Construction materials producers can’t manage what they can’t see. In the case of environmental management: Poorly executed inspections, action item responses, documents, and maps equal heavy fines and penalties.
Where are your Stormwater or SPCC Plan inspections? Do you have instant access to them so that you can see if they are even being done? Do reports contain open and closed action items by dates? Are these plans accessible to anyone that needs to view them? Do they contain current regulations, permits, proper certifications or other necessary items? Are specific components like maps and specifications being properly updated?
These are questions industry professionals are considering as a growing emphasis is placed on environmental compliance and enforcement in communities. Ready mixed plants and other concrete production facilities are no exception. For example, most have to manage a Spill Prevention Control and Countermeasure (SPCC) plan due to the qualifying amount of fuel, oils, and other petroleum related products used on site. As well, a Stormwater Pollution Prevention Plan is required by the Federal Clean Water Act on most concrete production facilities that have exposures to rain or snow melt.
|complianceGO programmers tailor cloud-based inspection and documentation solutions according to a ready mixed plant’s Spill Prevention Control and Countermeasure and Stormwater Pollution Prevention Plan guidelines. Their software enables environmental or plant managers to schedule inspections and actionable measures according to permit targets or deadlines. The complianceGO program for construction materials operators was announced at ConExpo-Con/Agg 2014, timed with federal, state and local agencies’ increasing migration of recordkeeping requirements from paper to electronic alternatives.|
Federal, state, and/or local regulations are very specific when it comes to how these plans are managed. After all, these plans become the “court documents” in the case of a regulatory review, derived of self-monitoring documentation that is required by their complicated regulations. As inspection and documentation demands within these regulations grow more complex, coupled with both ever increasing regulatory oversight and a social consciousness of environmental concerns that has everyone under the microscope, companies are desperately trying to solve how to best meet them to stay compliant and avoid the negative publicity, costly fines and penalties that are on the rise … all of this while trying to build profits. The current state of affairs begs the simple questions of how and what to do.
So, what is the best way to efficiently manage these plans legally with their ongoing inspections, documentation and reporting? While many environmental regulations can seem burdensome, the regulations also allow some common sense methods for achieving compliance. One such method allows technology to be implemented to perform inspections with electronic signatures, creating and communicating action items, electronically updating maps and the overall electronic management of all environmental documentation, management, and communication. Company management personnel have been trying to figure out the best way to perform and manage components within these regulations on site for quite some time. Mailboxes, lockboxes, spreadsheets, handwritten checklists/notes, and other methods have been painstakingly used to try and meet these regulations.
However, inspections are often missed, action items are not noted or communicated, and maps/plans not retained or appropriately filed. In some instances, these federally mandated documents are even lost, vandalized, stolen, mismanaged, weathered, and ultimately not compliant. Company management personnel often struggle when emphasizing the need for continual upkeep and management of the SWPPP and SPCC—especially if the only way to see if plans are being managed and inspections are being performed is to actually drive to the site to view what is going on! When this is the case, compliance accountability, due to the lack of accessibility and verification, takes a dive while liability risk skyrockets—thus becoming a major problem for any company, let alone one with multiple regulated facilities and operations. And, it appears that the federal government is ready to require states and local municipalities to manage programs like the NPDES (National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System – Federal Clean Water act) electronically. This would certainly encourage anyone wanting to comply to utilize technology to save everyone money and time in the process.
Online software that will enable companies to perform inspections, document action items, update maps, and other files while managing it all electronically is more sustainable, and provides a much better way to manage an environmental program more efficiently and make it compliant. This concept is the very beneficial essence of implementing technology. As long as the way to electronically access updated plans, completed inspections, action items, and documents are posted with the permit, a site is complying with the law.
The benefits of utilizing technology for electronic management are obvious. Never has there been more incentive for the implementation of technology to enhance operational processes than this day and age where everyone has a smartphone, tablet, or access to a laptop or computer. Three-ring binders and hard copies of the plans, inspections, and all that other stuff are a thing of the past. Electronic performance and management of all things environmental is the process of the future, no different than our online banking accounts or filing our taxes electronically. This increases profitability, provides more flexibility, and drives improved compliance.
Consider the following advantages when utilizing technology to manage an Environmental Program:
- Correct inspection form for each permit can be utilized, managed, and amended when needed.
- Inspections and management on any device; creating a paperless process, saving time and costs.
- Correct inspection frequency for each permit can be set up.
- Adaptable inspection forms in real time when changes need to occur.
- Directives on inspection forms and action prompts can help ground operations comply.
- Drive action items electronically for communication and completion.
- Create, amend, update key maps/drawings, etc., when needed.
- Platform for all compliance documents-readable, accessible, retainable training modules available 24/7; operators access when it is best for them.
- Run reports for quality control and employee evaluations.
- Quantify action items by open and closed dates; run key reports to properly manage this cycle.
- Closes communication gaps of non-compliance from ground operations to management, “the eye in the sky;” you can’t properly manage what you can’t see.
- Protect company and personal risk management; closes compliance gaps in any program.
Company interests are better protected with electronic management as well. It is one thing to say, “These things are important,” but where companies invest in environmental management technology—providing a consistent process with tools and resources that often save time and money—operational efforts to comply with the regulations can finally be achieved.
Lee Ware is a Senior Consultant with complianceGO, online software developed by complianceGO.com, Orem, Utah, to assist industrial businesses with environmental inspections, compliance monitoring, tracking and management. He works directly with clients and consultants bringing the complianceGO platform to their operations, including a charter construction materials user, Staker Parson Cos., part of the Oldcastle Materials Mountain West Region. He can be reached at 888/467-0047; [email protected].