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EPA audit 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. 

EPA 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 requires companies to comply with all federal environmental regulations that the EPA enforces. If a company discovers any violations during an audit, it must report them to the EPA within 21 days of discovery, unless the EPA grants an extension. 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 showing good faith and commitment 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. Ineligible violations include those causing serious harm, posing imminent danger, or breaching orders or agreements.
  9. Cooperation. The disclosing entity is required to cooperate with the EPA.  

To obtain the 100% penalty reduction under the program, an organization must fulfill all nine eligibility criteria. If it misses the first condition – systematic discovery – it’s still eligible for a 75% penalty mitigation and no criminal prosecution recommendations. 


Choosing compliance graphic representation - EPA audit compliance made easier with field inspection software

Field inspection management software 

Companies find an ally in utilizing the Audit Policy through top field inspection management software like Fulcrum. Let’s explore how this software aids companies and EHS professionals with the EPA’s Audit Policy.

Quick problem discovery

Initially, inspection software empowers EHS professionals to create digital checklists and SOPs, ensuring accurate and consistent execution of tasks. Additionally, it serves as an “early warning system” for faster issue detection. Furthermore, the software allows companies to effectively assign, track, document, and audit field activities, guaranteeing thoroughness and leaving no task unattended.

In both field and office settings, field inspection management software leverages cloud connectivity and real-time data. Moreover, automated workflows and configurable checklists facilitate swift identification of potential compliance issues. This proactive strategy addresses problems early, aligning with the Audit Policy’s voluntary violation discovery requirements and leading to safer, higher quality, more compliant outcomes. Importantly, platforms like Fulcrum enable on-site employees to report issues via QR codes, essentially turning each employee into a real-time inspector. This cultivates a culture of collective responsibility and prioritizes the quick reporting of emerging problems, significantly enhancing safety and compliance.

Comprehensive documentation

Field inspection management software is vital for documenting compliance activities. It offers detailed insights into the scope of 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. 

Digital platforms like Fulcrum generate essential reports, including issue timelines, corrective actions, and remediation plans required by the EPA. Easily accessible with a swipe, this documentation showcases a company’s dedication to compliance and environmental stewardship, crucial for Audit Policy eligibility.

A solid framework for remediation

Field inspection management is key for achieving and exceeding Audit Policy standards. It provides a solid framework for timely remediation, crucial for compliance. This software organizes remediation at digital speed, managing tasks and teams efficiently. It also streamlines documentation, enhancing the overall process.

Cloud-connected platforms like Fulcrum offer real-time updates, keeping everyone on track. This approach guarantees meeting deadlines and prevents delays. Managers can monitor inspections through dashboards, identifying gaps and directing efforts effectively. These platforms enable quick setup and follow-through of inspections, ensuring swift resolution of issues. By reducing risks, enhancing safety, and maintaining compliance, the approach demonstrates a strong commitment to environmental responsibility. It also aligns perfectly with Audit Policy requirements, ensuring adherence to essential standards. Policy requirements.

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 essential for companies aiming to meet Audit Policy criteria and enhance compliance.

Fulcrum’s software swiftly identifies issues, facilitates problem documentation sharing, and supports responsive remediation. This shows environmental commitment and boosts EPA Audit Policy success chances.

Don’t wait for the EPA to find problems. Fulcrum helps find problems and fix them before 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 today!