PSMA CODE OF ETHICS & COMPLAINT PROCEDURES
Adopted January 8, 2000
The Pennsylvania Septage Management Association (PSMA) Board of Directors holds all members to a high ethical standard. PSMA wishes to remind all members to conduct business in a professional and ethical manner.
PSMA believes in the importance of environmental protection and in complete compliance with all applicable laws, regulations and standards.
The Board of Directors has, therefore, defined the ethical standards which its members must accept as a condition of membership.
PSMA members are committed to the compliance with all state and local regulations.
Onlot Wastewater Treatment System Inspections
The use of the PSMA/NOF Inspection Standards is restricted to individuals who have completed the required training and achieved a passing test score. When performing a PSMA/NOF Inspection, inspectors must fully apply the Standards. No part of the applicable PSMA/NOF Standards may be excluded.
PSMA members shall practice sound management in all activities, including but not limited to: inspections of onlot wastewater treatment systems; installation of onlot wastewater treatment systems; and, the processing, transport, storage and final use or disposal of septage and other biosolids materials.
The PSMA Ethics Committee shall receive a written complaint with all supporting documentation, sent by Certified Mail to the attention of PSMA ETHICS COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN at the headquarters address listed on this website, concerning a member not abiding by this Code of Ethics. The Ethics committee reserves the right to request any additional documents from either party and the permission of the property owner to allow a physical review of the property and its onsite systems prior to modifications. An investigation will be performed and a report will be presented to the Board of Directors. The member against whom the assertion is made may present a report as well. The Board of Directors will hear all parties and a decision will be made based on majority agreement. If the assertion(s) pertain to the Onlot Wastewater Treatment Inspection Standards, the Board of Directors will have the option to revoke or suspend any individual’s Inspection Certification, preventing them from performing PSMA/NOF inspections, if such individual is found not to be fully implementing the inspection Standards.
Separation of Repair Services Proposals From Inspections Reports Policy
To avoid a conflict of interest or the appearance of same, members of this association shall not combine an inspection report and a proposal, offer, or quote to provide the services described in said inspection report. To enjoy the freest access to the market place, PSMA members who complete inspections may, if they so choose, include any or all of the following statements in their inspection reports:
This company is capable of providing the services described elsewhere in this report and has provided the necessary price quote or estimate, a list of services to be provided, and any related documents under separate cover.
If requested, this company will provide the necessary price quote or estimate, a list of services to be provided and related documents.
Every inspection report that indicates that repairs are necessary must include this statement: “You may select any service provider, however work not performed by this company must be inspected by a PSMA/NOF certified inspector in order to verify satisfactory repairs and issue an updated inspection report.”
There are three exceptions to the above.
- When the system is to be pumped and the service provider is hired to excavate to the tank to gain access, the provider may at the time of service offer a quote to install an appropriate riser to enable easier access in the future.
- When, at the conclusion of a treatment tank pump-out, it is determined that one or more baffles is missing or their repair or replacement is necessary, the provider may offer a quote to install a new baffle or repair the damaged baffle(s) at the time of pump-out service. This will enable the work to be done without requiring a second tank pump-out.
- Identification of services and corresponding pricing to complete additional services necessary to complete the inspection process.
PSMA ETHICS COMPLAINT PROCEDURES
The Pennsylvania Septage Management Association (PSMA), through the National Onsite Foundation (NOF), prides itself for establishing the PSMA/NOF Standards of Practice to evaluate Private Waste disposal systems. The Standards have been described as the “Industry Standard” for onlot system inspection.
PSMA/NOF trains and certifies its members to perform onlot wastewater treatment system inspections using the PSMA/NOF Standards. The Standards embody a protocol which, when fully applied, evaluates every component of an onlot wastewater treatment system for proper function.
Upon completion of an inspection, the inspector will provide a written report with pertinent details and conclusions. The report conclusions are comprised of “Satisfactory”, “Satisfactory with concerns”, “More Investigation needed”, and “Unsatisfactory”. Individual opinions may also be reflected in an inspection report, however, the PSMA/NOF Standards of Practice does not acknowledge such opinions as they are only subjective and a business decision of the company or issuer.
PSMA expects all members to conduct their businesses in a manner that avoids any actual conflict of interest or the appearance of a conflict. Inspection reports indicating that repairs are necessary may provide a proposal separate from the report, but shall include the following statement:
“You may select any service provider; however, work not performed by this company must be inspected by a PSMA/NOF certified inspector in order to verify satisfactory repairs and issue an updated inspection report”.
Please keep in mind, that there is a difference between a PSMA/NOF inspection and a Regulatory inspection. You may read about the differences at this link “PSMA Inspections vs. Regulatory Inspections“.
PSMA has instituted a Complaint policy to assist any dissatisfaction by an individual who feels that a current PSMA/NOF certified inspector or company behaved in an unethical manner or performed an improper inspection.
PSMA does not acknowledge the use of the PSMA/NOF Standards of Practice by non-member companies or non-certified inspectors.
Prior to filing a complaint, you should confirm the following: (1) Is the inspection company a current PSMA member? and (2) Is the inspector a PSMA certified inspector; Is their certification current?
Once you have confirmed the inspector’s credentials, you must read the “Complaint Procedures” document and then fill out the “Complaint Form” properly for your complaint to be reviewed. You may obtain both of these at the following links:
The PSMA Board of Directors has adopted a procedure to implement when allegations are received about a PSMA Certified inspector’s performance or conclusions.
When a complaint is received, the President appoints a three member Ethics Committee. Committee members are selected from the PSMA Board of Directors. The selection process assures that committee members are not working in the market place/geographic area where the complaint is located.
Complaints concerning any PSMA certified inspector will be forwarded to the Ethics Committee for evaluation. Such complaints will be treated as confidential, and no information regarding same will be provided to any person except to the extent necessary to implement this procedure.
- The Ethics Committee will forward to the Complainant a copy of the PSMA Complaint form, requiring the form to be completed and signed by the Complainant before any further action on the Complaint is taken.
- Files dealing with Complaints will be segregated from other PSMA files, and secured in such way that access is limited to the Ethics Committee members, or those acting pursuant to their direction.
- A copy of the completed Complaint form will be provided to the person who is the subject of the Complaint, and that person will be invited to file a response to the Complaint’s allegations.
- After receiving the Complaint and the response, if any, the Ethics Committee will determine whether further investigation is warranted. Such further investigation could involve interviews with the persons involved, a site visit, or obtaining and reviewing additional documents.
- After completion of the investigation, the Ethics Committee will prepare its findings. A copy of the findings shall be sent to the inspector involved who will be given an opportunity to respond to the findings. Upon receipt of the response or thirty days following receipt of the findings by the inspector, the Ethics Committee shall consider the response, if any,, to the findings and adopt a final set of findings and a recommended course of action which shall be submitted to the Board of
- The Board, in closed session, will review and consider the findings and recommendations of the Ethics Committee and will take whatever action it deems appropriate. This action could involve a suspension or revocation of the inspector’s certification, or it could involve other remedial actions.
- Throughout the deliberations of the Ethics Committee and the Board, it will be presumed that the PSMA inspector involved acted appropriately unless reliable and convincing evidence to the contrary has been developed.
- The Board will communicate its findings and any action it decides to take to the inspector involved. If the Board elects to publish a summary of the action for the benefit of its members, the identity of the persons involved will not be disclosed in any such summary.
- Board Members, Staff Ethics Committee Members, and all those who have access to information involving the Complaint will keep the identity of the parties involved confidential and not reveal any information concerning the proceedings to any other person unless required by law to do so.