The bottom line is that data must be accessible and must be actionable, and technology helps provide that access and enable needed actions. For example, national companies operating in several states must report data in different formats for each state. In addition to translation into local formats, data must also be rolled-up for other corporate or business unit reporting purposes. Technology can enable efficient, effective approaches to addressing these and other requirements.
Step 4: staying current
Don’t wait until the reporting process to address potential deviations. Be aware that your jurisdiction may have a short-term deviation reporting requirement.
And this brings up the importance of foresight. I have a colleague who says that having a Title V permit is like calling the police after your commute home to confess that you were doing 60 mph in a 55 mph zone. And, while today you only need to report deviations on Title V, this may be a harbinger of what is to come in other areas of environmental health and safety (EH&S) compliance.
Add to this that Title V data, and all EH&S data for that matter, also may be required to demonstrate compliance with new and stringent financial reporting controls resulting from the Sarbanes-Oxley Act. As companies are required to identify all potential financial risk — including the risk of noncompliance — the pressure associated with managing compliance will only mount.
With the proper people, technology and processes in place, organizations can gain real value from self-policing. It is estimated that problems fixed proactively cost about 20% of those discovered by an outside agency. Eliminating reporting fire drills provides great power to organizations and has implications far beyond EH&S compliance activities. The ultimate goal — let’s call it “compliance nirvana” — is that organizations develop the capability to produce reports of any type at any time.
Step 5: learn how to play the game
The specter of noncompliance can weigh heavily on managers responsible for Title V. But awareness of common risks can help you avoid many problems. The most obvious categories of compliance risk are related to managing data, but there are other less obvious, and equally large, risks. These are usually rooted in misunderstanding Title V responsibilities or misaligning resources based on false assumptions.
Reporting late is one form of noncompliance. And here is where technology can help: Whether you use Microsoft Outlook, an existing work order management system, or a more robust compliance management solution, you can put reminders in place to ensure that this type of mistake doesn’t undermine corporate compliance.
Another common risk arises from misinterpretation of reporting requirements. In the early years of Title V enforcement, some managers failed to file reports because there were “no deviations.” The irony is that by not filing a report, these managers actually created a deviation.
One more common example of a risk relates to air emission limitations, particularly where companies don’t have a continuous emissions monitor (CEM) and choose to monitor process parameters instead. While monitoring process parameters is an entirely acceptable practice, it can create another type of compliance problem: the risk of over-compliance and misapplication of valuable internal resources. One company gathered emissions data every minute. If it went over the proscribed value for even one minute, the firm flagged it as noncompliant. In reality, its responsibility was to gauge performance based on average pounds per hour. Thus, the company was unnecessarily reporting deviations, and using valuable internal resources based on this over-interpretation. After an analysis and reconfiguration of their compliance process, it reduced 1,440 potential violations per day to 24.
Closing words of advice
If you’re responsible for managing Title V, review your processes to verify that you’re properly aligning technical, technological and human resources so that your best assets — your judgment and the judgment of all employees — are put to work. The benefits of streamlining data and process management include peace of mind and mitigated financial risk.
If you’re in the process of securing your Title V permit, anticipate the requirements and permit conditions, understand how you would report on them, and assign resources behind those tasks before you rush to certify.
Greg Gasperecz is vice president for environmental, health and safety at Enviance in Carlsbad, Calif. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.