"I don’t have a problem finishing my reports on time, but I’m always worried I’ve left something out.”
Does that sound like you?
That statement sums up one of the most common concerns we’ve heard from environmental specialists when we ask them about their compliance reports like TRI form R.
The lists of regulated chemicals for compliance reports like TRI or NPRI are constantly changing and getting refined, making it incredibly difficult for most environmental managers to be 100% sure they’ve covered all their bases.
Having nagging doubts after you’ve completed a report takes all the satisfaction out of a job well done.
It makes deadlines even more stressful.
It’s that feeling of dread that follows you around after you’ve submitted your final report to your regulators.
And forgetting to include a chemical in your report can lead to some serious noncompliance penalties if your auditors catch it before you do. Missing a single chemical could actually bump your emissions out of acceptable emission limits without you even knowing it.
If you aren’t measuring all your chemical emissions properly, you don’t really know where your facility is in terms of compliance.
No wonder so many EH&S managers are worried about missing the tiniest detail.
But no need to fear: We’ve been helping environmental specialists get rid of that nagging doubt for years using these three tips.
If you’ve ever felt less than 100% confident in your environmental compliance reporting, try implementing these techniques.
1) Build a Strong Research Foundation
You probably already dedicate hours to researching regulations, but there’s a few research habits that many EH&S managers don’t use which can have a big impact on how effective your research time is:
- Good research takes more time than you think. Start researching the regulations you’ll need for compliance reporting well ahead of time. It never works cramming the night before an exam, so why would you try and slog through lengthy and dense regulatory guides when a deadline is approaching? You’d be surprised how many managers leave the research to the last minute and end up buying the knowledge of consultants to compensate.
- Keep ahead of regulatory updates. Nothing can throw a wrench in your plans like suddenly discovering there’s been a change to a form or a regulation. It’s far better to learn about anticipated changes before they come into effect.
- Whenever the EPA or other environmental ministries plan on making a change, they publish a notification both online and in federal publications. However, the regulators won’t chase you down to make sure you know about their changes, so it’s up to you to keep track. You should scour these reports and websites constantly on the lookout for updates. Don’t forget you can also check our blog regularly because we always keep you up to date with important.
- Don’t be afraid to ask. If there’s some part of a regulation you aren’t sure about, why not just contact the EPA and get some clarification? Whoever your regulator is, they need to make every effort to answer your questions and give you all the resources you need to file a complete report. Even ERA’s research team keeps in touch with the EPA whenever the wording of a certain regulation seems open ended or when we create our free regulation guides.
2) Set Internal Deadlines to Buy You Even More Time
We work with great companies that have perfect compliance records, even with several facilities spread out across North America.
Having internal deadlines for environmental compliance reporting that come well ahead of actual regulatory deadlines.
Even though you’d think this just makes the EH&S team’s job more stressful, the payoff is that they have a window of opportunity to double check all their reports. This allows them to make sure the results are consistent, both from one facility to another and also with last year’s results.
Remember, getting reports done early means you actually have more time to accomplish reporting perfection.
3) A Master Chemical List
ERA’s solution to ensuring completeness in your environmental compliance reporting is our very own Master Chemical List.
Our team of environmental scientists spend every day researching regulations and updates, and the Master Chemical List is the embodiment of all their knowledge.
It contains every single chemical and substance regulated by the EPA and other Ministries, giving you a comphrensive list of every chemical you’ll ever need to report. It’s like an automated checklist that makes sure you always report everything you need to.
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About the Author: Alex Chamberlain is a writer and blogger who regularly contributes to ERA Environmental Management Solutions' blog. You can find Alex on Google+, LinkedIn & ERA's Environmental Compliance Blog