements. Overall, the EPA has finalized over 60 changes to the hazardous waste regulations. This paper will review the most impactful new requirements.


  • SQG re-notification will be due every four years on September 1, beginning in 2021
  • Labels on hazardous waste containers (including satellite accumulation containers) must identify the hazards of the waste. SQGs and LQGs must update their hazardous waste labels and may comply with other existing labeling requirements such as DOT, OSHA, or NFPA labels. The hazards must be identified with descriptive words, not just waste codes.
  • LQGs must prepare a quick reference guide for their contingency plan and submit both the guide and plan to local emergency response agencies. LQGs must prepare the contingency plan quick reference guide when their plan is next updated or whenever they become an LQG. The quick reference guide must include:
  • The names of hazardous wastes onsite and the hazards associated with each waste
  • An estimate of the amount of hazardous waste present onsite
  • Any hazardous wastes that would require unique or special treatment by medical personnel
  • A map showing where hazardous waste is generated, accumulated and treated and routes to access the waste
  • A street map to show access to the facility and surrounding area
  • The location of the water supply
  • Identification of onsite notification systems
  • The names of the emergency coordinators and 24-hr phone numbers


  • SQGs and VSQGs may have episodic generation events above their generation limits without having to comply with all the requirements of the greater generator size. This will allow for periodic or unexpected cleanups of hazardous waste.
  • VSQGs may send their hazardous waste to an LQG under control of the same person for consolidation. The VSQG must label its containers with the words “hazardous waste” and an indication of the hazards of the waste. The LQG must submit a notification to the EPA and follow all other routine container management practices for waste received from a VSQG.
  • LQGs may apply for a waiver from the local fire authority to store their ignitable or reactive hazardous waste within 15 meters of their property line
  • Generators are allowed to keep satellite accumulation containers open when temporary venting of a container is necessary


  • Conditionally Exempt Small Quantity Generator (CESQG) changed to Very Small Quantity Generator (VSQG)
  • Reorganization of the hazardous waste generator regulation publication order


Individually authorized states must adopt the generator improvements rule in order for the rules to be effective in that state. Until a facility’s state adopts the rules, these changes do not apply in that area.

Authorized states were given until July 1, 2018, to adopt the rule, or July 1, 2019, if a state law change is needed. As of May 2019, the generator improvements rule is effective in 21 states. It is expected that the majority of states that have not yet adopted the rules will not meet the July 1, 2019, deadline. While the implications of states not meeting the July 1 deadline are unclear, it is important to pay attention to changes happening in your facility’s state.


While the goal of the generator improvements rule was to increase compliance and allow flexibility in following hazardous waste regulations, the changes may still be confusing. Be sure to understand your state requirements and watch for changes as the rules are adopted.

Heat Stress – Reducing Employee Risk

As working environment temperatures increase due to the season or other factors, heat-related risks can be effectively reduced for employees working inside or outside using a combination of controls and knowledge. What do you need to know to protect your employees?

  • The level of heat stress exposure at your facility
  • The human body’s response to heat stress
  • Steps that can be taken to prevent heat-related illnesses

Let’s briefly review each of these topics to help reduce the risk of heat stress for your employees.


Being aware of heat-related environmental conditions is the first step in prevention.

Ambient temperature alone is often not the complete picture, especially when working in a setting where the climate isn’t controlled, like when working outdoors. Four environmental factors affect the amount of heat stress a worker faces in a hot work area: ambient temperature, humidity, radiant heat (such as from the sun or a furnace) and air velocity. Tools for monitoring heat stress levels are available for indoor and outdoor environments. The heat index provided by the National Weather Service (NWS) indicates the “real feel” of the temperature outside using a combination of temperature and humidity factors. A Wet Bulb Global Temperature (WBGT) is recorded using a dedicated instrument and is a combination of temperature, wind/air velocity, solar/infrared radiation and humidity, and can be measured outdoors or indoors.

There’s an app for that! A heat stress mobile phone app developed by OSHA and NIOSH is available for employees working outdoors that will display a real-time heat index and heat-related stress risk factor by zip code or phone location. Evaluating the risk is always the first step in hazard prevention.


The human body responds to the stress of excess heat in various ways as it continuously works to maintain the core body temperature within a couple of degrees of the average “normal” of 98.6°F. When the body’s ability to self-regulate its core temperature fails and it continues to rise uncontrolled, serious consequences, including death, are possible.  Equally important to the environmental factors are personal characteristics such as age, weight, fitness, medical condition and acclimatization to the heat.

The body reacts to high external temperatures by increasing the heart rate and shunting blood to the skin which increases skin temperature and allows the body to give off its excess heat via convection and to a lesser degree, conduction. The effectiveness of this cooling is dependent on the immediate environment, the physical characteristics of the person and the manual labor they are performing.

Sweating is another means the body uses to maintain a stable internal body temperature in the face of heat.  Sweating is only effective if the humidity level is low enough to permit evaporation and if the fluids and salts lost are adequately replaced.

If the body cannot dispose of excess heat, it will store it.  When this happens, the body’s core temperature rises, and heat-related illnesses will manifest.


Heat Rash

Heat rash, also known as prickly heat, may occur in hot and humid environments where sweat is not easily removed from the surface of the skin by evaporation.  When extensive or complicated by infection, heat rash can be so uncomfortable that it inhibits sleep, can impede a worker’s performance, and can even result in temporary total disability.  It can be prevented by resting in a cool place and allowing the skin to dry.

Heat Cramps

Heat cramps – painful spasms of the muscles – are caused by not drinking enough fluids or failing to replace electrolytes lost via sweating.  Tired muscles – those used for performing the work – are usually the ones most susceptible to cramps.  Cramps may occur during or after working hours and may be relieved by taking liquids by mouth or saline solutions intravenously if severe and medically determined to be required.

Heat Exhaustion

Heat exhaustion results from an excess of retained heat in the body and loss of fluids and electrolytes through sweating. The worker with heat exhaustion still sweats but experiences other symptoms, including:

  • extreme weakness or fatigue
  • giddiness
  • nausea and/or headache
  • skin is clammy and moist
  • complexion pale or flushed
  • core body temperature is frequently slightly elevated

Treatment involves allowing the victim to rest in a cool place and drink water or an electrolyte solution (a beverage used by athletes to quickly restore potassium, calcium, and magnesium salts).  Severe cases involving victims who lose consciousness necessitate a 911/EMS call. If treatment is not provided, heat exhaustion may progress quickly to life-threatening heatstroke.


Heatstroke, the most serious health problem for workers in hot environments, is caused by the failure of the body’s internal mechanism to regulate its core temperature.  Sweating stops and the body can no longer rid itself of excess heat.

Symptoms of heatstroke include:

  • mental confusion, delirium, loss of consciousness, convulsions or coma
  • a body temperature of 106°F or higher
  • hot dry skin, which may be red, mottled or bluish

Victims of heatstroke necessitate a 911/EMS call and may die if not treated promptly.  While awaiting the arrival of EMS, the victim must be moved to a cool and/or shaded area with his/her outer clothing and boots loosened or removed. If possible, wet down the body and fan vigorously to increase cooling.  Apply cold packs to armpits and groin if available. Prompt first aid can prevent permanent injury to the brain and other vital organs.


Most heat-related health problems can be prevented or the risk of developing them reduced. Following a few basic precautions should lessen heat stress risk.

A variety of engineering controls may be helpful, including general ventilation and spot cooling by local exhaust ventilation at points of high heat production. For example, shielding is required as protection from radiant heat sources while evaporative cooling and mechanical refrigeration are other methods to reduce heat; eliminating steam leaks and proper maintenance of equipment will also help.  Equipment modifications, the use of power tools to reduce manual labor and personal cooling devices, or protective clothing are other ways to reduce the hazards of heat exposure for workers.

Work practices, such as providing plenty of drinking water (as much as a quart per worker per hour), sports drinks and even popsicles in a breakroom freezer can help reduce the risk of heat disorders. Employers should also consider an individual worker’s physical condition when determining his or her fitness for working in hot environments.  Older workers, obese workers and personnel on some types of medication are at a greater risk.

Alternating work and rest periods with longer rest periods in a cool area can help workers avoid heat stress.  If possible, heavy work should be scheduled during the cooler parts of the day, and appropriate protective clothing should be provided.  Supervisors should be trained to detect early signs of heat stress and should permit workers to interrupt their work if they are extremely uncomfortable.

Acclimatization to the heat through short exposures followed by longer periods of work in the hot environment can reduce heat stress.  New employees and workers returning from an absence of two weeks or more should have a 5-day period of acclimatization.  This period should begin with 50 percent of the normal workload and time exposure the first day, and gradually begin building up to 100 percent on the 5th day.

Training is vital so that employees are aware of the hazards, risk factors including hydration level (urine color chart), early warning signs, symptoms of heat-related illnesses, first-aid treatments and when to call 911. Training first-aid workers to recognize and treat heat stress disorders and making the names of trained staff known to all workers is also recommended.

Following these recommendations can prevent heat-related illness in your workplace. For more information on preventing heat-related illness in the workplace, visit the OSHA website at or contact US Compliance.

U.S. Compliance provides safety, health and environmental services to hundreds of facilities in the manufacturing and general industry sector across the country and can help you develop an effective Heat Stress Prevention Program.