Legislative Updates

Legislative Updates

By April Hirsch / Published July 2019

Photo by iStockphoto.com/A_M_Radul

Do you have a gnawing feeling that something has been forgotten? It’s not usually a problem when leaving the grocery store. It’s a potentially big problem when complying with industry regulations, however.

Unfortunately, the amount of time it takes to keep pace with regulations is considerable. Yes, there is the Regulations.gov portal that allows fast access to pending regulations, new regulations, requests for exemptions, and more. But the voluminous amount of regulatory verbiage generated is a real challenge for industry members.

Professional organizations, electronic updates from regulatory entities, apps, and consultants try to simplify the process of keeping pace by offering distillation and dissemination of industry-relevant information about regulations. Is there one tool that an industry expert might recommend above others?

“No,” says Dr. Marlo Dean, senior support services manager with Kärcher North America in Camas, WA. And he says it emphatically.

“Most commonly, the trade associations like CETA have a committee assigned to keep up with this ever-changing topic,” says Dean. “I have been involved with CETA—having the responsibility to be informed.” Dean served in 2018 and earlier as the chairman of the association’s tech-
nical committee.

“Staying informed requires reading agency websites and being placed on their list of concerned organizations for changes and announcements,”
says Dean. “I received over a dozen emails and updates every day from these various agencies, which required hours of reading and trying to understand thousands of pages of documents referenced in these announcements and emails.”

[Jimmy Welch with American Pressure Inc. in Robbinsdale, MN, is the 2019 chairman of the technical committee at CETA, and he has previously served as a committee member. See the sidebar that Welch prepared to illustrate what’s involved in monitoring regulatory expectations and changes.]

Dean says the most significant regulatory change that occurred in 2018 is Prop 65. California’s Proposition 65 requires warning labels on any possibly carcinogenic products that are sold in the Golden State, irrespective of where the products are manufactured. See the June 2018 issue of this magazine for a review of Prop 65 at www.cleanertimes.com/magazine/cleaner-times-articles-2/proposition-65-warning-may-cause-cancer.

Looking ahead at what’s coming is often difficult. “This is always a moving target, and we just need to make sure that our industry has a trade association that is vigilant in keeping up with any regulation that will impact our industry,” says Dean.

Understanding all applicable regulations is the first step in compliance. “Support your local industry association and help keep them informed with any information you receive,” says Dean. “Associations should work together because the volume of regulations that could impact us is huge.”

The reach of a regulation may have been unintended. But it may still apply. “Once a regulation exists, the government agency assigned the task to enforce it can place their own interpretations…which could impact our industry,” says Dean. “This happens at the local level, which is almost impossible to obtain information about because of all the city, county, and other jurisdictions.”

…And Europe

The “other jurisdictions” might well include Europe, if a manufacturer aims to sell to EU countries. One requirement on the horizon that industry members should be preparing for now is efficiency through eco-design. Welch points us to EUnited Cleaning at http://www.eu-nited.net/cleaning, the European Engineering Industries Association.

EUnited currently confers two labels, one for high pressure cleaning machines and the other for scrubber dryers. The labels certify high cleaning efficiency, low energy consumption, and low water consumption.

The high pressure cleaner label constitutes a seal of approval that encompasses demonstrated high efficiency in burner technology. Safety requirements met to receive the label are extremely high and document very low CO emissions, low dust emissions, and more. (EUnited illustrates the trend toward integration in regulation, with environmental goals driving design of products.)

World market participation by U.S. manufacturers is a good thing—and a complicated venture. In addition to meeting U.S. regulations, manufacturers must be able to obtain CE marking to prove they meet EU safety, health, and environmental protection requirements.

Welch cites the CE marking, WEEE, and RoHS as requirements U.S. manufacturers should be preparing to meet if selling in the world market. (And they should be expecting to meet similar requirements relatively soon in the United States.)

The EU continues to update its already implemented WEEE (waste electrical and electronic equipment) regulations, which focus on contriving ways to get consumers to recycle electrical and electronic equipment as a prelude to recycling some components.

RoHS (restriction of hazardous substances) restricts the use of certain hazardous substances in electronics sold in the EU. Among the restricted elements are lead, mercury, and cadmium, as well as several compounds—all of which are deemed dangerous to workers exposed to them at any phase of a product cycle.

At home, manufacturers have been readying for the transition from UL 1776 (ends March 1, 2021) to its replacement, UL 60335-2-79 (published January 14, 2016), for some time. They are also preparing for the 2020 California CARB [California Air Resources Board] evaporative emission standard testing changes.

CARB emissions testing requirements for small engines will become more stringent; many manufacturers already meet them. And CARB emissions testing requirements for trucks are being expanded and amplified. Sixteen other states now use California CARB as a guide.

Welch concurs with Dean on the rank that Prop 65 holds as the most significant regulatory change of 2018. And he, too, suggests
that compliance—without overlooking anything—is best done as a group effort.

“Be active and participate in CETA and network with others,” says Welch. “As an industry, we can work together. Be sure you have someone who is dedicated to these issues.”

Being Proactive

Worker safety, product safety, and the environment are the three large domains of regulations that affect our industry. And because one regulation can spawn multiple rules at multiple levels, being proactive is both a prudent and complex method of remaining compliant.

“New regulations are not the issue,” says Robert M. Hinderliter, environmental consultant based in Burleson, TX. “It is local increased levels of enforcement.”

Hinderliter gives us an example regarding environmental regulation that starts at the federal level and relies on local compliance and enforcement. It is the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES), which derives from the Clean Water Act. An NPDES permit is needed by entities that discharge pollutants from a point source into waters of the United States. There are regional and local permitting authorities, some of which line up with government and others that line up with water treatment authorities. Those with responsibility for issuing permits (and trying to prevent pollutants from entering waters) have their own reporting requirements.

“All agencies have to file a five-year NPDES permit, which will spell out the level of increased enforcement objectives for the next five years,” explains Hinderliter. “Sometimes they are posted for public comment, but there is no requirement to do so. Each jurisdiction can decide for itself what it will do.”

Contractors, manufacturers, and distributors may want to provide comment to local NPDES permitting entities. It can affect the shape of the plan, which will be stricter than its predecessor. “Each five-year plan has increased enforcement objectives,” explains Hinderliter.

Yet meeting increasingly higher standards may be considered by many contractors to be the easy part. That’s because contractors need an NPDES permit corresponding to each place they operate.

Hinderliter advises contractors start at the municipality level first. If there is a water treatment authority within the municipality that must be consulted, the municipality will point the applicant to it. He says it is also important to sign up for e-newsletters and alerts from jurisdictions in which they are operating.

The more industry members know what’s coming next, the better they can prepare. Try to get involved with regulators, especially at the local level.

“Meet and introduce yourself to the enforcement officers,” says Hinderliter. “You need to learn the language of environmental terms.”

Being conversant with regulators—whether they enforce environmental, work safety, or product regulations—makes commenting on pending rules and suggesting changes to existing rules much easier. 

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