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Regulatory Compliance - It's the Law!

Posted on Fri, Mar 11, 2011

An organization can have numerous locations that cross county, state, and/or country borders. Despite operating within the same industry, each site may need to comply with specific applicable local, state, and/or federal regulatory mandates.

Organizations must comply with an ever increasing number of regulations. For example, one specific industrial facility in Louisiana has to meet as many as 700 individual requirements. Non-compliance can cost organizations thousands of dollars, yet documenting and managing these mandates within day to day operations can be a daunting task. 

The implementation of a tracking management system that can eliminate redundancies across converging compliance specifications is extremely beneficial for organizations that have multiple applicable regulatory requirements.

A tracking system should itemize applicable federal, state and local regulations and include categorical information that satisfies that regulation.  A tracking system should contain the following components, at a minimum:

  • Operational category: Categories can range from air quality and hazardous materials, to construction safety and general safety and health. Depending on the detail required by the regulations, further breakouts by subcategories may also be required.
  • Applicable Regulation Level:  Regulations should be further broken down to Federal, state or local regulation categories. 
  • Last update: Date that each regulation was last updated.
    Compliance Task:  Tasks that needs to be completed for compliance.
  • Compliance Feedback:  Applicable notes.
  • Industry Standard:  Industry standards or best practices that apply to the specific  regulatory requirement
  • Cross reference: Itemize list of additional regulations that may be applicable to the information provided.
  • Facility Compliance responsibility: Person(s) responsible to maintain compliance for each regulatory requirement.
  • Action Item Reporting: Provides a list of outstanding and completed action items, along with due dates and persons assigned. Reports should have filters to customize queries as required by the users. 

The results of an effective compliance tracking system is an efficient and integrated program that optimizes the efforts of all stakeholders and allows for optimum compliance.

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Tags: USCG, DOT, CFATS, Emergency Preparedness, Crisis Management, SPCC, EPA, Regulatory Compliance, Emergency Management Program

Regulatory Compliance Management

Posted on Fri, Feb 11, 2011

Managing regulations for industrial facilities can be a daunting task.  Industrial facilities must operate profitably, yet comply with a complex array of federal, state and local regulations. 

To ensure regulatory compliance, companies must establish an effective method of tracking and documenting actions items required for compliance.

Companies are always searching to reduce the costs and efforts required to manage compliance, so they can focus budgets within their core business.  However, lack of compliance can result in additional financial burdens resulting from fines, negative public perception, and possibly government mandated shutdown of operations.

Technology can be a useful, and relatively inexpensive tool for companies to monitor continually evolving regulatory requirements. The use of Excel spreadsheets is a common way to manage these requirements and may be effective for small operations. However, as companies grow and numbers of facilities increase, spreadsheets can become overwhelming, ineffective, and time consuming. Larger operations should consider utilizing database technology to ensure that compliance can be effectively managed on an enterprise-wide level.

Key concepts for managing regulatory compliance from a corporate perspective include, but are not limited to:

  • Use of Database Technology - This allows association of each regulatory requirement to applicable facilities. Updating evolving regulatory information can be effectively managed across multiple facilities with the use of a database.
  • Available Expertise - Identify corporate resources or outsource compliance expertise, and leverage that knowledge enterprise-wide.
  • Identify Facility-Specific Regulations -  Highlight mandatory submission requirements and tasks for each facility associated with each regulatory requirements.
  • Tasking -  Assign compliance tasks, frequencies, due dates, persons responsible, and document completion actions.
  • Identify Best Practices -  Apply best practices related to compliance with specific regulatory requirements, when practical to do so.
  • Organize Compliance Information - Utilize a database to limit duplication of tasks generated when multiple agencies have regulations that are related to the same subject matter.
  • Search Functionality - Create the ability to search database for key words and phrases associated with regulations.

For tips and best practices on designing a crisis management program, download Best Practices for Crisis Management.

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Tags: USCG, DOT, CFATS, Emergency Preparedness, EPA, OPA 90, Regulatory Compliance, OSHA HAZWOPER standard training

Facility Response Plan Submittal Requirements for EPA, DOT and USCG

Posted on Fri, Nov 05, 2010

One of the most important aspects of maintaining your facility response plans is ensuring that plan revisions are submitted to regulatory agencies in a timely manner. The EPA, PHSMA, and the USCG have different requirements for when revisions need to be submitted.

  • EPA :  According to 40 CFR 112.20, each time there is a material change at a facility, the response plan must be resubmitted for approval within 60 days.
  • DOT/PHMSA:  According to 49 CFR Part 194.121, each operator shall review its response plan at least every 5 years from the date of submission and modify the plan to address new or different operating conditions or information included in the plan.
  • U.S. Coast Guard (USCG): According to 33 CFR Part 154.1065, facilities must review their plan annually. Any review should include revisions to the plan, including listings of fish and wildlife and sensitive environments identified in the Area Contingency Plan in effect 6 months prior to plan review. For an MTR facility identified in § 154.1015(b) as a “substantial harm facility” this review must occur within 1 month of the annual anniversary date of submission of the plan to the COTP. The COTP may require a facility owner or operator to revise a response plan at any time as a result of a compliance inspection if the COTP determines that the response plan does not meet the requirements or as a result of inadequacies noted in the response plan during an actual pollution incident at the facility.

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Tags: USCG, DOT, Emergency Preparedness, EPA, Emergency Management Program, Deadline Approaching

DOT Advisory for Oil Spill Response Plans - due July 23, 2010

Posted on Thu, Jul 15, 2010

The Department of Transportation’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration has released an advisory bulletin to operators and hazardous onshore liquid pipeline facilities that are required to prepare and submit an oil spill response plan under 49 CFR part 194. The agency has asked operators of onshore pipelines that could reasonably be expected to cause significant or substantial harm to the environment by discharging oil into or on any navigable waters of the United States or adjoining shorelines to review spill response plans, confirm the ability to respond to a worst-case discharge from their pipeline facility, and submit updates by July 23, 2010.

 As a result of the April 20, 2010 Deepwater Horizon Gulf oil spill, spill response resources have been diverted from all over the United States to the Gulf of Mexico. While offshore drilling is not governed by 49 CFR part 194, onshore hazardous liquid pipeline operators are responsible to review, update, and maintain their oil spill response plans to ensure that each plan: properly calculates the worst case spill scenario for the pipeline facility; identifies and ensures by contract or otherwise sufficient resources to respond, to the maximum extent practicable, to such a discharge; and evaluates the identified resources' remaining capability given the ongoing relocation of resources to the Gulf. 

PHMSA will not consider it "practicable" to list resources for responding to a worst-case discharge, if such resources are, or are requested to be, relocated to respond to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. Operators must conduct this review and submit any updates to their oil spill response plans as set forth in the applicable regulations by July 23, 2010. In addition to submitting plans to PHMSA, operators must maintain their response plans on-site for inspection by PHMSA during field audits.  PHMSA intends to evaluate operators' efforts during upcoming field audits.

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Tags: PHMSA, Pipeline, DOT, Oil Spill