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Does this spreadsheet look familiar to you? I hate to the be the bearer of bad news…but its that time of year! YES the deadline for hazardous materials reporting (for most facilities) in California is only a few weeks away! If you’re like me and many facility staff across California, you’ve been staring at these spreadsheets for weeks trying to update and submit Hazardous Materials Business Plans (HMBP’s) and the associated documents before the March 1st deadline!

Let’s get back to that dreaded spreadsheet….and I promise you’re not the only one, my palms are sweaty just looking at it too! Whether you’re a hazardous materials expert or getting prepared to submit your first HMBP, I know looking at that spreadsheet can easily get overwhelming. It’s the spreadsheet for the California Environmental Reporting System (CERS) submittal! CERS is the statewide, web-based system to support businesses and Unified Program Agencies with electronically reporting, collecting, and managing hazardous materials-related data as mandated by the California Health and Safety Code.

I could go on and on about why spreadsheets are the bane of my existence. Some things that really grind my gears about spreadsheets and CERS submittals are:

  • How time-consuming the process is. Especially if you are updating this spreadsheet once a year.
  • I need more than a one-dimensional analysis from my spreadsheets. It’s fine if I just want an answer once…but what happens when I need to update the spreadsheet every change of chemical or chemical location? I discovered the data had to be re-inputted, recalculated, each time! No thank you!
  • I couldn’t share my spreadsheet easily with others because it was even hard for me to interpret. Imagine a non-computer savvy employee trying to interpret the spreadsheet. Would s/he be able to tell me whether a chemical changed or a storage location change?  Wouldn’t it be great if I had the ability to collaborate coherently?
  • The spreadsheet is part one out of two in the CERS submittals process, and does not provide me necessary components, like a facility map! Without a capability for a seamless chemical to map function, what am I really getting? More work, that’s what!

I have to stop there – just thinking about why spreadsheets are the worst is making my blood boil.

Now imagine a world where spreadsheets aren’t ruining your life. Fortunately, Mapistry has made this dream world a reality!

Before I dive into how intelligent our workflow is (sorry shameless plug) let’s first chat about why HMBP and CERS is even a requirement in California – yep this is California specific all 49 other states are off the hook! On June 22nd, 1985 the Anaheim Fire Department requested the assistance of the  Orange County Fire Department to respond to a structure fire at a chemical warehouse. Both crews had no prior knowledge of the facility or chemicals stored inside. All hell broke loose when crews tried to use water to suppress the flames, many of the chemicals manufactured and stored at the facility were water reactive, and caused a toxic cloud to erupt in addition to toxic material showering emergency response crews! Ultimately, 10,000 people were evacuated and amazingly no crews were injured during this incident. This very close call led the California Legislature to pass a law requiring all [regulated] businesses disclose the amounts and types of hazardous materials facilities use and store.

Ok, the history lesson is over! Now, back to the good stuff. Mapistry’s Hazardous Materials Suite links the map to the spreadsheet – what exactly does that look like?

It all starts in the maps!  In your HMBP map you can simply add a chemical location using the point feature. Adding a new chemical in the maps then automatically(!) updates that CERS spreadsheet – never fear you’re data quality is safe!

In addition to creating ongoing chemical inventory accessible on your Mapistry homepage.

 

Facility guys and gals can update the spreadsheet too without even having to open Microsoft Excel. By directly inputting the chemical info within the chemical storage layer in our mapping toolset, the spreadsheet is instantly updated. Also, the digital editor is a fast and easy way to drop standardized hazardous materials symbols in the exact locations you need on your facility site map.

Once I used our Hazardous Materials Suite, I realized I could maintain my semi-free spreadsheet life while still meeting the requirements for my CERS submittal.

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