COVID-19 Guidance / Updates from EPA

With the outbreak of the coronavirus (COVID-19) now impacting a number of countries worldwide, the international response has posed increasing challenges to effectively manage the global supply chain. Among other things, several countries have enacted, or are considering to enact, various international and regional travel bans and restrictions which have the effect of further constraining global trade. Such restrictions have already been implemented in a number of Southeast Asian countries, and the U.S. has implemented travel restrictions for specific foreign nationals.
In light of the challenges posed by this situation, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has updated its Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) to add guidance for Third-Party Certifiers (TPCs) regarding the requirements for conducting routine surveillance audits at production facilities certified pursuant to TSCA Title VI:

13. In the event of unsafe conditions in the geographic areas that would prevent a third-party certifier (TPC) from traveling in-person to that area, how can a TPC work with one of its TSCA Title VI-certified composite wood product manufacturing panel producers to conduct quarterly inspections (including sampling collections of composite wood products) to ensure TSCA Title VI compliance until the unsafe conditions are no longer present?

In the event of unsafe conditions (e.g., natural disasters, outbreaks, political unrest, epidemics, and pandemics) in the area of a composite wood product manufacturing panel producer, in order to conduct the required quarterly inspections and sample collections, the TPC could conduct a remote quarterly inspection via teleconference to satisfy the requirements of 40 CFR 770.7(c)(4)(i)(F), and work with the panel producer quality control manager at that time to select, package, sign, and ship the TPC panels/samples for the quarterly test according to 40 CFR 770.20(c). TPCs and panel producers should also remain in close communication with each to ensure any changes or developments that might affect the panel producer or product type certification are managed according to the TSCA Title VI regulations. The panel producer and TPC should also document each unsafe conditions occurrence for auditing purposes, and the TPC should notify EPA through its TSCA Title VI accrediting body/third-party certifier general mailbox ( when this remote method of quarterly inspection is being used. The standard practice for a TPC providing certification services for composite wood panel producers remains that a TPC conducts in-person quarterly inspections and sample collection, packaging, signature, and shipping for quality control testing.

The above FAQ can be found at:

EPA’s guidance provides an interim solution to meet the challenges posed by the international response to the COVID-19 outbreak and further aligns the agency’s guidance to that of the California Air Resources Board (CARB) on these types of matters. However, the application of the guidance provided by this FAQ is to be used only in extraordinary circumstances, and should not be viewed as a means to bypass normal quarterly audit and testing requirements. Benchmark continues to manage its global staff to meet client needs and regulatory requirements, and we will only utilize the above mechanism as a last resort. We remain in close contact with EPA, our clients, and other regulatory agencies as needed, and we will communicate further information as needed.
Please contact us if you have any questions.