Your Solution for SMART Response Plans

How Leading Companies Address Complex Response Planning

Posted on Thu, May 04, 2017

Whether plans are mandated by corporate policy or regulatory agencies, an effectively exercised and accessible emergency response plan can minimize impacts of an emergency on employees, the environment, and infrastructure. But when companies have multiple locations, each with site-specific risks and potential operational emergencies, how can corporate leaders know that response plans will be accessible, effective, timely and compliant?

Leading companies with multiple facilities are realizing that generic response planning templates often result in incomplete, ineffective, and non-regulatory compliant plans. As a result, web-based, database-driven software is gaining popularity as the practical solution for companies with complex preparedness obstacles. Advanced web-based software has been proven to streamline the challenges associated with multiple locations and regulatory requirements through a cohesive, yet site-specific standardization of best practices.

In order to maintain company-wide preparedness and regulatory compliance, every response plan must contain accurate, site-specific details consistent with operations, personnel, topography, sensitivities, weather, and other factors. This complex arrangement of continually evolving information has led leading companies to leverage this technology and reap the benefits of web-based, enterprise-wide emergency management systems.

 

Emergency Management Systems

Leading companies are embracing comprehensive, web-based response plan templates with an integrated database that can capture site-specific details for each location. With these systems, emergency managers can:

  • Reduce the need for multiple plans for a single facility
  • Minimize administrative costs
  • Simplify plan reviews
  • Minimize discrepancies across various plans
  • Streamline response directives from one source
  • More easily identify regulatory compliance gaps

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Web-Based System Benefits

Maintaining accurate details across multiple plan types for a large number of facilities is a challenge, especially when there is limited personnel. Intuitive response planning systems that streamline formats, and utilize database technology to leverage and manage information offer tremendous benefits in improving compliance and preparedness. The most advanced systems are specifically designed to improve the following:

Efficiency:  Effective response plans require cyclical maintenance. As a result of changing personnel, fluctuating external response contacts, and revolving equipment availability and inventory levels, maintaining up-to-date and actionable response plans can be administratively time-consuming. Emergency management software should eliminate the need for duplicate updates across multiple response plans. The most advanced web-based software programs utilize a database, allowing for specific repetitive information to be duplicated in the various necessary plan types across an entire enterprise. By minimizing administratively tasking duties, plan changes are more likely to be transferred into the system, optimizing the accuracy of the plans.

Accessibility of plans: In the event of an emergency, updated paper plans are typically not available from all company locations. Additionally, accessing plans housed on a company intranet may be dubious if an incident renders company servers inaccessible.  Although the intranet approach has improved overall plan accessibility, a number of significant difficulties remain. With an intranet approach, plan maintenance, version control, and consistency across multiple plans remain challenging and time-consuming.

Web-based planning software offers every option of instant accessibility: viewed via the Internet from any location, downloaded, or printed. Increasing accessibility options while improving efficiency, functionality, and effectiveness can bolster an entire emergency management program.

Instantaneous updates: With web-based technology and an Internet connection, revised information is immediately available to all approved stakeholders. Both paper-based plans and those housed on a company intranet are often out of date with multiple versions in various locations, potentially misinforming the response team.  Microsoft Word or PDF documents, often the format used in response plans, are cumbersome to revise for various plan types and locations. Web-based systems can eliminate ”version-confusion” and allows responders to apply the most up-to-date and tested processes to a response.

Superior functionality: Web-based plans can provide hyperlinks, forms libraries, simplified interfaces, and other tools designed to improve functionality for plan users. Simplifying documentation during an incident enables prompt response progress, improved regulatory compliance, and a more accurate account of the response. Easy to follow response plans allow responders to carry out specified industry and company procedures in accordance with proven best practices responses.

Multi-purpose data: Typically, response plans share common data with a variety of additional plan types including business continuity, pre-fire plans, hurricane plans, and others. Web-based, database driven plans utilize one database to manage this information, effectively leveraging plan content and revision efforts to all plans and locations that utilize that data.

If best practices are implemented, and training and exercises confirm effective response processes and procedures are in place, response plans can be an effective tool for responders. However, leading companies utilizing web-based, database software are recognizing that swift accessibility to plans with an accurate list of contacts, site-specific response procedures, and available resources, expedite the response process and minimizing impacts across the board.

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Tags: Response Plans, Cloud Computing, Regulatory Compliance

Will Regulatory Non-Compliance Cost you in 2017?

Posted on Thu, Jan 26, 2017

Corporate emergency preparedness and company-wide response planning is rarely quantified because of various uncertainties and a “not us” mind-set. Yet, when companies are not prepared for incidents, non-compliance fines can be assessed and employees, operations and profitability can be affected.

Federal Agencies, including OSHA, EPA, and PHMSA, as well as many state agencies continue to inspect and fine companies for non-compliance for a variety of infractions in hopes of creating a safer workplace and minimizing environmental impacts. Every year OSHA reveals its “Top 10 OSHA Citations”, a list compiled from nearly 32,000 workplace inspections.

“One remarkable thing about the list is that it rarely changes,” says the Department of Labor staff. Year after year, OSHA inspectors see thousands of the same job hazards, any one of which could result in a fatality or severe injury.

As in years’ past, OSHA published released its “Top 10”.  The Top Ten most frequently cited OSHA standards include:

  1. 501 - Fall Protection
  2. 1200 - Hazard Communication
  3. 451 - Scaffolding
  4. 134 - Respiratory Protection
  5. 147 - Lockout/Tagout
  6. 178 - Powered Industrial Trucks
  7. 1053 - Ladders
  8. 212 - Machine Guarding
  9. 305 - Electrical, Wiring Methods
  10. 303 - Electrical, General Requirements

As we move further into 2017, companies should utilize this list as a stepping stone to conduct assessments, identify potential site-specific compliance lapses, and mitigate highly recognized hazards. When companies can deliberately protect lives, prevent environmental hazardous, limit property damage and eliminate regulatory fines, they are investing in the sustainability of their company.

Since agencies redefined their monetary penalties in 2016, companies must not rely on the prospect of a regulatory agency inspection to ensure preparedness programs are sufficient. Prioritizing safety, preparedness and response planning can often mitigate these highly- recognized hazards. Below are just a few of the citation results from 2016 agency audits:

January 2016

  • OSHA: A manufacturer of swimming pool chemicals and acetone products was assessed fines totaling $61,600 for lacking a process safety management program.

February 2016

  • EPA: Salt Lake County, Utah failed to develop and implement a stormwater pollution prevention and management program that minimized the discharge of pollutants to the maximum extent. The County was responsible for a $140,000 fine.

March 2016

  • OSHA: A popular Washington DC hotel was fined $76,000 for exposing employees to more than two dozen workplace safety and health hazards.

April 2016

  • EPA: A Company that provided corrosion protection for steel products was fined $14,436 for illegally discharging liquid waste into nearby artificial wetlands.

May 2016

  • OSHA: A Frozen food company received multiple serious and willful violations totaling $168,000. Violations included, but were not limited to:
    • Newly hired employees were not trained in the company’s Emergency Action Plan
    • Lack of pre-emergency planning coordination with external responders during an ammonia release
    • Inadequate hazardous material response training

Greenhouse_Gases.jpgJune 2016

  • EPA: A national chain specialty grocery store was assessed a $500,000 civil penalty related to greenhouse gases emissions from refrigeration equipment at 453 of its stores.

July 2016

  • OSHA: A Houston contractor was found violating serious trench hazards for the sixth time in 10 years. The contracted was fined $124,000.

August 2016

  • EPA: A California power company agreed to pay $47,000 to settle EPA claims. The EPA stated that the company violated federal regulations in its spill management

September 2016

  • EPA: A petroleum company was assessed a non-compliance fine of $345,000 regarding the Clean Water Act’s stormwater discharge requirements associated with industrial activities. Non-compliant activities included failing to:
    • Implement best management practices
    • Implement a Stormwater Pollution Prevention Plan
    • Monitor and report discharge data of the facility’s discharges of pollutants
    • Obtain the appropriate stormwater discharge permit associated with industrial activity.

October 2016

  • PHMSA: A gas transmission company was assessed $550,400 for safety violations that occurred during an accidental release, including:
    • Failing to notify the National Response Center following the release
    • Failure to document proper DOT accident report
    • Failure to correct hazardous condition
    • Failure to follow operational and maintenance procedures

November 2016

  • OSHA: A Louisiana contractor was issued more than $150,000 in fines to a Louisiana contractor for confined space violations after fumes sicken two workers. OSHA issued citations for six serious violations and one willful violation.

December 2016

  • PHMSA fined a natural gas company $110,700 due to violations of pipeline safety regulations for:
    • Failure to provide cathodic protection
    • Failure to test pipelines under cathodic protection
    • Failure to test relief capacity
    • Failure to develop and cover certain tasks associated with Operator Qualification Program

 

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Tags: Regulatory Compliance

NEW Hazardous Waste Generator Regulations: Effective May 30, 2017

Posted on Thu, Jan 12, 2017

On November 28, 2016, the EPA published its final ruling that revised Resource Conservation and Recovery Act's (RCRA) hazardous waste generator regulatory program. According to the EPA, “the new ruling is intended to provide greater flexibility in how hazardous waste is managed to better fit today's business operations, enhance the safety of facilities that create hazardous waste and improve the response capabilities of emergency responders by improving risk communication.” The final rule goes into effect on May 30, 2017.

Highlights of New RCRA Rule 

  1. Reorganized hazardous waste generator regulations to make them more user-friendly, and thus improve their usability by the regulated community.
  2. Provide a better understanding of how the RCRA hazardous waste generator regulatory program works.
  3. Address gaps in the existing regulations to strengthen environmental protection.
  4. Provide greater flexibility for hazardous waste generators to manage their hazardous waste in a cost-effective and protective manner.
  5. Make technical corrections and conforming changes to address inadvertent errors and remove obsolete references to programs that no longer exist.

This final rule includes over 60 changes to the hazardous waste generator regulations that clarify existing requirements, increase flexibility, and improve environmental protection. These changes also reorganize the regulations to make them easier to follow and make certain technical corrections. The new ruling is aimed at the following:

User-Friendly and Flexibility

  • Allowing a hazardous waste generator to avoid increased burden of a higher generator status when generating episodic waste provided the episodic waste is properly managed.
  • Allowing a very small quantity generator (VSQG) to send its hazardous waste to a large quantity generator under control of the same person.

Improved Environmental Protection

  • Updating the emergency response and contingency planning provisions for small quantity generators (SQGs) and large quantity generators (LQGs) to include Local Emergency Planning Committees (LEPC).
  • Requiring periodic re-notification for SQGs every four years (SQGs only notify once under the current system).
  • Improved labeling and marking that clearly indicate the hazards of the hazardous waste contained inside of containers and tanks.

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Improve Generator Compliance

  • Clarification on generator categories and applicable guidelines regarding acute and non-acute hazardous waste.
  • Revises RCRA biennial reporting inconsistencies.
  • Replaces the phrase “conditionally exempt small quantity generator” with the phrase “very small quantity generator” to be consistent with the LQGs and SQGs generator categories.

Reorganization Regulations and Technical Corrections

  • VSQG regulations are moved to 40 CFR part 262, where the regulations for SQGs and LQGs are located.
  • Consolidates various generator regulations from other parts of the hazardous waste standards into 40 CFR part 262 to replace the current lists of cross references.
  • Corrects inadvertent errors in the regulations, obsolete programs, and unclear citations.

For a complete synopsis of the new Hazardous Waste Generator Improvements Rule, read the entire rule in the Federal Register.

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Tags: Regulatory Compliance

Response Plan Compliance Tracking and Submission

Posted on Thu, Dec 15, 2016

Regulatory Compliance is Not Optional

Month after month, companies are reminded through assessed fines and mandated enforcements that regulatory compliance is not optional. In August 2016, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) settled with an oil and gas equipment company for hazardous waste violations at five Texas facilities. The company was assessed a penalty of $237,980 for violations regarding improperly generating, transporting and disposing of hazardous waste.

These types of cases are not restricted to one industry. If regulations apply to operations, non-compliance fines can be assessed. The most widely applicable regulations to industrial companies are those under the realm of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).

 

Typical Industrial Requirements

Below are a sample of the EPA requirements that may be applicable to industrial operations:

  • National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) - Permitting program designed to control water pollution by regulating point sources that discharge pollutants into waters of the United States. Industrial, municipal, and other facilities must obtain permits if their discharges go directly to surface waters.
  • Facility Response Plan (FRP) - Requires an owner or operator of a facility that could reasonably be expected to cause substantial harm to the environment by discharging oil into or on the navigable waters or adjoining shorelines to prepare and submit a facility response plan.
  • Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) - The primary governing law that oversees the generation and containment of solid and hazardous waste.
  • Spill Prevention Control and Countermeasure Plans (SPCC) – Requires developing site specific plans for oil storage facilities that describe spill prevention and response procedures.
  • Emergency Planning and Community Right to Know (EPCRA) - Establishes requirements for federal, state and local governments, Indian tribes, and industry regarding emergency planning and "Community Right-to-Know" reporting on hazardous and toxic chemicals to enable a more effective emergency response planning process.

 

Response Plan Submissions

A simplified regulatory submission process is highly beneficial when companies have multiple facilities in various locations. Despite similar operations within the same industry, each site may need to comply with specific local, state, and/or federal regulatory mandates. Companies should have a systematic method to itemize these varied regulations and include categorical information that satisfies that regulation. Implementing a web-based planning system with a regulatory tracking element can eliminate redundancies across converging compliance requirements and minimize dedicated administrative time.

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Compliance Tracking System

Using database technology allows association of each regulatory requirement to applicable facilities. Additionally, updating evolving regulatory information can be effectively managed across multiple facilities with the use of a database. At a minimum, a web-based tracking system should contain the following components:

  • 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 subcategories may be utilized.
  • Applicable Regulation Level: Regulations should be further broken down to federal, state or local regulation categories. 
  • Update History: 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: Itemized 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 ability to track company-wide compliance and streamline the regulatory submission process is administratively advantageous for the individual company, as well as the multiple regulatory agencies. With required response plans in an easy to use electronic format, companies can ensure compliance and easily adhere to new, and future regulatory submission policies.

To receive your free white paper on Response Planning for Large Organizatiojns, click the image below:

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Tags: Response Plans, Regulatory Compliance

Fines, Compliance Tracking, and the PIPES Act of 2016

Posted on Thu, Aug 18, 2016

The Cost of Non-Compliance

Every month, audits and enforcement mandates are issued from various federal and state agencies that oversee industrial facilities. According to the Pipeline and Hazardous Material Safety Administration’s (PHMSA) summary of cases involving civil penalties, the first half of 2016 has resulted in 16 open cases with a proposed $3,070,200 in civil penalty fines. These cases were accompanied by a proposed compliance order (identifying actions the operator is required to take) and/or proposed civil penalties for these alleged violations.

As evident from the revolving door of compliance orders and penalty assessments, companies often take a non-compliance reactionary role rather than implementing proactive compliance measures. Preemptive compliance efforts and regulatory compliance tracking software programs are beneficial and often less expensive than agency fines.

According to the Ponemon Institute’s “True Cost of Compliance” 2011 report1, non-compliance is expensive. According to the study, the cost of compliance for 46 organizations averaged $3.5 million or $222 per employee. The extrapolated average cost of non-compliance for 46 organizations was significantly higher: nearly $9.4 million and $820 per employee.

Regulatory Compliance Tracking System

Adopting a regulatory compliance tracking system can streamline the process of compliance without increasing your employees’ workload. Regulatory compliance tracking software should:

  • Enhance company-wide regulatory compliance
  • Establish an effective means of corporate oversight
  • Provide systemic consistency for compliance tasks
  • Simplify documentation of compliance action items
  • Reduced the likelihood of non-compliance and associated penalties

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New Pipeline Regulations on the Horizon

Companies with pipeline operations often face multiple compliance mandates that require frequent monitoring and audits. As a result, compliance can be a significant cost. Recently, the “Protecting our Infrastructure of Pipelines and Enhancing Safety” (PIPES) Act of 2016 was signed into law. The act reauthorizes the PHMSA and related Department of Transportation programs through 2019 and enables the continuation of emergency response grants, one-call notification programs, state damage prevention programs, community pipeline safety information grants, and the pipeline integrity program. The PIPES Act of 2016 also reauthorizes the PHMSA to complete the remaining 15 Congressional mandates proposed with the Pipeline Safety, Regulatory Certainty, and Job Creation Act of 20112. PHSMA has established a progress chart detailing the status of the initial 42 mandates.

Companies with applicable pipeline operations should be aware and monitor the following outstanding mandates in order to verify or align compliance initiatives (Note: For a full list, please refer to the PHMSA chart):

Automatic and Remote-Controlled Shut-Off Valves: Requires the use of automatic or remote-controlled shut-off valves on gas and liquid transmission pipelines constructed or entirely replaced after the date of the approved rule. The “Pipeline Safety: Amendments to Parts 192 and 195 to require Valve installation and Minimum Rupture Detection Standards” is projected to publish September 2016. The intent is to improve overall incident response.

Integrity Management Program Expansion and Class Location Replacement: PHMSA may extend a gas pipeline operator's 7-year reassessment interval by 6 months if the operator submits written notice with sufficient justification of the need for an extension. PHMSA should publish guidance on what constitutes sufficient justification. The "Pipeline Safety: Safety of Hazardous Liquid Pipelines" will be published October 2016 and the Pipeline Safety: Safety of Gas Transmission Pipelines proposed rule is still under evaluation.

Leak Detection: Final rules relating to leak detection on hazardous liquid pipelines and establishing leak detection standards set projected to be published October 2016.

Accident and Incident Notification: Reporting time should not be more than one hour after confirmed discovery. Notification requiring revision or confirmation of initial notification should be within 48 hours. Final rule projected to publish October 2016

Cost Recovery for Design Reviews: Setting up a cost recovery fee structure for design review of new gas and hazardous liquid pipelines with either overall design and construction costs totaling at least $2,500,000,000 or that contain new and novel technologies.  Final rule, "Operator Qualification, Cost Recovery and Accident Notification", is projected to publish October 2016.

Excess Flow Valves: Issue regulations requiring the use of excess flow valves on new or entirely replaced distribution branch services, multi-family facilities, and small commercial facilities, if appropriate.

Maximum Allowable Operating Pressure (MAOP) Verification: Require tests to confirm the material strength of previously untested gas transmission pipelines in HCAs. Require operators to report any exceedance of MAOP within 5 days, and regulations to ensure safety of pipelines without records to confirm MAOP. The proposed rule "Pipeline Safety: Safety of Gas Transmission Pipelines" is currently under review.

References:
2).http://www.phmsa.dot.gov/pipeline/psa/overview-and-progress

 

Regulatory Compliance with TRP Corp

Tags: Regulatory Compliance, fines

10 Questions Executives Should Ask about Response Plans and Compliance

Posted on Thu, Jul 07, 2016

Corporate leadership teams must prioritize compliance with environmental, health, and safety regulations by financially supporting, authorizing, and directing management to initiate and sustain best practice emergency management measures. The intent of these regulations is to protect employees, communities, and the surrounding environments and reduce impacts in the event of an incident. Through consistent and dedicated support, executives can create a culture that prioritizes regulatory compliance, proactively prepares for threats, risks, and potential disaster, and has the ability to effectively respond if an incident were to occur.

Prioritizing compliance, preparedness, and response not only facilitates a unified culture of safety, but heightens a company’s ability to fulfill their moral responsibility to protect employees, the community, and the environment. Establishing an effective preparedness and response program enhances a company’s ability to:

  • Recover from financial losses
  • Limit or eliminate regulatory fines
  • Limit damages to equipment or products
  • Reduce the potential or duration of business interruption which could impact market share
  • Reduce exposure to civil or criminal liability and lawsuits in the event of an incident.
  • Enhance its image and credibility
  • Reduce insurance premiums

Executives must maintain profitable operations, yet ensure compliance with a complex array of federal, state, and local regulations. The consequences of being out of compliance can be damaging to the company, personnel, community, and professional reputations.

A compliant preparedness and response program includes multiple safety processes and procedures, as well as training, drills, equipment testing, and interoperability coordination. From a budgetary standpoint, emergencies, disasters, and incidents are expensive. Fortunately, compliance and mitigation costs are typically much lower than the expenditures associated with non-compliance fines, litigation, reputational risk, and government mandated shutdown of operations. 

True_cost_of_incidents.jpgTo ensure effective and compliant preparedness and response planning programs are in place, executives should propose the following questions to company managers:

  1. What activity presents the highest risk to our people and facilities, and how can these risks be minimized?
  2. Are there any newly identified threats and risks that require additional resources for mitigation?
  3. Are the individuals accountable for safety, preparedness, and response planning compliance receiving adequate training?
  4. What additional support is needed to improve safety, preparedness, and response planning compliance?
  5. Are company and contractor safety, preparedness, and response planning training programs being verified, and are the outcomes documented efficiently?
  6. When was the last time response plans had been verified and updated?
  7. Is employee input and/or feedback being utilized to improve safety, preparedness, and response planning processes? Do we have any recent examples?
  8. What were the top three high priority results of the last exercise?
  9. What lessons learned can be utilized for improvement to our process and procedures?
  10. Can our compliance verification continue to be handled internally, or do we need to seek external expertise to validate compliance?

Improving preparedness and response capabilities requires coordination across all levels of an organization. Collaborative pre-planning and exercising interoperable responses can minimize regulatory surprises and result in a more effective and timely response. When applicable, executives should encourage collaborative planning and exercises to validate response team positions, align priorities and common interests, and motivate participants to seek compromise for the good of an effective response.

Internal resources or outsourced compliance expertise can often enable a company to leverage regulatory knowledge across the entire company. In order to reduce managerial and administrative efforts required to manage compliance, companies often utilize external experts or consultants to ensure appropriate response planning and compliance measures.

Regulatory Compliance with TRP Corp

Tags: Emergency Management, Regulatory Compliance

Database Technology Implementation Eases Response Planning Compliance

Posted on Thu, Jun 30, 2016

According to the U.S. Government Accountability Office, antiquated technology utilized by various government departments is costing nearly $60 billion a year to maintain. In order for companies to remain competitive and sustain viable operations over the long-term, response planning technologies and compliance verification processes must be periodically evaluated and upgraded.

Preparedness, emergency management, and regulatory compliance is a dynamic endeavor. The increasing number of stringent regulatory requirements compounds the complexity of industrial operations. Many companies may believe they have the compliance component of their business under control. Others take a reactionary role rather than a proactive approach. Without a targeted response planning and preparedness approach, fines and devastating incidents can negatively impact company profitability.

As with rapidly advancing technology, company-wide preparedness efforts and emergency management priorities are inherently dynamic, creating a challenging atmosphere for complying with an array of regulations. Costly fines continually result from the lack of an implemented, thorough, or effective response planning and regulatory compliance programs. Advanced response planning systems that utilize database technologies can provide customization, providing the ability for companies to adapt their preparedness and emergency management to specific conditions and regulations. This cost-saving technology, at a minimum, enables companies to:

  1. Document critical data necessary for site-specific responses
  2. Easily incorporate new locations during growth
  3. Validate continually evolving regulatory requirements

Response planning systems with database technologies can include regulatory tracking benefits, easing the duties associated with maintaining compliance. Unlike spreadsheets or word processing programs, these advanced systems can easily leverage duplicate regulatory data across an enterprise. The ability to eliminate the need for administrative redundancies across converging compliance requirements is financially beneficial for organizations that have multiple applicable regulatory requirements. Utilizing a database limits the duplication of tasks generated when multiple agencies have regulations that are related to the same subject matter.

Modernizing compliance tracking efforts can improve overall preparedness levels. When operations and facilities expand beyond a few locations, a methodological tracking system can be utilized to itemize federal, state, and local regulations, and include categorical information that satisfies that regulation. A tracking system should, at a minimum contain the following components:

  • Operational categories: 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.
  • Time/Date Stamping: The time and date that each regulation was last updated.
  • Compliance Feedback: Applicable notes regarding compliance or non-compliance.
  • Industry Standard: Apply best practices related to compliance with specific regulatory requirements, when practical to do so.
  • Cross-reference: Itemize list of additional regulations that may be applicable to the information provided.
  • Facility Compliance responsibility: Identify person responsible for compliance for each regulatory requirement.
  • Action Item Reporting: Provides a list of outstanding and completed action items, along with due dates and person(s) assigned. Reports should have filters to customize queries as required by the users.
  • Search Functionality: Create the ability to search database for keywords and phrases associated with regulations.

Adaptability is a crucial emergency management attribute. Companies should take the same approach when it comes to the tools utilized for their emergency management program. As new and innovative tools are developed, companies must not be left with antiquated, costly solutions to company-wide preparedness and regulatory compliance.

Regulatory Compliance with TRP Corp

Tags: Regulatory Compliance

Regulatory Compliance Fines are Increasing: Is Your Company Ready?

Posted on Thu, Jun 23, 2016

Since the 1990 Inflation Adjustment Act exemption, the set monetary penalties for violating OSHA’s health and safety standards have remained fixed. However, on November 2, 2015, Congress passed the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015 which requires federal agencies, including OSHA, to adjust their civil money penalties based on inflation. Any penalty proposed or assessed after August 1, 2016, will reflect the increased fine.

According to a February 24, 2016 memorandum, executive departments and agencies are to adjust “the maximum civil monetary penalty or the range of minimum and maximum civil monetary penalties, as applicable, for each civil monetary penalty by the cost-of-living adjustment.” Per inflation, experts estimate that fines may rise as much as 80% compared to previous years’ rates. This estimation would result in the maximum penalty for a willful violation to be approximately $126,000, a significant increase from the current $70,000.

Agencies are required to publish initial penalty adjustment amounts by July 1, 2016, which must take effect no later than August 1, 2016. This timeline condenses the reactive mitigation period and minimizes the time for companies to confirm compliance across an enterprise. Encouraging regulatory compliance prioritization even further, agencies will be required to make annual inflationary adjustments based on the Office of Management and Budget guidance starting January 15, 2017. Companies must be proactive and confirm regulatory compliance or be ready to pay increased fines.

When company operations span across multiple locations, compliance verification can become increasingly complicated. In 2015, OSHA penalized Anheuser-Busch with safety violations at its New Jersey warehouse, resulted in a $150,000 fine. If the penalty was assessed after the upcoming August 1, 2016 adjustment, the company could have been fined nearly $270,000.

The cost to initiate, upgrade, and/or maintain a proactive EHS program may be seen as a superfluous expenditure. However, compliance efforts and compliance tracking software programs are often less expensive than agency fines. When companies can deliberately protect lives, prevent hazardous impacts, limit property damage, and eliminate increasing regulatory fines, EHS program prioritization becomes an investment in the long-term sustainability of a company.

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Site applicable regulations must be identified in order for processes, procedures, or response planning noncompliance to be discovered. Regulatory recognition can occur through routine inspections, job hazard analyses, and audits. Audits, whether done by in-house professionals or specialized contractors, can often reveal the same inadequacies and mitigation opportunities as identified by regulatory inspections, without the potential reputational and financial consequences of non-compliance. With an objective eye, an audit can bolster an overall emergency management program and minimize the potential for incidents or regulatory fines.

One of the most important aspects of maintaining compliant response plans is to update them in a timely manner. Cyclical response planning checks enable continuous reviews and potential revision opportunities, creating an optimal opportunity for regulatory compliance confirmation. Cyclical response plan reviews should include:

  • Safety and health procedures
  • Evacuation plan
  • Fire protection plan
  • Environmental policies
  • Security procedures
  • Response procedures
  • Communication Plans
  • Employee manuals
  • Business Continuity plan
  • Risk management plan
  • Hurricane/Tornado/Flood Plans
  • Mutual aid agreements

As agencies are redefining their monetary penalties, companies must not rely on the prospect of an inspection to ensure preparedness programs are sufficient. Regulatory deficiencies are most likely shared with others within the same industry, therefore, companies may identify potential solutions by researching applicable best practices. Often, the expertise and knowledge that drove the regulation into existence stems from the problems and experiences of others, and their efforts to address the inherent problem(s).

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Tags: Regulatory Compliance

U.S. Coast Guard Updates OSRO Classification Guidelines for 2016

Posted on Thu, Jun 16, 2016

For certain industrial facilities and vessels that store oil, contracts must be established with Oil Spill Removal Organizations (OSROs) in order to provide the personnel and equipment necessary to respond to an oil spill. On March 31, 2016, The US Coast Guard’s National Strike Force Coordination Center released the new 2016 Oil Spill Removal Organization (OSRO) Guidelines. 

“This revision to the U.S. Coast Guard’s Oil Spill Removal Organization (OSRO) Classification Guidelines places the Coast Guard, the oil-related industry, and the public on the best possible footing for response to discharges and substantial threats.” - U.S. Coast Guard

According to the press release, a concerted and collaborative effort among the Office of Marine Environmental Response Policy (CG-MER), the National Strike Force Coordination Center (NSFCC), and private/public sector subject matter experts updated the guidelines to address current risks posed by heavy and Group V oils. Most notably, this update includes a classification scheme for non-floating oils that possess the potential to sink once discharged into the environment.

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If a company does not own the necessary quantities of specialized response equipment, or requires additional equipment and personnel to control a worst case discharge spill scenario, U.S. Coast Guard certified OSROs can provide equipment and additional personnel.

 

Updates to OSRO Guidelines

In an effort to solidify the Coast Guard’s marine environmental response mission and unified approach to oil spill preparedness and response, updates within the OSRO Guidelines include:

  • New annual review requirements for the OSRO Guidelines to be conducted by the NSFCC and CG-MER. This review will take place at the beginning of each calendar year.
  • Revised and edited portions of each classification program to either clarify previous language, add context, or remove redundant language.
  • Created a new classification in the OSRO Guidelines: Non Floating Oils classification. The Non Floating Oil classification meets the regulatory requirements of Group V oils in accordance with the criteria set forth by 33 CFR § 154.1047 and 33 CFR § 155.1052 and the inherent risk of other heavy oil types that may submerge or sink.
  • Created the Non Floating Oil application and procedures to meticulously and qualitatively assess Non Floating Oil classifications. The application contains pertinent information for owners and operators to appropriately determine what Non Floating Oil classified OSROs would be best suited for their operations.
  • Effective on November 30, 2016, all previous Group V OSRO ‘listings’ will be removed from the Response Resource Inventory. Furthermore, all Facility and Vessel response plan holders who may handle, store, or transport Group V oils shall only list Non Floating Oil classified OSROs or provide the required information in accordance with the regulatory Group V Response Plan Development and Evaluation Criteria. OSROs desiring to apply for the Non Floating Oil classification can do so now and refer to Chapter 6 in the Guidelines.

The OSRO classification process was developed by the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) to provide guidelines to evaluate an OSRO’s potential to respond to oil spills. Although participation in the OSRO classification is voluntary, real-world incidents have shown that this program directly contributes to aggressive, rapid and well-coordinated responses. While an OSRO classification does not guarantee performance, nor does the use of a Coast Guard-classified OSRO relieve plan holders of their responsibility to ensure the adequacy of response resources, the success of this program has been proven as a best practice.

Regulatory Compliance with TRP Corp

Tags: USCG, Regulatory Compliance

Utilizing Technology to Improve Regulatory Compliance and Preparedness

Posted on Thu, May 12, 2016

Workforce Reductions and Petroleum Inventories

Industry volatility associated with plunging commodity pricing is pressing many energy companies to operate at minimal staffing levels, challenging them to “do more with less” while sustaining current enterprise-wide preparedness capabilities and regulatory compliance.

Workforce reductions in the energy sector have resulted in a loss of nearly 118,000 jobs in the U.S. since the beginning of 20151, and more than 320,000 positions globally since the downturn began2. Even with reduced staffing, safety expectations, environmental protection standards, and regulatory compliance requirements remain constant - providing justification for utilizing tools that increase efficiencies and further reduce labor costs.

In conjunction with enormous staff reductions, petroleum inventories have increased to record levels. As of April 29, 2016, the U.S. Energy Information Agency listed the inventory of crude oil and petroleum stocks at 2,065,928 (thousand barrels), the highest amount in history3. Although facilities and response plans are designed for a worst case discharge, there is now less margin for error for a large spill, given that many facilities are operating at higher capacities.

Complex Compliance Requirements

Oil storage operations are heavily regulated. Overlapping response plan requirements from multiple agencies are applicable to many facilities. Federal agencies that may require response plans include EPA, U.S. Coast Guard, PHMSA, and OSHA. As many as three different federal agencies regulate OPA 90 for some facilities, and certain states add more requirements. In addition to the complexities of developing and maintaining Facility Response Plans, many facilities are subject to planning requirements for Spill Prevention, Control, and Countermeasures, Dock Operations, Security, Risk Management, Process Safety Management, Emergency Response, and Fire Pre-Plans. Many of these regulations require similar site-specific details, further exemplifying the need for tools that are specifically designed to leverage and manage this content.

In order to maintain company-wide compliance and preparedness, every response plan must contain accurate site-specific details consistent with operations, personnel, topography, sensitivities, weather, and other factors. Maintaining this level of detail across multiple plan types for a large number of facilities is a challenge, especially when less personnel are available. TransMontaigne Partners and DCP Midstream, among others, have embraced cloud-based, database-driven systems specifically designed to improve flexibility, accessibility, efficiency, and consistency of their response plans. Intuitive response planning systems that streamline formats, and utilize database technology to leverage and manage information offer tremendous benefits in improving compliance and preparedness.

SMARTPLAN™ Response Planning Tools

For companies with multiple facilities and locations, cloud-based planning systems, such as Technical Response Planning’s (TRP) SMARTPLAN™ Software, provide a platform for site-specific response plans that integrate seamlessly with company-wide operations, procedures, and policies. DCP Midstream, which has been utilizing TRP’s technology for their Emergency Response Plans since 2001, operates 63 gas processing plants and over 64,000 miles of pipelines across 17 states. “With a footprint that large, we need to leverage technology to improve efficiencies,” says Brian McGuire, Director of Health, Safety and Security for DCP Midstream. TRP’s system enabled DCP Midstream to optimize plan maintenance processes, plan formats, and regulatory compliance at every location.

Plan_requirements_for_Bulk_Storage_Terminals.png

In 2013, TRP demonstrated their new SMARTPLAN™ Software to DCP. “I quickly recognized the power of the new platform and improvements that would enable us to easily manage all of our plan types, including SPCC Plans, Business Continuity Plans, and Risk Management Plans, in addition to the Emergency Response and Crisis Management Plans that TRP had been managing since 2001,” says McGuire. “When integration of our current plans into the SMARTPLAN™ platform was completed in 2014, it was an easy decision to also add our NGL Pipeline County Emergency Response Plans and our more than 700 SPCC Plans. TRP’s quick turnaround in transitioning these additional plans exceeded our expectations.”

TransMontaigne Partners, which operates more than 50 refined product bulk storage terminals and pipeline systems, also saw the enterprise-wide benefits of the new system. “TRP recently upgraded our account to their new SMARTPLAN™ platform, which provides even more functionality, flexibility, and tools to help us manage regulatory requirements and plan maintenance for our large operation,” says Dudley Tarlton, Vice President of Environmental, Safety and Occupational Health with TransMontaigne Partners. “Their software allows TransMontaigne Partners to manage our plans much more effectively and with less manpower than could be done with traditional methods.” 

TRP’s SMARTPLAN™ software system and unique approach has been widely adopted by companies like DCP Midstream and TransMontaigne Partners. SMARTPLAN™ accomplishes these improvements in efficiency by providing the following:

Instant Accessibility: Ensures each approved stakeholder has access to the latest version of every response plan. Accessibility options include being able to access live from the Internet, download a static electronic version, or print paper copies. The electronic format also provides the ability for plans to be shared for regulator or auditor review. In addition, hyperlinks, reference libraries, simplified interfaces, and reporting tools improve functionality and further leverage available data for plan users.

Plan Management Tools: Database allows for information to be mapped to multiple locations in all plan types, across an entire company. By reducing time requirements, plan updates are more likely to be performed, thereby improving accuracy and compliance.

Instantaneous Revisions: Plan updates are immediately available to all stakeholders. This eliminates “version confusion” for plan users, which improves response plan accuracy. This functionality also provides the ability to quickly and cost effectively apply lessons learned, regulatory changes, and company reorganization issues across all response plans.

Plan Consistency: Promotes the use of a consistent plan format across entire companies, yet it is still customized to account for company-specific processes and philosophies. This allows for improved familiarization with response plans for all company personnel.

Plan Types: Provides all types of response plans, including Facility Response Plans, Emergency Response Plans, SPCC Plans, Fire Pre-Plans, Business Continuity Plans, and others.

“TRP’s system has always done an amazing job of standardizing our many plans, and helping us manage all of our plan contacts,” says McGuire. “In addition, the new dike volume calculation tools in SMARTPLAN™ have greatly improved the accuracy and documentation of our SPCC plans and have significantly reduced time required to perform manual calculations.”

  1. http://www.houstonchronicle.com/business/energy/article/Fed-U-S-oil-job-cuts-reach-about-118-000-7237605.php
  2. http://fuelfix.com/blog/2016/04/07/chevron-cutting-655-houston-jobs-amid-oil-bust/#31744101=0
  3. https://www.eia.gov/dnav/pet/PET_STOC_WSTK_DCU_NUS_W.htm

TRP Corp - Emergency Response Planning Crisis Management

Tags: Emergency Preparedness, Regulatory Compliance, corporate preparedness