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Backup Generators EHS Regulations in CA: How to Stay Compliant

Do you know which EHS regulations apply to your business’s backup power generatorsWith bills like AB 2511 and AB 944 coming into effect, many businesses are both being required and choosing to install backup generators but have not considered the regulatory requirements associated with them.  Let CDMS help you come into compliance by assisting with a determination of your regulatory requirements. 

 

Who? 

Any facility with a backup generator with more than 55 gallons of either reserve fuel or battery acid is required to comply with requirements from several regulatory agencies.  Dangers for employees and surrounding businesses need to be mitigated.  Reporting is also required so that emergency personnel can respond accurately to your facility.   

 

  1. Batteries and EHS Compliance:
  • Chemical Storage: Large battery systems involve the storage of hazardous chemicals. Compliance with regulations such as the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA’s) Hazard Communication Standard ensures proper labeling and handling of these substances. Ensure employees are properly trained in hazard communication as well as what to do in case of emergency.  Employees are also required to wear proper PPE when servicing the equipment.   
  • Waste Management and Disposal: Batteries, especially those used in large backup systems, fall under hazardous waste regulations when disposed of. Proper disposal and recycling are essential to prevent environmental contamination. Compliance with regulations like the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) is crucial.  Companies which ship out hazardous waste must obtain an EPA Id number and submit an eVQ annually.   
  • Reporting: If more than 55 gallons of battery acid is stored onsite, you may be required to report the chemical on the California Environmental Reporting System (CERS) annually.  You will also be inspected by your local CUPA at least once every 3 years.   

  

  1. Fuel-Powered Generators and EHS Compliance:

  

  • Chemical Storage: Fuel backup generators typically have a significant reserve in order to supply backup power for several days.   Companies need to comply with Compliance with Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) Hazard Communication Standard ensures proper labeling and handling of these substances. Ensure employees are properly trained in hazard communication as well as what to do in case of emergency.  Employees are also required to wear proper PPE when servicing the equipment.  If above ground, have appropriate spill equipment handy as well as storm drain covers.   
  • Waste Management and Disposal: If the fuel is ever contaminated, it will need to be shipped off as hazardous waste. Proper disposal and recycling are required to prevent environmental contamination. In compliance with regulations like the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA).  Companies which ship out hazardous waste must obtain an EPA Id number and submit an eVQ annually.   
  • SPCC Plans: Fuel backup generators, which commonly use diesel, are subject to Spill Prevention, Control, and Countermeasure (SPCC) regulations if more than 1,320 gallons are stored. Facilities in California are subject to the Aboveground Petrolium Storage Act and must develop and implement SPCC plans to prevent and respond to oil spills that could harm US waters.  These plans must also be renewed every 5 years. 
  • Air Quality Standards: The operation of fuel-powered generators can contribute to air pollution. Compliance with the Clean Air Act ensures that emissions from generators meet acceptable standards. This may involve the use of emission control technologies and regular monitoring.  Check with your local AQMD for information.    

 

  1. General Considerations for Both:

Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA): Facilities must comply with EPCRA, which includes reporting hazardous chemical storage and developing emergency response plans. This is critical for both battery and fuel-powered backup systems. 

Noise Standards: The installation and operation of large generators may impact the surrounding environment and worker safety. Compliance with noise standards ensures that the facilities keep their neighbors and employees safe.  If power generation emits a sound more than 85 decibels, ensure employees are trained to avoid the area without protection.   

Worker Safety: Occupational safety regulations, including those related to electrical safety and hazardous materials handling, apply to employees working with or around backup generators.  Employees who maintain these pieces of equipment must be trained in electrical safety and lockout tagout procedures.   

  

  1. How can we help:

Incorporating large battery and fuel backup generators into a facility’s infrastructure requires a multifaceted approach to EHS compliance. CDMS understands and proactively addresses the various regulations, businesses can ensure the reliability of their backup systems while upholding environmental responsibility and the well-being of their employees and communities. We regularly assess and update our compliance strategies as better technologies and processes are developed and as new laws are passed.