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

Injury Management 101

Injury management is an important part of any facility’s safety management program. Facilities should have a plan to prevent injuries from happening, as well as a plan to handle the effects of an injury on the facility and employee. Injury Management can be broken down into three portions: (1) Ways to prevent injuries from occurring, (2) mitigating the effects of an injury on the business, and (3) returning the employee to work as soon as possible. When a facility implements programs and takes the steps to minimize the effects of an injury, it can reduce the total cost and impact of the injury.

Costs of injuries can be broken down into two categories, direct and indirect costs. Direct costs of an injury are the costs that are directly associated with the injury, such as medical treatment, medicine, or physical therapy. Meanwhile, indirect costs are costs that are sometimes forgotten, such as a loss of productivity, equipment damage, retraining employees, or overtime. Indirect costs can often be more expensive than the direct costs of an injury—sometimes up to 10 times that of the direct costs. Implementing injury prevention and return to work programs can help a facility reduce the overall costs associated with workplace injuries.

Ways to Prevent Workplace Injuries From Occurring

Injury and Illness Prevention Programs

Injury and Illness Prevention (I2P2) Programs are a preventative approach to reducing workplace injuries by identifying and controlling hazards prior to injuries occurring. I2P2 programs incorporate effective injury prevention methods such as employee-run safety committees, employee safety observation/reporting opportunities, and near miss reporting. Implementation of these programs engages employees in the safety program and gives them the opportunity to participate in identifying and correcting potential safety issues. This allows for the facility to apply the necessary controls to the hazards identified prior to any injury occurring. Not only can the implementation of an I2P2 program help to reduce injuries, but it can also help to develop or improve the overall safety culture of the facility.

Job Hazard Assessments

Job Hazard Assessments (JHAs) are a method to identify and control hazards before injuries occur. JHAs are a required part of a facility’s injury prevention program. A JHA takes a detailed look at the steps required for completing an employee task while assessing it for hazards (i.e., mechanical hazards, struck-by hazards, chemical hazards, etc.). Once the hazards associated with the task are identified, then controls for each task must be implemented. This process can help to identify and control hazards associated with employee tasks to prevent injuries from occurring.

Mitigating the Effects of Workplace Injuries on the Facility

Injury Investigation

Once a workplace injury occurs, we must be prepared and know what to do next. The first step should always involve getting the injured employee the assistance they need while ensuring other employees’ safety. The next step is to complete a thorough injury investigation. Generally, the supervisor of the area where the incident occurred will lead the investigation with assistance from witnesses, the injured employee, or the safety manager. The employees involved in the incident investigation may differ depending on the severity or complexity of the incident. More complicated incidents may require collaboration from multiple departments to determine the cause. When conducting an injury investigation, it is important to identify the true root cause of the injury. Once the root cause of the injury is identified, then corrective actions must be implemented. The goal of the corrective actions should be to ensure that the same type of injury will not happen again.

Return to Work Program

Implementation of a return to work program can help to manage an employee injury and reduce the impact of the indirect costs associated with the injury. After an injury occurs, the goal should be to get the injured employee back to work as soon as possible, even if they must participate in light-duty work. Participating in light-duty work can reduce some of the indirect costs incurred by the facility and keep the employee at work on active duty rather than at home.

Steps to developing a return to work program:

  1. Analyze historical loss data:
    Review of OSHA 300 logs or injury reports to help identify injury trends or patterns in areas that may need additional controls.
  2. Develop written job descriptions:
    Simply written statements that describe the work to be performed and the essential requirements of the job. Job descriptions should include information such as tasks of the job, physical demands, environmental demands, training/educational requirements. Written job descriptions can help with planning production processes.
  3. Develop transitional jobs:
    Review tasks within the facility that could be considered as transitional duty options: data entry, cleaning, inventory controls, etc. Once the transitional duties are selected, job descriptions must be written for these tasks as well. The written transitional job descriptions can be compared to employees’ restrictions to determine if transitional work is a viable option.
  4. Select a “preferred provider” for medical treatment:
    Facilities should identify and establish relationships with medical providers that employees would visit for work-related injuries. The “preferred provider” chosen should specialize in industrial injuries and understand the type of work completed. The facility should work with the preferred provider to ensure that they understand the basic requirements of the jobs at the facility and the transitional jobs available. The preferred provider can also be invited to tour the facility to better understand the job descriptions.
  5. Ensure effective communication with the physician:
    Clear and effective communication with the providing physician after a work-related injury is imperative. The facility will need to ensure that the physician has provided a diagnosis of the injury and a detailed description of the limitations of the injured employee. Communication is also important after all follow-up visits to determine any possible changes to employees’ restrictions.

Injury management is an essential process in reducing the effect of workplace injuries on a business. Implementing I2P2 programs and return to work programs can greatly reduce the cost and impact of work-related injuries.

Stormwater Pollution Prevention Plans (SWPPPs): Keeping Your Plan Compliant

If your facility performs industrial activities outside or has outdoor storage, there is a good possibility that you are applicable to general industrial stormwater permitting. Whether you are familiar with the requirements of your industrial stormwater permit or are looking to apply for permit coverage for the first time, all general industrial stormwater permittees are required to develop a stormwater pollution prevention plan, or SWPPP as it is commonly known. This plan outlines important details about your facility and how your facility intends to comply with your stormwater permitting requirements.

Your SWPPP and its supporting documents are some of the first things that inspectors will look at when assessing your facility for compliance. It is crucial to make sure that your SWPPP meets all regulatory requirements and stays up to date. Whether you are developing your first SWPPP or reviewing your current one, below are some items you don’t want to miss including.

Common SWPPP Requirements

Pollution Prevention Team

First and foremost, your SWPPP needs to identify who at your facility will be responsible for both developing the SWPPP and carrying out the requirements of your stormwater permit. Their responsibilities include, but are not limited to, completing inspections and sampling, conducting corrective actions when permit non-compliance occurs and updating the SWPPP when changes occur onsite.

Assessment of Onsite Storage and Activities

All SWPPPs need to identify what industrial activities at your facility have the potential to impact stormwater. The EPA defines industrial materials or activities that need to be considered under 40 CFR 122.26(g). These include activities such as:

  • Material handling equipment or activities (including the storage, loading and unloading, transportation, disposal, or conveyance of any raw material, intermediate product, final product, or waste product);
  • Industrial machinery;
  • Storage and handling of raw materials;
  • Industrial production and processes; and
  • Intermediate products, by-products, final products, and waste products.

Make sure that you are considering all of your outdoor activities and storage when making this list. Everything from occasional equipment maintenance to exhaust stacks from processing areas, and something as simple as uncovered dumpsters to loading and unloading practices should be listed in your SWPPP.

Once you have identified your industrial activities and materials that take place in outdoor areas exposed to stormwater runoff, you will also need to identify what potential pollutants are associated with each. For example, a fueling station onsite would have the potential to pollute stormwater with oil and grease. Similarly, a scrap metal dumpster has the potential to pollute stormwater with various metals. Even mostly finished goods could have residual oils and chemicals on them, which have the potential to pollute stormwater.

Control Measures for Potential Pollutants

Once your industrial activities and their potential to pollute are identified, you will need to identify control measures, or best management practices (BMPs), to prevent or reduce the discharge of pollutants in stormwater. The SWPPP provides a place to outline what site-specific control measures are implemented at your facility. Below are some examples of control measures that should be addressed in your SWPPP.

  • Minimize Exposure – Anything done onsite that helps minimize the exposure of your materials to stormwater should be documented in your SWPPP. This could be finding space indoors or offsite for material previously stored outside, or covering materials with awnings or tarps to minimize exposure to runoff.
  • Good Housekeeping – The frequency and description of good housekeeping practices implemented at your facility should be covered in your SWPPP. This can be as simple as noting the frequency of trash pickups to prevent overflow or committing to keeping outdoor storage areas debris-free. Finally, include employee training on the importance of cleaning up any mishandled materials immediately to prevent them from being washed offsite during the next rain event.
  • Maintenance – Make sure maintenance programs for any outdoor industrial equipment and/or systems are referenced or outlined in your SWPPP. Most permits also require a preventative maintenance log to note when this maintenance takes place.
  • Spill Prevention and Response Procedures – Identify measures implemented onsite to minimize the potential for spills, leaks, and any other releases from material stored outdoors, or even near doorways in your building. If you have other spill plans at your facility, be sure to reference them in your SWPPP.

Consult your permit for all mandatory control measures that should be addressed in your SWPPP.

Site Maps

As you’re identifying your materials and activities stored outside, you will want to note their location for your site map. All SWPPPs include a site map that outlines where industrial materials and activities are located throughout the property. It identifies stormwater runoff features, such as the direction of flow, storm drains, and final outfalls where stormwater leaves your property. The map should be used as your road map during facility inspections. Your permit will typically list in detail what items are required for your site map. Be sure to check that list thoroughly to make sure an inspector doesn’t catch something you missed.

Sector Requirements

Not all industries will have the same industrial activities and potential pollutants onsite. The federal general stormwater permit and many state permits list additional permit requirements for different sectors of industry listed in the permit. These sectors will outline stormwater sampling specific to your industry, additional common industrial materials or activities that need to be added to your SWPPP and site map, and even additional inspection or reporting requirements. Do not forget to add these requirements to your SWPPP and follow them throughout the term of your permit.

Permit Requirements

One of the most important parts of your SWPPP is outlining the procedures you have in place to comply with your permit requirements. This typically includes, but is not limited to:

  • routine facility inspections,
  • quarterly visual assessments,
  • reporting,
  • analytical sampling, and
  • corrective action reports.

These tools help you determine if your control measures are working to minimize pollutants, give you an opportunity to review your SWPPP, and make sure that all other areas are in compliance with your permit. Most permits require at least three years of these records to be kept onsite and will definitely be reviewed should your facility be inspected.

Updating Your SWPPP

It is important to remember that your SWPPP is a living document. It should reflect any changes in personnel, outdoor storage, best management practices, and stormwater discharge from your facility throughout the term of your permit. If your SWPPP is not up to date, it could result in corrective actions or even a violation. Below are common triggers for updating your SWPPP.

Changes to Storage

If there are any major changes to outdoor storage or the industrial activities taking place at your facility, these need to be added to your SWPPP. The addition of new material needs to not only include a description of the material, but also a consideration of how that material or activity could potentially pollute stormwater and what BMPs should be implemented to minimize those pollutants.

Corrective Actions

Certain problems discovered during visual or routine site inspections, or the exceedance of your benchmark limits after an analytical sample, can trigger corrective actions. Sometimes this includes extra inspections that must be conducted and filed in your SWPPP, or even submitted to your permitting authority. If, as a result of corrective actions, you make updates to your best management practices or onsite storage, you will want to be sure to update your SWPPP with those changes.

Changes to personnel

It is important that your pollution prevention team and spill emergency contacts are up to date. If your main SWPPP contact changes, there is also a good possibility that an official change form will need to be submitted to your permitting authority. You don’t want to miss reporting reminders, inspection requests, or any other items sent by the permitting authority to an out-of-date site contact. This can lead to surprise inspections or missed violations if communications from your permitting authority are not reaching your pollution prevention team members.

Permit Renewal

And finally, while most permit renewals do not require a complete rewrite of your facility’s SWPPP, you will certainly be responsible for reviewing the new permit and updating your SWPPP with any new requirements. Below are general permits expiring in 2021 alone:

  • Michigan
  • Wisconsin
  • North Carolina
  • Louisiana
  • Nebraska
  • Texas
  • Pennsylvania
  • South Carolina
  • Connecticut
  • Kansas
  • Main
  • Utah (Group 4)

If you need help putting together your SWPPP or any of its components, contact U.S. Compliance. Our team assists hundreds of facilities with health, safety, and environmental compliance and can help you put together an effective plan.

 

Sources

https://www.epa.gov/sites/production/files/2015-11/documents/swppp_guide_industrial_2015.pdf

 

OSHA’s Regulatory Agenda, Strategy and Emphasis Programs – Setting Up Your Year for Success

OSHA’s Regulatory Agenda

Understanding OSHA’s regulatory agenda and priorities for 2021 can help your business maintain compliance and avoid costly fines. OSHA’s Regulatory Agenda and the recently published Site-Specific Targeted Inspections guidance help provide insight into regulatory areas that this year’s inspections will focus on. This information is critical for evaluating the likelihood of an OSHA inspection at your facility. More importantly, it can help you prioritize onsite health & safety initiatives for 2021 and beyond.

OSHA Inspection Strategy

OSHA has a priority hierarchy for conducting onsite inspections. The following details the criteria in order of precedence:

  1. Imminent Danger Situations – Hazards that could cause death or serious physical harm receive top priority.
  2. Severe Injuries & Illnesses – Workplace fatalities must be reported within 8 hours and hospitalizations/amputations/losses of eye must be reported within 24 hours. Failure to properly report these incidents to OSHA will likely result in an inspection.
  3. Worker Complaints – Allegations of hazards or violations receive a high priority by OSHA.
  4. Referrals – Hazards identified by other federal agencies, state/local agencies, individuals, and the media can result in inspections.
  5. Targeted Inspections – Inspections aimed at high-hazard industries or individual workplaces that have experienced high rates of injuries and illnesses.
  6. Follow-up Inspections – Checks for the abatement of violations cited during previous inspections are also conducted by OSHA in certain circumstances.

Site-Specific Targeted Inspections

On December 14, 2020, OSHA established a directive that aims for Site-Specific Targeting (SST) of non-construction businesses with 20 or more employees. OSHA will review injury and illness data from 2017-2019 and target businesses who experienced consistent injury illness rate increases over the three-year data period. The agency will review DART rates (Days Away, Restricted, or Transferred) for facilities and compare those values against the industry’s national average. Facilities with DART rates consistently above the national average can be targeted by OSHA. OSHA will also target sites that failed to electronically submit their 300A OSHA Log between 2017-2019.

You can use the formula below to calculate the DART rate for your facility:

 

This table shows a listing of DART Rates by NAICS. You can use this data to see how your facility’s DART rate compares against the industry average. OSHA also has a helpful worksheet that you can use to record Incidence Rates.

National Emphasis Program

OSHA develops National Emphasis Programs (NEPs) in order to focus efforts on specific high-hazard industries. NEPs are evaluated by using available data from sources that include NIOSH reports, injury & illness data, and inspection data, among other available information. The following list provides examples of NEPs that OSHA has published. Businesses that process and manufacture these high-hazard materials and processes may be targeted for OSHA inspections.

  • Combustible Dust​
  • Hazardous Machinery​
  • Hexavalent Chromium​
  • Lead​
  • Primary Metal Industries​
  • Process Safety Management (PSM)​
  • Respirable Crystalline Silica

You can find out more information on National Emphasis Programs specific to your industry here.

Local Emphasis Program

Similar to NEPs, Local Emphasis Programs (LEPs) are developed by OSHA to target high-hazard industries within a particular region. LEPs are created and implemented at the regional level and are aimed to help bring awareness and reduce/eliminate specific hazards in high-hazard industries within a region. Each region has a set of LEPs that OSHA has published. For example, in Region 5 (IL, IN, MI, MN, OH, WI), Local Emphasis Programs are the following:

  • Fall Hazards in Construction and General Industry ​
  • Grain Handling Facilities​
  • Powered Industrial Vehicles​
  • Wood Pallet Manufacturing Industry

You can find out more information on Local Emphasis Programs specific to your industry here.

What’s Ahead for OSHA?

With the new Administration, it is anticipated that there will be a greater focus on enforcing OSHA standards. Year-over-year, unprogrammed OSHA inspections have increased between 2017-2019. It can be expected that this trend will continue in 2021; this is especially likely considering the down year in 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic. As businesses move past Covid-19, OSHA will begin returning to a more normal inspection schedule.

Stay up to date with current OSHA guidance to help maintain regulatory compliance at your facility by visiting our website or contacting us.

Safety Committees – Tips for an Effective Team

Safety Committees can be a multifaceted tool within any organization’s Health and Safety program. According to an article from EHS Today by Guy Burdick, “Having one could reduce the number of workplace injuries and illnesses and workers’ compensation claims while bolstering your compliance with federal or state occupational safety and health regulations.” However, there is an even greater benefit that occurs from a committee: fostering management involvement and employee engagement. This is really what is needed for the long-term success of any workplace safety and health management program.

In some states, Safety Committees are not just a tool but also a regulatory requirement. These six states include Connecticut, Minnesota, North Carolina, Tennessee, Vermont, and West Virginia. Safety Committees are typically required to be maintained within high-hazard or high-risk workplaces.

Below are some key steps to consider for maximizing even the smallest safety committee’s potential and bringing out the best of its staff.

  • Investment and Commitment: If you want to have a truly effective safety committee, you must be prepared to invest time and energy into developing it. It is better to invest the work on the front end than to constantly make corrections on the back end.
  • Establishing a Vision: Safety committees need structure, purpose, and a vision that calibrates their long-term goals versus their actual activities and performance. “What gets inspected gets respected.” This means that after establishing goals and performance benchmarks, the committee’s effectiveness can be measured and quantified. This momentum encourages further development and more effort over time.
  • Gathering Support: Safety Committees require support from the highest levels of management in order to be successful. Without management’s “buy in” and a demonstration of their commitment, employees will not believe in the program’s efforts or potential to affect change within their work environment. In other words, management must lead by example as well as be willing to grant employees enough independence to embrace their role as part of the committee.
  • Representation is Key: Safety committees should be composed of a fair distribution of employees, leads, supervisors, and managers, with representatives from every department across every shift. In some cases, having multiple committees to accommodate each shift may be necessary. When there is equal representation, a safety committee can effectively create a bridge between all departments as well as between the lowest and highest rungs of management.

These are just a few considerations for implementing a productive and effective Safety Committee. A properly implemented Safety Committee will serve to bolster the health and safety of all employees at your facility by positively improving its safety culture through improved engagement and employee representation.

Contingency Plans & Quick Reference Guides

In order to facilitate the response to a potential emergency, all Large Quantity Generators (LQGs) are required to submit a Contingency Plan. According to Title 40 CFR §262.261, a “contingency plan must describe the actions facility personnel must take to comply with §§262.260 and 262.265 in response to fires, explosions, or any unplanned sudden or non-sudden release of hazardous waste or hazardous waste constituents to air, soil, or surface water at the facility.” Requirements apply to all hazardous waste generators, but Large Quantity Generators (LQGs) have more requirements than Small Quantity Generators (SQGs).

Updates From Generator Improvements Rule

One key element of a Contingency Plan is the Quick Reference Guide. Beginning on October 28, 2016, the EPA introduced the Generator Improvements Rule (GIR), which has since been adopted by an increasing number of states throughout the US. As stated in this rule, the EPA replaced “the term ‘executive summary’ with the term ‘quick reference guide’ in order to more closely mirror the intended purpose of this document.” The reason for this name change is to allow emergency responders to more quickly evaluate the potential dangers of a situation and notify the proper contacts without having to find and read through a 20+ page document. The Quick Reference Guide is a primary example of the difference in requirements between LQGs and SQGs.

Elements of the Quick Reference Guide

There are three main components of an LQG Quick Reference Guide:

  1. Contingency Plan Quick Reference Guide
  2. Access Roads Map
  3. Facility Site Map

The Contingency Plan Quick Reference Guide acts as a direct summary of the Contingency Plan itself. This guide includes the names, phone numbers, and directions for contacting each of the emergency coordinators listed. As part of the GIR, the home addresses of these contacts no longer need to be listed. The guide also includes a list and description of each onsite notification system, including the type of system (i.e. intercom, facility phones, cell phones, etc.), the locations where the systems can be accessed, and directions on how to activate them. Lastly, the guide describes the types of hazardous waste(s) onsite, their associated hazards, storage locations, and the estimated maximum amount onsite. If there are any hazardous wastes that require unique or special treatment, that will also be defined in this section of the Quick Reference Guide.

The Access Roads Map is an integral part of the Quick Reference Guide as it depicts all the nearby intersections for directly accessing the facility. As is the overall purpose of the Quick Reference Guide, this is yet another element that has the potential to assist emergency personnel.

The Facility Site Map is beneficial for both emergency personnel and the people working onsite at the time of an emergency. This emergency response map includes the locations of fire extinguishers, water main supply, hazardous waste location(s), communication systems, exits, and evacuation routes.

Contingency Plans for SQGs

For an SQG, the Contingency Plan is a far simpler document. It operates primarily as an emergency contacts page. Much like the Quick Reference Guide for LQGs, the first two contacts listed are the Emergency and Alternate Emergency Coordinator who are to be contacted immediately upon discovery of a discharge or spill of hazardous material or waste. The contact information for the local police and fire departments must also be included, as well as the information for the US UPA National Response Center in the event of a release that could threaten human health outside the facility or reach surface water. Federal SQG Contingency plan requirements stipulate that this contingency plan must be posted at a phone near the hazardous waste accumulation area per §262.16(b)(9)(ii). It must also be noted that employees must be thoroughly familiar with proper waste handling and emergency procedures relevant to their responsibilities during normal facility operations and emergencies.

Keeping Contingency Plans up to Date

Per §262.263, a Contingency Plan and Quick Reference Guide must be reviewed and immediately updated whenever:

  1. Applicable regulations are revised;
  2. The plan fails in an emergency;
  3. The generator facility changes—in its design, construction, operation, maintenance, or other circumstances—in a way that materially increases the potential for fires, explosions, or releases of hazardous waste or hazardous waste constituents, or changes the response necessary in an emergency;
  4. The list of emergency coordinators changes; or
  5. The list of emergency equipment changes.

If any of these circumstances have occurred, US Compliance will gladly assist you in updating your Contingency Plan and Quick Reference Guide.

 

Sources

https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2016/11/28/2016-27429/hazardous-waste-generator-improvements-rule

TRI Reporting: Lead and the “Qualified Alloys”

Background

The Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) is a national, publicly available database that summarizes toxic chemical releases reported annually by industrial and federal facilities. It is a great resource that distributes vital information to the public and is used to inform decision-making by communities, government agencies, and others. Unfortunately, completing the annual July 1 disclosure report (commonly known as the TRI Report) that contributes to the database can be quite a headache for regulated industries.

The TRI report is required for any facility that manufactures, processes, or otherwise uses a reportable chemical over applicable thresholds. There are approximately 650 chemicals and 30 chemical categories that are subject to this regulation – you can download the full list here.

U.S. Compliance has a comprehensive article summarizing who is required to report and what common pitfalls they might encounter that can be referenced in this blog post. In general, facilities with 10 or more full-time employees that process more than 25,000 pounds in aggregate, or use greater than 10,000 pounds of any one TRI chemical, are required to report annually. These reports require facilities to disclose how much of the chemical they “released” in the calendar year, including air emissions, wastes sent for recycling or disposal, and discharges to stormwater or local wastewater treatment plants.

Get Started Early

Even though TRI reports for the 2020 calendar year won’t be due until July 1, it’s important to make sure that you have a plan to collect all the information needed to prepare and submit the report. Not only must facilities track their usage or generation of TRI-reportable materials, but they must also quantify their associated releases from those operations. This requires detailed information and a thorough understanding of the regulation. Many industries may struggle to retroactively assemble this data before the deadline. If you haven’t already devised a system for tracking this information, it’s best to begin doing so now. This process will likely require consultation with both chemical/material suppliers and other parties, such as waste haulers, recyclers, etc.

This is especially true for facilities that process or use metals. The EPA’s list of toxic chemicals includes a number of elemental metals. These metals are reportable not only if they are manufactured, processed, or otherwise used in pure form, but also if they are present as a constituent of an alloy. Because of this, in order to determine if you must file a TRI report, it is essential that you track the amount of metal that you use or process in a year. In addition, you will have to acquire information regarding the composition of those metals to determine if any reportable constituents are present. This information can be found by reviewing metal certifications or safety data sheets.

Determining Lead Reportability

One prominent metal that is subject to TRI reporting is lead, which is not surprising given its known deleterious effects on human health and the environment. Due to these effects, lead is further classified as a persistent bioaccumulative toxic (or PBT). While most chemicals are subject to the 25,000/10,000-pound threshold described above, PBTs are even more tightly regulated and have lower reporting thresholds. For lead, a facility must only use or process 100 pounds in a given year in order for it to be reportable. Like all reportable metals, even if lead is present within an alloy, it must be counted toward this reporting threshold. However, unlike other metals, the type of alloy that contains the lead impacts this reporting threshold due to an exception known as “qualified alloys.” Under this exception, lead contained with the qualified alloy groups of stainless steel, brass, and bronze reverts to the traditional reporting thresholds of 25,000/10,000-pounds. Lead that is not contained in one of these alloys is subject to a 100-pound reporting threshold.

Therefore, a facility is required to complete a TRI report for lead under either of the following circumstances:

  • Facility manufactures, processes, or otherwise uses more than 100 pounds of lead NOT contained within a qualified alloy
  • Facility manufactures or processes more than 25,000 pounds or otherwise uses 10,000 pounds of lead, including lead contained within a qualified alloy

 

Lead Contained in a Non-Qualified Alloy

If lead at your facility is used in pure form or in a non-qualified alloy, it is reportable at 100 pounds of annual usage. It’s important to note that it is not necessarily uncommon for lead to be found in a non-qualified alloy. In addition, because lead is a PBT, there is no regulatory de minimis level under which it is not required to be counted toward the reporting threshold. Therefore, even a trace amount of lead could be reportable if it is identified as present within a non-qualified alloy.

Lead Contained in a Qualified Alloy

If lead is present at your facility in a qualified alloy, you must assess applicability against the 25,000/10,000-pound reporting threshold. The EPA does not provide specific definitions for the qualified alloys but instead provides the following descriptions:

  • Stainless steel – a steel with a chromium content of 4% or more
  • Bronze – an alloy consisting primarily of copper and tin
  • Brass – an alloy consisting primarily of copper and zinc

Additional information that can be used to determine if an alloy used at your facility is considered a qualified alloy can be found in Appendix A of the EPA guidance document on the topic here.

In totaling the usage of lead within these alloys, a facility may use a de minimis level of 0.1%, meaning if lead is a constituent of a qualified alloy at less than 0.1%, it need not be counted toward the threshold. However, you MUST also include lead that is not contained in one of these qualified alloys in this assessment, if it is present. Therefore, your final total should reflect all lead that is present at the facility and not just lead contained in qualified alloys.

In Summary

If a facility processes or uses lead in a metal alloy, several considerations must be taken to determine TRI reportability. If the alloy is not brass, bronze, or stainless steel, the lead is reportable at 100 pounds and no de minimis level may be claimed. If the lead is found within a qualified brass, bronze, or stainless steel alloy, the threshold is raised to the traditional 25,000/10,000-pound amount. Only qualified alloys that contain lead at more than the de minimis level of 0.1% must be included in this calculation, along with any lead that is present in a non-qualified alloy. Once one of these thresholds is exceeded, a TRI report is required. It is possible for a facility to exceed one or both reporting criteria in a single year.

DOT Hazardous Materials – Understanding the Core Requirements

The transportation of hazardous materials (HazMat) within the United States is governed by the Hazardous Materials Transportation Act, with its purpose being to “protect against the risks to life, property, and the environment that are inherent in the transportation of hazardous material.” The regulations, which were created under the passage of this act, can be found in Title 49 of the US Code of Federal Regulations (CFR). These standards set forth the requirements for material classification and labeling, provide for packaging specifications, and afford operational rules that must be followed to ensure the safe transportation of hazardous materials.

A hazardous material is defined by the Department of Transportation (DOT) as “a substance or material that the Secretary of Transportation has determined is capable of posing an unreasonable risk to health, safety, and property when transported in commerce, and has been so designated.” This includes hazardous substances, hazardous wastes, marine pollutants, and elevated temperature materials. Common examples of DOT hazardous material include:

  • Explosives
  • Flammables
  • Compressed gases
  • Reactive materials
  • Oxidizers
  • Organic peroxides
  • Poisonous materials
  • Radioactive substances
  • Corrosives

There are many requirements that must be followed to ensure that hazardous materials are transported safely. The hazardous material must first be identified and described using a Proper Shipping Name (PSN) found in the HazMat Table (49 CFR 172.101). Proper Shipping Names are determined based on the physical state, properties, and intended uses of the material. This may be a specific-use name such as copper-based pesticide, liquid, or toxic, a chemical name such as Xylene, or it may be a more general hazard class description such as corrosive liquid, acidic, organic, or n.o.s. (not otherwise specified). Note that general hazard class descriptions will typically require additional information to be included alongside the Proper Shipping Name, like the technical names of the hazardous ingredients. Hazardous wastes will also require the word “waste” preceding the Proper Shipping Name. Once a Proper Shipping Name has been determined, the information contained for the row entry of the HazMat Table will be the guide for providing the information needed to send the HazMat on its way in a safe and compliant manner. This information includes the hazard class or division, the HazMat identification number, the packing group, label codes, special provisions, exceptions, acceptable packaging, quantity limitations, and vessel stowage information.

Following the designation of the Proper Shipping Name, the next step is to select the packaging that will be used to transport the HazMat. The hazardous materials packaging must be compatible, appropriate, and authorized for such use. Most shipments of HazMat necessitate the use of packaging that conforms to United Nations (UN) Performance Oriented Packaging (POP) requirements, indicated by a marking applied to the exterior of the package by the package manufacturer. Packaging for HazMat is subdivided into three groups:

  • Bulk packaging for large volume shipments in containers greater than 119 gallons
  • Non-bulk packaging for smaller shipments less than 119 gallons
  • Exception packaging for categorically defined small volume Limited Quantity shipments

Depending on the type of hazardous material to be shipped, these containers may be drums, pails, jerricans, boxes, bags, composite packaging, or a pressure receptacle.

Once a package has been selected, the required markings and labels will need to be applied to the exterior of the package. Markings typically found on a HazMat package include the United Nations identification number, the Proper Shipping Name, and the information communicating a responsible party. Specific hazards may also require the application of additional markings to communicate that a material is either a marine pollutant, is being shipped in a Limited Quantity, possesses an inhalation hazard, or is designated as an overpack. A label is the 3.9” square-on-point, which communicates the primary and subsidiary hazard associated with a HazMat. These labels contain the numeric hazard class or division at the bottom, are color-coded, and include a hazard class-specific symbol. When multiple labels are required, they must be applied immediately adjacent to one another to ensure effective communication.

Following the marking and labeling of the package, the shipment will need to be documented on a shipping paper. Shipping papers come in many forms but are most commonly encountered as a bill of lading or a hazardous waste manifest. Key elements of a shipping paper – which are required regardless of the type of shipping paper –  include the basic description (ID#, Proper Shipping Name, Hazard Class, and Packing Group), emergency response information, and a signed shipper certification. Other required elements that must be communicated on shipping papers include the total quantity of the material being shipped, the packaging type, and the number of packages offered for shipment.

When loading the HazMat onto the transport vehicle, it is important to consider the compatibility of the HazMat with the other hazardous materials on the vehicle. There are many incompatibilities that will prohibit transport or require the segregation of different types of hazardous materials being shipped together. To determine materials compatibility, you will need to reference the Load Segregation Table to determine how the HazMat must be stored, loaded, and transported; this is found in 49 CFR 177.848.

Before allowing the HazMat shipment vehicle to depart, the final step is to verify the application of placards, when required. Placards are larger versions of labels that are placed on the exterior of the transport vehicle. These placards will contain either the identification number or text indicating the hazards of the HazMat loaded onto the vehicle. The shipper of a HazMat is required to have placards available for the types of placardable quantity hazardous material shipments they may send out and to provide them upon request when shipping a placardable quantity of HazMat. The tables that delineate when placarding is required are found in 49 CFR 177.504.

Finally, the performance of any of these tasks classifies an employee as a DOT HazMat employee, which requires triennial training on DOT HazMat regulations. The DOT defines a HazMat employee as any person who is employed on a full-time, part-time, or temporary basis who, in the course of such employment, directly affects hazardous materials transportation safety. Specifically included are those employees who

  • Load, unload, or handle hazardous materials
  • Design, manufacture, fabricate, inspect, mark, maintain, or recondition HazMat packaging
  • Prepare hazardous materials for transportation
  • Are responsible for the safety of transporting hazardous materials
  • Operate a vehicle used to transport hazardous materials

U.S. Compliance can help if you discover opportunity areas when it comes to your DOT HazMat training obligations. Whether it be through onsite training or via our frequently held webinar trainings, we offer a variety of solutions to train your staff on DOT HazMat regulations to help keep you up to date and in compliance.

Parametric Monitoring: What It Is and How to Manage Abnormal Readings

The Clean Air Act (CAA) was established to protect public health and the environment from hazardous and harmful emission releases into the atmosphere. As part of the CAA, stationary source emissions monitoring was implemented; this provides data and information from a source to demonstrate compliance with certain regulatory requirements in federal or state rules, or in an operating permit.

Parametric Monitoring Systems

Parametric monitoring systems use observations of an operational parameter of an emission unit, emission process, or air pollution control device to indicate whether a condition of excess emissions that could violate an established emissions limit is occurring from a unit or process malfunction. Common examples of parametric monitoring systems include:

  • Fabric Filters/Baghouses/Dust Collectors: measurements of pressure drop across a filter using a manometer or Magnehelic gauge
  • Thermal Oxidizers/Flares: temperature readings using a thermocouple within a thermal oxidizer
  • Packed Bed Scrubbers: liquid flow rate through the column
  • Carbon Systems: volatile organic compound concentration readings
  • Particulate Matter (Dust) Emitted Processes or Exhaust Stacks: visible emission readings or opacity testing using EPA Test Method 9

How Data is Used

Parametric monitoring is used to demonstrate compliance with an operational limit or range established by an air permit or applicable air compliance regulations and is performed at a frequency established by those sources. Records of the required indicator are used to document that operations occurred within the permitted or regulatory range or limit. Records are also used to indicate what corrective actions a facility took when an out-of-range or under/over limit (“abnormal”) observation occurs. These records are required to be kept for the time frame indicated by the permit or regulation and are often used for permit or regulatory reporting.

Deviations and Exceedances

When a parametric monitoring system indicates an abnormal observation, this may not be considered a deviation from permit or regulatory requirements if efforts to correct the condition are well-documented. On a case-by-case basis, whether an abnormal observation is considered a deviation is dictated by the facility’s permit or the air compliance regulations that the facility is subject to. In general, there are some common steps that should be taken immediately when an abnormal observation is recorded:

  • If safe and if necessary, shut down the emissions unit or process to avoid an excess emissions condition;
  • Document the date, time, duration, and suspected cause of the abnormal observation, the cause of the issue, and any corrective action(s) taken to fix the issue;
  • Review the permit or regulations to determine what reporting may be required.

Documenting the abnormal observation is essential for compliance as recording an abnormal observation without also recording troubleshooting and corrective actions is almost always considered a deviation from permit or regulatory requirements. Records of abnormal observations are commonly required to be reported on compliance reports to the regulatory agency. When these reports must be submitted and what format is required will be detailed in the facility’s permit or the subject air compliance regulations.

Potential for Enforcement

In cases where minor excursions occur, such as pressure drop readings across a baghouse outside of a permitted range or an oxidizer temperature dropping slightly below an established minimum, the regulatory agency may not pursue any enforcement as long as the facility can demonstrate that corrective actions were taken and that the abnormal condition no longer exists. In cases where major excursions have occurred, such as abnormal observations for an extended period of time, excess emissions exceeding regulatory standards, or repeated mismanagement of monitoring requirements, enforcement action by the regulatory agency may be taken, which could include a monetary penalty.

In Summary

Parametric monitoring is using a tool or equipment (even your eyes in some cases) to indicate a facility’s compliance with permit limits and/or air compliance regulations. Parametric monitoring can be used to keep emission units, processes, and control equipment functioning properly, and the records from parametric monitoring are used to demonstrate compliance. Abnormal observations may indicate a system problem that could, in turn, lead to an excess emissions condition. When an abnormal observation occurs, immediate efforts should be documented to troubleshoot and fix the issue, and reporting, as required by a facility’s air permit or regulation, must be completed.

Environmental Reporting and Covid-19

The upcoming environmental reporting season includes major obligations for most programs. With business as usual disrupted for the past couple of months, it is important to prepare the necessary information in order to submit accurate reports despite furloughs and temporary closures. With the expiration of the EPA’s COVID Temporary Enforcement Policy on August 31, 2020, it is important to understand how regulatory agencies are exercising their enforcement.

Are regulatory deadlines in effect?

Yes. There has been consistent communication that all deadlines and requirements remain the same throughout this period for both essential and non-essential businesses. Permit renewals and reporting deadlines have proceeded uninterrupted over the past six months, and the same should be expected moving forward. Unless there has been specific communication from a local regulatory authority on individual permits, presume that all deadlines are in place.

What if I have a gap in data?

With furloughs, temporary shutdowns, and skeleton crews common during the pandemic, it is likely something was overlooked in the past six months. Under the EPA’s reduced enforcement memo, a gap in data could be considered exempt from enforcement action under certain circumstances. It is expected that facilities submit reports as usual, along with clarification around data gaps to help the case for enforcement exclusion. The EPA has provided guidance for this specific scenario, which requires that facilities:

  • A. Act responsibly under the circumstances in order to minimize the effects and duration of any noncompliance caused by COVID-19 public health emergency;
  • B. Identify the specific nature and dates of the noncompliance;
  • C. Identify how COVID-19 public health emergency was the cause of the noncompliance, and the decisions and actions taken in response, including best efforts to comply and steps taken to come into compliance at the earliest opportunity;
  • D. Return to compliance as soon as possible; and
  • E. Document the information, action, or condition specified in a. through d.
  • Source: https://www.epa.gov/enforcement/frequent-questions-about-temporary-covid-19-enforcement-policy#11

By submitting a partial report, facilities are demonstrating a commitment to remain compliant moving forward. Clear and consistent documentation around data gaps and missed requirements are essential for building your case for reduced enforcement action.

What are State and local organizations doing?

For many organizations, environmental regulations happen at the state and local levels. In some cases, the state and local organizations have policies that differ from the EPA policy. Here’s a snapshot of what’s going on around the country.

California Air Resource Board (CARB)

CARB regulations are in effect and deadlines apply.

California: Riverside County 

Riverside County Environmental Health defined Underground Storage Tank (UST) work activities as critical infrastructure, allowing UST service technicians and contractors to continue to work.

Minnesota MPCA

“All regulated entities remain obligated to take all available actions necessary to ensure compliance with environmental laws, regulations and permit requirements.”

Missouri DNR

“The department encourages all regulated entities to […] pursue all available actions necessary to ensure compliance with environmental regulations and permit requirements.”

South Carolina DHEC

“Regulated entities should remain diligent in taking safe best efforts to maintain compliance. However, in the event that non-compliance is unavoidable directly due to impact from COVID-19 and/or related legal restrictions (federal/state/local declarations or orders), we are prepared to address such issues.”

Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ)

“Due to COVID-19 and reduced staff in the TCEQ workplace, TCEQ may exercise administrative relief and enforcement discretion for various reporting requirements by regulated entities.”

US Compliance is tracking these changes to ensure the most up to date information is available. As the reporting season approaches, it is important to obtain and organize this information for timely and accurate reports.

Ergonomics: Keys to Injury Reduction

Whether we spend our day sitting in an office chair or working on a production floor, we are all affected by ergonomic factors. Poor management of ergonomic risk factors may lead to Work-Related Musculoskeletal Disorders (WMSDs) such as repetitive stress injuries, lower back injuries, vibration syndromes, subluxation, and neck and shoulder injuries. In order to protect ourselves and our employees, we need to understand what ergonomic risks we are exposed to, and more importantly, how to control these risks to prevent injuries. WMSDs result from the exposure to ergonomic risk factors, which include but are not limited to:

  • Highly repetitive work/activities (repetition)
  • Exertion of extreme forces or vibration (force)
  • Performing stressful activities for a long period of time (duration)
  • Assuming postures that are unnatural for the body (awkward postures)
  • Working in adverse environmental conditions such as high or low temperatures, antagonistic lighting conditions (glare/reflection, etc.), loud noises, etc. (environment)

Let’s briefly review each of these ergonomic risk factors to aid in understanding what risks you or your employees may be exposed to.

Repetition

Highly repetitive work activities stress ligaments and joints that can lead to sprains and strains. Examples of repetitive motion injuries may include:

  • Tendinitis – Inflammation of the muscle tendons
  • Tenosynovitis – Inflammation of the tendon and sheath covering the muscle
  • Carpal Tunnel Syndrome – Compression of the median nerve in the wrist

Highly repetitive work is often complicated by adding stressors from awkward positions, long durations, and forceful exertions.

Force

Using the body to exert high or extreme forces are often encountered with material handling, grasping, and lifting tasks. High forces are considered hazardous when the capabilities of the involved body parts are not able to easily adapt to the forces exerted (which are often exaggerated by repetitive motion and awkward positions). For example, overexerting oneself while lifting a heavy object is common. Other hazardous exertions may include high speed or jerky movements, such as swinging or throwing objects, pushing or pulling materials, or compressive loads from holding or carrying heavy objects.

Long Duration

Long activity duration may create tension and/or compression of tissues, compromising their integrity and ability to adapt to the stressors placed upon them. Examples may include but are not limited to:

  • Standing in the same location
  • Static postures or not moving for long periods of time
  • Looking down for extended periods
  • Minimal or non-rotation of positions
  • Extended computer or desk work

Awkward Postures

Assuming postures that are outside of normal, often symmetric positions for the body inefficiently transfers forces throughout the body, compromising both hard and soft tissues in the body. This hazard complicates or worsens all of the other Ergonomic Hazards. Examples of awkward posture hazards may include:

  • Slouching in a chair or while standing
  • Looking down at a handheld device
  • Forward translation of the head while working at a computer
  • Flexion of the wrist to reach into a jar
  • Bending at the waist to pick up a container
  • Lifting or moving an object that is either above the shoulders or below the waist

Environment

Workplace environmental conditions may amplify or complicate other ergonomic hazards. Examples of environmental workplace conditions may include:

  • High Heat
  • Freezer/Cooler Work
  • Loud Noise
  • Low lighting
  • Glare or Reflection
  • Shift Work

Prevention of Work-Related Musculoskeletal Disorders

Workplace tasks are unique and often require a customized assessment to identify the hazards in a workstation and understand the risks related to those hazards. The goal of any ergonomic control is to decrease the hazards that workers encounter in their tasks and to build-in adaptability to the work station. Making work stations suitable for a variety of workers with different body sizes and types allows workers to work effectively and efficiently, ultimately fitting the workplace to the worker.

Facility Assessments are the first step of an Ergonomics Program, targeted at objectively assessing all key positions in the facility. This aids in increasing knowledge and targeting where controls are needed most. Advance assessments will incorporate a Risk Assessment, which objectively scores the positions in regards to risk and severity to aid with ranking and prioritizing, determining expected risk reduction for various controls, and for comparison after controls are implemented.

Engineering Controls, including the use of adjustable workstations (height adjustability, tilting of work tables, etc.), the provision of material handling equipment to minimize lifting hazards, the use of ergonomically designed hand and power tools, and the automation of processes to aid in reducing or eliminating risk factors (noting that this may be cost prohibitive but also leads to efficiency and decreased worker counts).

Administrative Controls may include promoting correct body positioning and posture through training and observation/monitoring, implementing stretching programs, encouraging early reporting of signs and symptoms to proactively address issues before they become a significant injury, and providing onsite care of pre-injury conditions by qualified practitioners. Task rotation is often an underutilized administrative control that must be managed to increase variation in tasks and reduce the long duration and repetitive use of the same muscles, tendons, and ligaments.

Training is the key to ensuring employees know and understand the risk factors they are exposed to in their work area. Understanding that not all hazards can be eliminated, employees that understand key ergonomic risk factors will subconsciously protect themselves and consciously seek to find improved solutions to eliminate or reduce the exposures. Training also assists in the identification of early signs and symptoms, assisting in early intervention and preventing the injury from manifesting into a severe injury.

Benefits of Proper Ergonomics

Injury risk reduction is an obvious benefit of improved ergonomics along with various direct and indirect company fiscal benefits that occur when fewer employees are injured in the workplace. In addition to the regulatory and moral obligation of taking care of employees, when proper ergonomic controls are in place, increased work efficiency (faster production), improved quality (better products with fewer errors), improved employee morale, general wellness, reduced psychological stress, and higher employee retention are natural byproducts.

Following these recommendations may minimize and prevent WMSDs in your workplace. For more information on ergonomics in the workplace, visit OSHA’s website at https://www.osha.gov/SLTC/ergonomics/, or contact US Compliance. US Compliance provides safety, health, and environmental services to hundreds of facilities in the manufacturing and general industry sector across the United States and North America and can assist you in developing and customizing an effective Ergonomics Program.