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EPA compliance made easier with field inspection software

By The Fulcrum Team
April 20, 2023

The EPA’s Audit Policy encourages companies to voluntarily admit any environmental violations they may have committed. This policy offers incentives for self-disclosure including up to 100 percent reduction of gravity-based penalties and declining to recommend self-reporting entities for criminal prosecution. It’s a great way for companies to take responsibility for their actions and make things right, and be rewarded for taking the initiative to do so.

In this blog post, we’ll explore what the EPA’s Audit Policy entails, the eligibility criteria companies need to meet to take advantage of the policy, and how using field inspection management software for environmental compliance can help companies qualify for the policy. 

 The EPA’s Audit Policy 

The overall goal of the Audit Policy is to promote compliance with environmental regulations and reduce the impact of environmental violations on human health and the environment. 

To achieve this, the policy encourages companies to proactively conduct comprehensive environmental audits to identify potential violations and report any non-compliance to the EPA. The approach promotes self-disclosure by providing significant benefits for those who audit and inspect their facilities and come clean on their violations, allowing them to avoid penalties for violations and making formal EPA investigations and enforcement actions unnecessary. 

Formally titled “Incentives for Self-Policing: Discovery, Disclosure, Correction and Prevention of Violations,” the EPA designed the policy to be a win-win, giving companies the chance to correct violations and prevent future environmental damages, all while avoiding significant financial penalties. 

The policy applies to violations of all federal environmental regulations the EPA is authorized to enforce. If violations are discovered during the audit, the company must disclose them to the EPA within 21 days of discovery, unless the EPA approves a longer period. The company must also promptly correct the violations and take steps to prevent similar violations from reoccurring.  

By working with companies, the EPA can achieve its mission of protecting human health and the environment while helping companies operate more responsibly and sustainably.  

Audit Policy eligibility  

To take advantage of the Audit Policy, a company must meet certain eligibility criteria which ensure they are acting in good faith and are committed to environmental compliance. The nine eligibility criteria are: 

  1. Systematic discovery: Discovering violations is done through an environmental audit or implementing a compliance management system.  
  2. Voluntary discovery: The violation was discovered voluntarily and not detected because of a legally required monitoring, sampling, or auditing procedure. 
  3. Prompt disclosure: Full, speedy disclosure to the EPA is made in writing within 21 days of discovery (or a shorter time, as may be required by law). 
  4. Independent discovery and disclosure: Disclosure happens before the EPA (or another regulator) would likely have identified the violation through third-party information or its own investigation. 
  5. Correction and remediation: The violation must be corrected and remediated within 60 calendar days from the date of discovery, actions must be taken to repair any resulting harm, and any corrective and remedial steps must be certified in writing. 
  6. Recurrence prevention: Steps to prevent the recurrence of the same violation are agreed to in writing.  
  7. Ineligible repeat violations: Any violations that have already occurred at the same facility within the past three years (or those that have occurred as part of a pattern at multiple facilities owned or operated by the same entity within the past five years) are ineligible. Prior violations do not trigger this exclusion if the facility is newly acquired.
  8. Serious, ineligible violations: Certain types of violations are ineligible, such as violations that result in serious actual harm, present an imminent and substantial danger, and/or violate the terms of an administrative or judicial order or consent agreement. 
  9. Cooperation: The disclosing entity is required to cooperate with the EPA.  

If a company meets these criteria, it may be eligible to avoid penalties and fines for past environmental violations, as well as gain other benefits such as reduced liability.  

An organization must meet all nine of the eligibility criteria to be eligible for the 100% reduction of penalties offered under the program. However, even if it fails to meet the first condition – systematic discovery – it can still be eligible for 75% penalty mitigation, and a recommendation for no criminal prosecution of the violations. 


, EPA compliance made easier with field inspection software

Field inspection management software 

Thankfully, companies have a partner in their efforts to take advantage of the Audit Policy: leading field inspection management software like Fulcrum. Let’s drill down and look at how field inspection management software helps companies and EHS professionals take advantage of the EPA’s Audit Policy. 

1. Quick problem discovery. To start, inspection software lets EHS professionals create digital checklists and SOPs to ensure that inspection and compliance tasks are performed correctly and consistently, which also serves as an “early warning system” to discover problems faster. With inspection software, companies can seamlessly assign, track, document, and audit their inspection and compliance activities in the field, leaving no stone unturned or task forgotten. 

Whether on the ground or in the office, by leveraging cloud-connected, real-time data collection, automated workflows, and configurable checklists, field inspection management software helps companies quickly and easily identify potential compliance issues. This allows them to address emerging problems before they become more serious and helps them meet the Audit Policy’s requirement for the voluntary discovery of violations, while achieving better quality, safer, and more compliant outcomes. And leading platforms like Fulcrum allow anyone on the job site to report an issue through a QR code, turning every employee into a real-time inspector and creating a culture of collective, proactive responsibility that prioritizes the quick reporting of emerging problems. 

2. Comprehensive documentation. Field inspection management software is crucial for documenting compliance activities and providing detailed information about the range of your inspection, compliance, and remediation efforts. When deployed across your workforce, inspection software leaves no data point behind, letting companies track and document compliance activities, making it easier to identify potential violations and address them before they become more serious. In addition, digital inspections enforce collection requirements for more complete data, and eliminate transcription and other data errors to improve data accuracy. 

But digital inspection platforms like Fulcrum also generate a range of reports that include a timeline of issues, corrective actions taken, remediation plans, and other relevant information required by the EPA.  Available in various formats with little more than the swipe of a finger, this documentation demonstrates your company’s commitment and proactive approach to compliance and environmental stewardship, one of the key eligibility criteria for the Audit Policy.

3. A solid framework for remediation. To help you build a compliant posture that meets Audit Policy eligibility – and then goes beyond – field inspection management provides a solid framework for completing necessary remediation work in a timely fashion. Whether assigning tasks, managing teams, or providing documentation of the remediation work, inspection software organizes and optimizes remediation at the speed of digital. 

Cloud-connected digital platforms like Fulcrum provide real-time alerts and notifications so everyone is aware of their responsibilities and deadlines, helping avoid delays and ensure timely compliance. Platforms also allow managers to track all inspection activities through performance- and issue-tracking dashboards, which provide data-driven visibility to identify gaps and task remediation efforts. Quick creation, assignment, scheduling, and tracking of remediation and follow-up inspections ensure timely resolution of issues, reducing risk, promoting safety, and ensuring compliance. 

By promoting real-time management and collaboration and ensuring the timely identification and resolution of issues, inspection platforms build the comprehensive remediation framework essential for maintaining compliance and minimizing regulatory risk, demonstrating their commitment to environmental responsibility while meeting the eligibility criteria for the Audit Policy.

One planet, one software

The EPA’s Audit Policy provides a valuable incentive for companies to voluntarily discover, disclose, and correct environmental violations.  Field inspection management software is invaluable for companies looking to not just meet the Audit Policy’s eligibility criteria but also to improve their overall compliance posture.  

Fulcrum’s field inspection software allows for the quick discovery of problems, easily produces and shares documentation of those problems with stakeholders, and helps build a framework for responsive remediation – all of which demonstrate your commitment to environmental stewardship and increase your chances of successfully taking advantage of the EPA’s Audit Policy. 

Don’t wait for the EPA to find problems. Fulcrum helps you find your problems and fix them before an environmental disaster strikes or the EPA hits you with potentially devastating fines. 


Want to improve your environmental compliance and ensure your ability to qualify for the EPA’s Audit Policy? Sign up for a free demo of Fulcrum’s best-in-class field inspection management software to learn how to get started!