Federal requirements for reporting chemical Extremely Hazardous Substances (EHS) to the state, local fire dept., and the local emergency management agency are found in section 312 of the 1986 Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act. Chemicals on site in quantities greater than 10,000 pounds during the calendar year must also be reported. Quantities, locations, and chemical and health and exposure properties of each chemical must be reported. Most states require online submissions. Fortunately, many states use the same reporting system, but others have their own specific systems. The information required is the same in almost all cases. This rule requires a facility to track chemical purchases in a way that they can identify the time when they had the largest quantity on site during the calendar year. An average amount on site for the calendar year is also required.
Facilities that process or manufacture 25,000 pounds of a chemical, otherwise use 10,000 pounds of a chemical, or use certain quantities of Persistent, Bioaccumulative, and Toxic chemicals that are on the EPA 313 reporting list are required to submit Toxic Report Inventory (TRI) forms through the EPA CDX portal. The list includes, as of May 2020, 767 specific chemicals and 33 chemical categories. This is one of the more difficult tasks to accomplish to achieve compliance for facilities. Just determining if the plant is subject to reporting requirements may be an ordeal. Once chemical reporting requirements are identified, the data must be gathered on where the chemical was disposed on or off site, discharged to the city wastewater or to groundwater or surface water or emitted to the air. Reporting includes product, air emissions, water discharges, disposal to landfill or any waste management companies and the quantity that was recycled or treated on or off site. Non-compliance fines are quite high for this regulation.
The OSHA Hazard Communication standard (HAZCOM) is one of OSHA’s most frequently cited for violations The standard requires a written program, chemical container labeling, Safety Data Sheet (SDS) availability during the shift an employee asks for one, and training on the written program, labeling program selected, and how to understand an SDS. States typically follow the federal program, because of the Global Harmonization requirement, but some states may have their own HAZCOM additions.
The key to compliance with OSHA HAZCOM, TRI and Tier II reporting is good chemical management in the chemical acquisition processes. Typically, a facility should require all chemicals to be pre-approved by in house environmental or safety personnel or qualified outside evaluators before it is allowed on site. Once on site, then the chemical is fully regulated. Front end control can keep bad actors out, e, g, Methylene Chloride, a carcinogen, and a chemical with its own OSHA standard. Controlling employee purchases with credit cards or petty cash also must be addressed, though this often proves difficult. Employee trips to the hardware store to purchase what they want should not be allowed.
Smaller facilities may not have the resources to evaluate SDS’s. Sometimes, the document is 20 pages long and can be intimidating. Using a trusted third party source to review the SDS and to determine if it meets the HAZCOM standard providing all necessary information can be useful.