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1 Introduction to EHS in Vehicle/Equipment Maintenance and Refueling Operations

EHS Intro GRAPHICWhy this is important to you

Providing a clean and safe workplace without a lot of time and cost involved, complying with EPA and OSHA rules and limiting the risk for lawsuits and fines are three main reasons why you should be interested in the AESE system. You should do what you can so shop employees can come home every day with ten fingers and both eyes– that minor injuries even near misses occur very rarely. You should do what is necessary to make sure there is little chance an oil slick found on a creek two miles away is traced to your shop or that those dangerous wastes being hauled away are not being discharged into a storm drain or dumped on a farmer's field. You want to limit the risk of fines (or imprisonment), embarrassment in your community, expensive legal proceedings, and costly injury-related time off (not counting human misery). Good safety practices may even lower your insurance premiums.

Another less obvious benefit for having a good EHS program is that employees recognize and respect an employer who cares enough to stress environmental, health and safety as an enforced policy. Participating as a trained team member will increase morale and improve productivity–and that is more time and money saved and made–while maximizing the level of compliance. To create this type  of culture requires participation and teamwork from upper management down to the vehicle maintenance facility (VMF) manager, the technicians and other shop employees.

Employees recognize and respect an employer who cares enough to stress environmental, health and safety as an enforced policy.

M-checklist-picAbout AESE Online

The purpose of the AESE Online system is to provide education, training, comprehensive reference materials and further resources. You already have an EHS program to some degree and this system will help  you upgrade it further– saving you time and money. This information is for any person with EHS responsibility over VMFs. This would include the VMF manager (and who the manager designates as EHS coordinator), the organization's regional and district coordinators, as well as those in the organizational structure at “headquarters” responsible of overall EHS management and strategy. VMF managers also have available to them any of the 30 audits on any topic for their facility and 12 training modules for them and their technicians. Each topic covered contains training and informational videos. Any user may contribute materials, links, video or comment at the end of every section.

AESE Online is for corporate and regional EHS managers and those with EHS duties at single locations.


All chapters of the AESE Online service are based upon previous AESE published guidebooks  on EPA/Environmental and OSHA/Safety compliance in vehicle maintenance and refueling operations. The environmental guides were written by David M. Augenstein, MSc, PEng and the safety guides were written by him and George Swartz, MSc, CSP (formerly Safety Director for Midas International and now deceased). Credits to other contributors such as trade associations, regulatory agencies and industry EHS professionals are given at their sections.

environmental-health---safety-logo-primaryThroughout the system all 100 acronyms are in blue and defined in place by hovering over the acronym such as EHS and VMF. Certain important terms that are often used are in blue and link to the detail page, such as record-keeping and training requirements.

Main navigation is provided by the floating menu (contents) at the right. A table of contents is at the top of each section. Arrows on the far left/right for the previous/next section for those who want to read it through.

You will be notified on the first Tuesday of each month of significant updates/upgrades/additions and with a summary of industry news such as enforcement actions on VMFs. Those additions will be  highlight in yellow, like this paragraph, so you can tell what has been added or updated.

This Section 1 is an introduction to EHS management in VMFs and covers  fundamentals. There are also some advanced topics and historical facts about environmental and safety controls in fleet and automotive maintenance and refueling, fuels and vehicles.

This chapter stresses the importance of establishing an ongoing environmental, health and safety program, provision for good training of personnel, continuing education, record-keeping, communicating goals and policies from the top down and making continuous improvements through internal periodic audits/inspections and corrective actions. All topics in AESE Online has training and informational videos embedded such as the one below which serves as an introduction to pollution prevention in VMFs:

 

Fundamentals of an EHS Management Program 

Much or all of the day-to-day EHS compliance responsibility rests with the manager in charge of the vehicle maintenance facilities. Proper education and training of these managers is essential and is an investment in the future of your organization.

This section provides many of the basic principles to assist you in developing an EHS management program or evaluating and improving your existing program. It also provides fourteen basic keys of EHS management and examines the major areas affected by EPA and OSHA regulation common to all vehicle maintenance and refueling operations.

There are four primary categories under which all EHS management functions may be placed: 1) program development (continuous);  2) training and refresher training; 3) periodic audits and inspections; and 4) corrective actions.

Safety-Starts-With-YouProgram Development 

EHS management is a continuously evolving process. This responsibility begins with a management commitment to provide personnel and financial resources to comply with existing laws. A responsible and knowledgeable person needs to be designated to oversee all program elements. Depending on the size of the operations, EHS responsibilities may need to be delegated to corporate, regional, district and facility personnel. The development process must include appropriate education, training and awareness at all levels of the organization—from top management to facility personnel. Successful organizations empower their employees by giving them the necessary tools and resources to do their job. Program development must include maintaining sources of reliable information to stay current with changing regulations, technologies and management methods. The heart of the program must be in developing and implementing written procedures which address all regulated areas.

Program Elements

EHS responsibilities need to be delegated to corporate, regional, district and facility personnel.

For a very broad overview of various program elements, answer the following questions based on your situation.

1. Has a statement of environmental and safety responsibility been  endorsed by top management and communicated to all employees?

2. Has an environmental and safety management program been established throughout your organization?

3. Have environmental and safety responsibilities been delegated to a person(s) within the organization?

4. Have appropriate resources and budget been authorized and established by the organization?

5. Does the program provide for periodic facility audits or inspections (weekly, monthly, annually) and reviews to monitor compliance, measure performance and control costs?

6. Does the program include periodic education, training and awareness for facility managers and technicians?

7. Are program objectives clearly communicated and responsibilities delegated to appropriate individuals?

8. Do you have established methods to ensure timely reports and permit renewals to all government

agencies?

9. Does the program include a procedure for the organization, maintenance and storage of all records?

10. Does the program include procedures to prepare for an EPA or OSHA inspection?

11. Does the program include procedures for responding to notices of violation and other orders of government agencies?

12. Does the program include procedures to evaluate and inspect firms providing waste transport, treatment, storage and disposal of regulated wastes?

13. Does the program include procedures to limit environmental liabilities from the purchase, lease or transfer of real estate?

14. Are policies enforced and are incentives (or penalties) provided to maximize employee compliance? 

If you have not answered a strong YES to any one of these questions, it indicates an opportunity to improve your program. Do any of the items above need substantial improvement? These questions are covered in checklist format as Part 1 of the EHS Compliance Audit for VMFs. This is for your use at one facility in accordance with the licensing agreement.

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Record-keeping

EHS record keeping is one of the most important chores for EPA and OSHA compliance. If you do not have a good EHS well-organized and maintained filing system you do not really have a good compliance and management program. This is the main aspect of a regulatory agency inspection. They will meticulously inspect and search the records for any sign of deviation from requirements.  This is the easiest violation for them to document and then be able to send you a written warning. Review and organization of your record-keeping methods need to be part of your annual self-audit.

The EHS records should obviously be kept in a file cabinet and the file drawer may need to be dedicated to EHS only as these records will fill a drawer over time.

Paper records should be filed in these folders. Here are some ideas:

EHS record keeping is one of the most important chores for EPA and OSHA compliance.

Environmental

Permits and licenses (and applications)
Local and state EPA regulations
Correspondence (including important emails)
Reports to agencies
Waste removal records
Vendors/receipts
Training records (file a copy in employees personnel file)
Training materials Auditing/Inspections Lab analysis
Other folders that you want

Safety

Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) — web-based services are available such as 3E and may be the best method if you have multiple locations.

Accident reports and records relating to job related injuries/illnesses

Training logs and documents
Training materials
Vendors and receipts (safety supplies)
Self-auditing and self-inspections
Agency inspections
Agency correspondence (Fire, OSHA, Health) including reports

Local and state regulations
Safety guides from manufacturers

Electronic Records

Many records are sent or received through the computer — website downloads, emails with attached documents, PDFs, Word.docs, spreadsheets etc. You may also have regulatory reports submitted through their web interface connecting to their database. Either paper or electronic is sufficient for compliance purposes except where paper reports are submitted via mail (preferably certified).

The question is: should there be a paper record of all of these? No, but it is recommended only the important electronic information be printed and filed so there is a continuity. A thorough search for information would require searching both types of records.

Emails could be dragged and stored in an EHS folder. Likewise, documents on your hard-drive should probably be put into an EHS folder. You might find it helpful to break the folder into main topics.  You could also make your own control panel — a page with links to web resources, folders on your hard-drive or important and frequently used applications such as spreadsheets, databases, AESE Online, MSDSs online. You can make a short cut on your desktop and/or browser tab.

Program Scope  

Environmental/EPA – The scope of environmental regulations which cover equipment and vehicle maintenance and refueling operations are immense and differ substantially among states and localities. Regulation changes also occur frequently. For vehicle maintenance/refueling operations, your audit will cover most, if not all, of the following areas:

* Management and proper disposal of wastes such as antifreeze, used oil filters, used oil, absorbents, solvents, paint wastes and filters, scrap tires, batteries and all other wastes generated.

*  Management and proper disposal of wastewaters such as service bay drain wastewaters, tank bottom waters, vehicle washwaters and stormwater.

* Management of fuel storage and liquid storage systems such as underground and aboveground tanks and containers used to store used oil or hazardous wastes.

* Compliance with clean air requirements for air conditioning servicing, automotive refinishing operations, Stage I and II vapor recovery at gasoline dispensing facilities, use of proper fuels and applicable alternative fuel requirements.

*  Community Right-to-Know reporting of hazardous materials stored on site.

* Requirements for recycling of solid wastes and waste minimization.

Safety/OSHA– Many OSHA regulations require a written plan and some employee training. Those safety issues that are not covered by a regulation or a training requirement are covered under the catch all General Duty clause. A good example of this is automotive lift safety. All of the following applies to VMFs:

Hazard Communications Standard (Employee Right to Know)–written plan and training

Emergency Planning (Fire, Chemical Accidents, Weather etc)– a written plan and some training

First Aid/Bloodborne Pathogen Standard (you may qualify for exemption)

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)– written plan and training

General Safety Issues (Housekeeping, Electrical, Equipment and Tool Safety, Ergonomics, Driver Safety)

Lock-out/Tag-out Standard (LOTO)– written plan and training

Asbestos/Dust Controls during brake/clutch repairs and in buildings

Transport Safety/DOT–Rules for transport of hazardous materials (receiving and shipping)–plan and training. This is also for drivers and vehicle safety for those who have trucks that transport covered hazardous materials.

All of the above topics are covered in AESE Online as shown in the contents on the right column.

Training

Crucial to the continuing success of program development is the proper and periodic training of the EHS  coordinator(s) and all other affected personnel. Without training, awareness and education backed up with written procedures and guidelines which are enforced, your program will be ineffective. AESE Online offers 12 EHS training modules for VMFs–most of which are legal requirements– the use of which is part of your subscription. Additional training tools are also available such as DVDs on many topics.

Large companies usually have the resources to conduct some type of training program internally, supplemented with outside resources. Small companies must look to outside sources and materials. Outside training should be both operations-specific (dealing in equipment and motor vehicle maintenance/refueling) and preferably state-specific.

Periodic Audits and Surveys

auditchekcpicOne of the most important elements of an EHS management program is an audit (self-inspection with checklists). An audit is periodic monitoring and review of facilities and operations, record-keeping, waste-handling procedures, etc., and is a valuable management tool.

As part of your subscription, AESE Online offers about 30 mini-audit checklists that can be used at all licensed locations. These are part of the suggested annual audit and as a training excercise during the VMF managers training.

An audit should be done annually and before a planned EPA or OSHA inspection. Audits should be conducted by qualified professionals prior to a real estate transaction. An audit should be conducted by a new facility manager or EHS coordinator as part of their training.

The value of an audit is only as good as the person conducting it and the checklist or procedure used. A good audit will indicate areas that may not be in compliance and will require further evaluation or corrective action. If you do not have a periodic auditing procedure, then you really do not have an environmental management program.

As defined by the EPA in the July 9, 1986 Federal Register, a properly conducted “environmental audit” should include a review of how your facility handles, stores and disposes of chemicals and wastes; how you manage on-site processes which are ongoing at your facility; and risks associated with regulated and unregulated materials and practices.

In addition to uncovering potential violations, an audit can also yield valuable information to help improve your EHS management program and control costs including time. The auditing process minimizes your short-term and long-term liabilities and the possibility of serious fines and imprisonment.

When Should an Environmental Audit be Conducted?

There are at least four occasions which should trigger an environmental and/or safety audit:

*  Annual Compliance Check: A thorough regulatory compliance audit of facilities and operations should be conducted every year and perhaps every 6 months.

* Real Estate Transfers: An environmental audit should be used as part of real estate transfer assessments to determine the suitability for purchase or lease of a property. These assessments should only be conducted by qualified professionals– many are certified for environmental assessment of real estate transactions. These evaluations look at historical uses of the property, on-site testing and analysis, off-site environmental liability and other issues.

* EPA or OSHA Inspections: An environmental and safety audit should be conducted as far in advance as possible of an anticipated inspection by EPA or OSHA personnel. Any deficiencies should be corrected prior to the inspection.

* Personnel Changes: Whenever there is a change in facility managers or designated facility environmental, health and safety coordinators, it should be standard practice to have the new personnel conduct a self-audit of the facilities. It will provide a standardized, facility-specific method for their training and orientation in their new position.

Where Can I Get a Checklist? 

As part of your subscription, AESE Online offers about 30 mini-audit checklists that can be used at all licensed locations. These are part of the suggested annual audit and as a training excercise during the VMF managers training.

You might find a professionally reviewed and prepared checklist from a number of sources:

* Your company environmental manager

*  A local or state trade association or environmental agency

*  An environmental consultant or attorney  

You can also develop one on your own if you have the necessary background and experience or AESE can customize our audit system for your company.

Who Should Complete the Audit? 

You may want to designate an in-house specialist or an outside consultant to conduct an environmental audit using a professionally reviewed and prepared procedure. An audit of the facility and routine operations may be conducted by facility managers or the designated environmental, health and safety coordinator. The value of results and conclusions of the audit will be improved if it is conducted by an environmental, health and safety specialist. In small companies, the owner or partner may be best suited to conduct the audit. An audit conducted for real estate transfer or other legal purposes should only be conducted by a qualified professional.

What About Confidentiality? 

Consideration must be given to the confidentiality of the information obtained during the audit and the conclusions and reports made based upon the audit. Knowing of violations or conditions which may be a threat to human health and the environment and failing to act to correct the deficiencies place the owners, operators and employees in a more serious legal situation than having no knowledge. The confidentiality of the results may only be protected through a privileged attorney-client communication.

It is generally recommended you conduct your environmental audit with the knowledge of and under the direction of the corporate or organization’s chief legal counsel who may elect to establish a privileged attorney-client relationship between the attorney and the person conducting the compliance audit. This must be done prior to beginning the audit to protect the confidentiality of the results.

Corrective Actions 

The auditing procedures set forth above will have identified areas of noncompliance with regulations, best management practices or company policies. Deficiencies should be corrected on a prioritized basis. Examples of corrective actions include facility modifications, changes in equipment and materials, testing and monitoring procedures, operating methods and procedures, clean-up of contaminated areas, a change in waste disposal or transportation firms, adding or upgrading training, adding safety equipment, signs and posters etc.  Corrective actions are a never-ending element of managing EHS affairs. 

Implementing Your EHS Program

Designating a Coordinator

Many of the environmental, health and safety regulations such as Employee and Community Right-to-Know, hazardous wastes and spill prevention, control  and countermeasures, require designation of an emergency coordinator. It is suggested you consider designating one person at each facility as an environmental, health and safety coordinator.

This person should have responsibility for record-keeping, reporting and notification and emergency response as well as assisting in training functions.

Written EHS Management Policy

It is recommended each facility have a written EHS management policy. The notice can be posted near a telephone in a visible location. The policy should include:

*  A statement indicating the intent of the facility management to comply with all federal, state and local environmental, health and safety rules and regulations; and

* A list of contacts to be notified in case of an emergency, including:

Company personnel including 24-hour contacts
Local fire department
Police or sheriff department
State EPA office
National Response Center
LEPC
SERC
Spill response contractor
Hospitals and emergency contacts

At a minimum, it is recommended you provide a written plan which is openly available to all employees and includes:

* Proper procedures for handling used oil and other automotive fluids

* Proper procedures for transfer and storage

* Methods, equipment and supplies for the clean-up of spills

* Internal reporting of events and situations that do not comply with the company policy. Examples are reporting severe unsafe behaviors, a near miss injury, a spill of oil on the pavement.

* List of outside service firms, with names and addresses, used for transport of wastes and used oil and spill response

* Where PPE is required and location of supplies

* Location of MSDSs and other safety materials

Appropriate written plans as required (Haz Com, PPE, LOTO etc)

* Employee incentives and penalties for violation

Additional plans for SPCC, SARA Title III and RCRA may be required by law.

Summary of Notification, Reporting and Record-keeping
Requirements

All records, reports, notifications and correspondence should be filed and retained for an indefinite period. The rules specify the minimum retention period required by law. Most fines and citations are for record and reporting violations. A summary of key records is given below.

Conclusion to EHS Management 

Audit your facilities periodically. Correct your deficiencies on a prioritized basis. Expect to expand and improve your program with time and experience.

Make sure you have a record-keeping system and that it is evaluated each year and maintained.

With effective program management, when  new regulations become effective, they can be more easily incorporated into your existing program.

All organizations should prepare a master compliance program. In developing your program, someone should be involved who has detailed knowledge of both the operations and the regulations.  

Many have seen the benefits of placing OSHA and EPA compliance responsibilities under the same manager. Your program will continue to evolve and improve over time with the right attitude and commitment. 

History of Environmental Control in Vehicle Maintenance and Refueling 

In the past century, since the first running of the Duryea motorcar in 1893—which later became the first marketed American production automobile—both the petroleum and automotive industry have made tremendous environmental and safety progress. Environmental controls, waste management and even recycling have been a part of this industry segment for many decades. This includes recycling of used oil, reclaiming spent batteries and retreading of used tires. In fact, oil companies and petroleum marketers recognized the importance of proper waste management in service stations early in the 20th century.

In 1933, the American Petroleum Institute (API) published the first known guidebook entitled Disposal of Wastes from Service Station and Bulk Plants. This twelve-page, 10-cent booklet discussed most of the same issues we see today . . . “careless disposal of waste materials resulting in pollution . . . discharge of petroleum into sewers and watercourses . . . accidental spills and overflows.” It discussed the existence of common laws related to nuisances, fire codes, littering and the importance of aesthetics and public image in maintaining a profitable business operation. Today, environmental regulation proliferates through a complex system of 17 major federal laws which are further expanded through state and local laws and regulations.

Environmental regulations in the United States did not begin to have a major impact on the automotive aftermarket and vehicle maintenance services until the late 1960s—when the first automotive-emission controls were implemented—vapor canisters and exhaust gas recirculation (EGR). In 1970, the Clean Air Act required a reduction and eventual elimination of lead additives in gasoline and installation of the catalytic converter to reduce certain automotive exhaust gases by up to 90%.

In the 1980s, environmental regulations began to escalate. New regulations on the small-quantity generators of hazardous waste, disposal of used oil and spent batteries and underground storage tanks (USTs) were introduced along with the Community Right-to-Know regulations. At the same time, various health and safety regulations, such as Employee Right-to-Know became effective.

In the 1990s, many new rules and regulations were finalized—the Toxicity Characteristic Leachate Procedure (TCLP) rule, landfill bans, stormwater controls and wastewater pretreatment, refrigerant recycling and alternative fuel requirements.

Also in the 1990′s, environmental regulation and policies were implemented concerning wetlands, endangered species and biodiversity resulting in strict land-use controls.  Global-warming controls are now beginning to take place– forcing the reduction in the use of petroleum and other fossil fuels.

Many more state and federal laws and regulations are in the developing stages. Rapidly developing are many policies and rules based on United Nations (UN) objectives. These include new rules cover fuels, alternative fuels and vehicle engine and emissions controls which are largely beyond the scope of AESE Online.

Wastes From Vehicles, Vehicle Maintenance and Refueling

Operation of motor vehicles and their maintenance comprise the most significant category of environmental impact in the United States and the world. In fact, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the vehicle maintenance segment accounts for the largest single category of small-quantity waste generators. Over 250 million cars and 50 million trucks, buses, heavy equipment and other vehicles are maintained in an estimated 400,000 maintenance facilities throughout the U.S. Consider the following partial list of automotive wastes and emissions:

*  Automotive used oil—About 900 million gallons per year. 30% is from do-it-yourselfers (DIY) of which 15-20% is recycled. 70% is from automotive service facilities of which nearly all is recycled.

* Used oil filters—About 800 million used oil filters are generated every year. Most filters are landfilled although more and more filters are being crushed and/or recycled.

* Spent batteries—About 80 million spent lead-acid batteries are generated each year. It is estimated that up to 95% of these batteries are recycled to recover the lead for the manufacture of new batteries.

* Spent coolants—About 500 million gallons per year. Most spent coolants are discharged through a municipal treatment system. An estimated 20% is recycled on site or off site.

*  Scrap tires—About 250 million scrap tires are generated each year. About 40% of the truck tires are retreaded and about 5% of the scrap tires from cars and light-duty trucks are retreaded. At present, about 75% of all scrap tires are landfilled or stockpiled—and this is rapidly decreasing.

* Tanks and soils—Most of the 2 million regulated USTs are located at motor vehicle maintenance and refueling facilities. These include USTs for motor fuels and used oil. Wastes generated from tank removal include the tank, contaminated soils, water, sludges and other debris.

* Wastes from vehicle disposal—About 12 million automobiles and trucks are scrapped each year in the United States. Much of the scrap metals, plastics, parts, fabrics, glass, rubber and fluids are recycled. Efforts are underway to increase the amount of recoverable and recyclable materials through vehicle design changes.

*  Motor vehicle emissions—Automobile tailpipe emissions have been reduced by at least 95-99% over 1960 levels. With new emission standards and new fuels, another 90% reduction is expected. Lead emissions are essentially eliminated. Diesel engines are now being built to meet stricter emission standards. Contrary to popular belief, today's air is cleaner than ever, and getting cleaner by the month.

More and more manufacturers and suppliers to the automotive market continue to consider, with increasing weight, issues concerning design, life cycle and energy consumption of their products. Whether driven by regulation or customer demand, these concerns translate into opportunities to develop and market safer and more environmentally and energy efficient products and related services for the automotive service market.

Federal and state initiatives have set the framework for voluntary and mandatory emissions and waste reduction—commonly referred to as pollution prevention. Furthermore, the increasing cost of proper waste disposal and the economic consequences of improper waste disposal have made waste minimization good, common business sense.

Hazcom Ad Front PageNow, let’s start your engines and roll on into the garage with Chapter 2, Employee and Community Right-to-Know—which sets the foundation for  safe handling of hazardous materials as well as understanding the environment and chemistry of the vehicle/equipment maintenance shop.

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Below are some special topics which may be of interest to some:

Advanced Management Topics

Environmental and Safety Management Systems (ISO 14001 and OHSAS 18001)

Many larger organizations have adopted environmental quality standardized practices called ISO 14001 or something similar.  There is also an international occupational safety and health (OHSAS 18001) standard being used in Europe. Automotive manufacturers, for example, have implemented ISO 14001 and require their suppliers to do the same. These processes  (or similar) do not assure compliance; rather it assures a procedure is in place to measure all functions necessary to achieve and maintain regulatory compliance. This incorporates systems, processes, standards and procedures as an integral part of the organizations activities– just as you would handle financial accounting functions, for example.

A process should be developed at your company and VMFs to assure the monitoring of permits, reporting, record-keeping, guidance, training, education, auditing, installation of equipment, selection of vendors and service firms, reduction of hazardous material usage and wastes generated and so forth. Otherwise, too many items will be missed, neglected, late, unreported — and this will cost you more in time and money and violations will most likely occur.

Environmental Legislation and Regulation 

A rapid increase in environmental legislative and regulatory activity is evident within many states. Major variations in state and local regulations are evident in almost any area affecting vehicle maintenance and refueling operations. Now some states have different regulations on alternative fuels, volatile organic compounds (VOCs), disposal of fluorescent tubes, small batteries, electronic equipment  and many other products and materials.

Consider the existing federal and state laws and regulated areas—all topics contained within AESE Online—which impact fleet and vehicle maintenance and refueling:

* Employee and Community Right-to-Know

* Hazardous waste management

* Used oil management

* Underground storage tanks(USTs)

* Above-ground storage tanks (ASTs)

* Storage of fuels, wastes and products

* Wastewater discharges

* A/C refrigerants– R12 and R134a

* Alternative fuels

* Stormwater permitting and controls

* Hazardous materials transportation

* Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) regulations

In addition to the overlapping and interrelated rules administered by EPA, OSHA, Department of Transportation (DOT), U.S. Coast Guard, Army Corps of Engineers and other federal agencies, state and local regulations add more layers. Moreover, other state agencies such as departments of natural resources, fish and wildlife, forestry, land management, parks and recreation, and numerous special commissions have other authorities under the label of environmental protection which may affect property use. Local health departments and zoning and building commissions have also adopted measures for environmental protection. Since there are so many authorities, it is not uncommon that requirements may actually be conflicting and contradictory.

The Rulemaking Process

Environmental regulation (or any regulation, for that matter) are usually the result of Laws enacted through Congressional Acts. Congress passes a Law based on a crisis, catastrophic episode or special interest lobbying and delegates it to a federal agency (EPA, DOT, DOL, etc.) for implementation by certain deadlines. The agency develops rules based on its interpretation of Congressional intent, proposes rules in the daily Federal Register, accepts public comment and then issues final rules. The final rules may be challenged in a court, letting the court decide if the rules are what Congress intended. 

In addition, Executive Orders issued by the President are mainly directed toward government activity but can indirectly affect the private sector. These also play a major role in environmental policymaking.  

More and more, the signing of International Agreements and Treaties either by Congress or the President delegates authority and rulemaking to international bodies such as the U.N. and have direct effects on environmental policies and programs in the U.S.  

State, Regional and County Programs

States may obtain “franchises to own and operate” federal environmental programs (or many other federal bureaucracies) by submitting an implementation plan to the EPA. If approved, they receive funds to implement the given program (air, water, waste, etc.) County and regional programs must do likewise within their state.  

Impact of Environmental Regulation 

Without question, the rapid escalation of costs for compliance with environmental regulations is staggering. Well over $180 billion per year was spent for environmental compliance in the United States in 1992– and this is likely to be twice this amount now.  This represents about 25% of the total federal compliance burden of $1 trillion per year.  Due to the focus of new regulations directed at motor vehicles of all types, fuels and maintenance, the environmental costs for maintaining and operating a vehicle or a motor fleet will increase significantly.  

Environmental laws and regulations have had a major impact upon business in other ways: 

* Liability considerations for products and operations  

* Voluntary and mandatory waste and emission reduction and recycling efforts 

* Property value and real estate transfer  

* Increased enforcement activities and level of civil and criminal penalties for violations  

* Public relations, public image and advertising considerations  

In addition, most companies, large and small, have experienced other effects of regulatory demands:  

* Organizational changes to delegate environmental responsibilities  

* Greater allocation of personnel to monitor regulatory compliance and to implement and manage corrective action programs  

* Increased paperwork for permitting, record-keeping and reporting 

 For More Information 

No guidebook can address all regulations, in all states and for all situations. Regulations and policies are also subject to change at any time. In all cases, before acting on information contained herein, seek the advice of a qualified professional and the proper government agency. Look to:

* Your organization's EHS policies, practices, guidelines and approved equipment  

*  Your supervisor and your company EHS manager 

* Qualified EHS professionals 

* State and local trade and professional  associations 

* State and local regulatory agencies 

Throughout AESE Online, references to the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) are given for each regulation discussed. Many topics have a direct link to the Federal rules and links to the state specific rule and program. A reference to 40 CFR, Part 112, for example, means the main text of the regulation can be found in Title 40 of the CFR in Part 112. More information about EPA, OSHA and DOT can be viewed, of course, at their websites.

www.epa.gov

www.dot.gov

www.osha.gov 

However, as you can readily tell, finding what you want at these sites is not easy, time consuming and can end up lost in the maze. Our links under the topics go directly to the subject at these sites and more including many of the state program and state rules.

Some states have good environmental information that is specific to VMFs through their offices of Small Business Assistance or Office of Compliance Assistance. It is suggested you find those sites also.

 

 

 

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