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What is WERCS?

Published January 1, 2019

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WERCS stands for Worldwide Environmental Regulatory Compliance Solutions and is a division of Underwriters Laboratories (UL). Retailers who sell, transport, store or dispose of your products face challenges in complying with increasingly complex federal, state and local regulations with their steep fines for noncompliance. Safety Data Sheets (SDS) simply don’t contain enough information.

WERCS bridges the gap between manufacturers, regulators and retailers. It collects the information you submit, tracks and matches it to various regulatory needs and other critical parameters, then creates and electronically transmits a wide variety of data sheets to retailers. Typically, there’s a 2-business-day turnaround once WERCS has everything it needs from you.

Unfortunately, only the manufacturer can provide the data needed for WERCS. Petra can only act as an advisor through the process.

Many products require WERCS certification. If your product contains any of the items below, it will require WERCS due to its chemical makeup:

  • Does the item contain mercury (ex. fluorescent light bulb, HVAC, switch, thermostat)?
  • Is the item a chemical/solvent or contain a chemical/solvent?
  • Is the item a pesticide or contain a pesticide, herbicide or fungicide?
  • Is the item an aerosol or contain an aerosol?
  • Is the item or does the item contain a battery (lithium, alkaline, lead-acid, etc.)?
  • Is the item or does the item contain compressed gas?
  • Is the item a liquid or contain a liquid (this does not include appliances or heaters that contain totally enclosed liquids)?
  • Does this product contain electronic equipment (circuit board, computer chip, copper wiring or other electronic components)?

If your product is defined by OSHA under 29 CFR 1910.1200(c) then it may not need to be WERCS certified. But ultimately, that decision rests with each retailer, as each has different requirements. For example, walmart.com does not require copper registration but homedepot.com does.

WERCS reports that are generated for retailers may include:

  • Disposal Data—Disposal coding
  • Waste Data—RCRA codes/State/Municipality
  • Return Guidance—Shipping restrictions, Where to return
  • Storage Data—Uniform fire code/NFPA
  • Environmental Data—EPA/TSCA/SARA/VOC %/weight
  • Regulatory Data—CalProp 65 Carcinogenic, Mutagenic, Reproductive, Endocrine disruptor
  • Product Restrictions—EPA, VOC, Prohibited uses, State-banned substances
  • Transportation Data—Air, water, rail, road, international
  • Restriction Information—EPA, retailer specific (chemicals of concern), prohibited uses, international classification, EU – CLP, Canada WHMI, VOC
  • Complete, Globally Compliant (M)SDS—database to house the (M)SDSs online search for (M)SDS viewing/exporting
  • One-Page Safety Summary
  • Sustainability Data

Over 35 retailers, such as Walmart and The Home Depot, demand WERCS certifications before they will sell your products. Many other major retailers like Bed, Bath and Beyond, Costco, CVS, Lowes, Office Depot, Staples and Target are following suit. Like California Prop 65 determination and labeling, WERCS certification is inevitable and is now considered part of the cost of doing business.

WERCS certification is fee-based. The portal can be found here: www.wercsmart.com.
The step-by-step registration process is easy for vendors to follow.

Why does a retail company require WERCS?

Retailers are being held accountable for the products they sell. And they are fined if something isn’t right. If a retailer determines your products have been deemed “potentially hazardous,” they filter into either a Vendor Hazmat or Data Quality Hazmat workflow. Here’s the perspective from The Home Depot:

WERCS provides The Home Depot with classification data for: transportation, maritime, waste, fire, and storage of the reviewed products. This review provides us with consistent Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDSs) and accurate safety information at store level for our customers and associates. It also allows our company to improve our environmental sustainability efforts and help to ensure compliance with all applicable laws and regulations.”

If a retailer deems your product needs WERCS certification to be sold, you’ll need to go through the processes outlined. However, if your product is already WERCS certified then congratulations—you’re one step closer to your goal!

If you are new to WERCS, please watch the following video:

If your item is already WERCS certified, please follow these steps:

  1. Log into your WERCSmart account.
  2. From the Home Page, select BULK ACTIONS.
  3. Select Forward Product Registration.
  4. Select the retailer from the list.
  5. Locate the Product (use the Product Name or ID from WERCSmart).
  6. Select the existing UPCs (Uniform Product Codes) to provide to the new retailer, or you may add more UPCs.
  7. Finalize the process.
  8. Submit order!

If your products are being submitted to homedepot.com:

  • The OMSID and UPC MUST be entered into WERCSmart.
  • The OMSID and UPC that is entered into WERCSmart MUST match IDM. Otherwise, your items will be delayed.
  • After your items have been submitted from WERCSmart, they should be removed from the IDM Hazmat workflow, such as Data Quality, within 24 to 48 hours.
  • IMPORTANT NOTE 1: Fees will apply for new items that have a UPC that has not been registered with WERCSmart.
  • IMPORTANT NOTE 2: If the UPC has already been registered with WERCSmart, you will not have to pay another fee; HOWEVER, you MUST register the product with WERCSmart, using the unique OMSID associated UPC. After the duplicate UPC and unique OMSID have been successfully registered in WERCSmart, submit a ticket in IDM and provide the OMSID & UPC so that our internal team can clear the item from the Hazmat workflow.

If your products are being submitted to walmart.com:

  • The Petra Walmart team sends Petra’s Director of Regional Sales for Walmart the items that require WERCS, based on WERCS flags in the walmart.com setup sheet.
  • The director then reaches out to the vendor to have WERCS completed.
  • The vendor then processes a WERCS registration in the WERCSmart portal by UPC by accessing the link in the walmart.com email template detailed below.
  • WERCS will send back a UPC code report with a WPS ID by UPC once the item clears WERCS.
  • The WPS ID is automatically sent to walmart.com by UPC for release from WERCS hold via EDI (Electronic Data Interchange) once the submission has been processed. In cases where the auto release does not happen, Petra will send the WPS ID to walmart.com—but this is rare.

WERCS Example Email Template from walmart.com Compliance:

The items below have been identified by the walmart.com Item Setup Compliance Team as needing a WERCS assessment. Without a completed WERCS assessment, your items will not complete setup and will not be orderable or sellable on walmart.com.

If you haven’t completed WERCS for your items, please complete it via the WERCS Portal: https://secure.supplierwercs.com

If the manufacturer is entering the WERCS assessments for your company, the following information must be tied to the GTIN in order for the assessment to feed to Walmart’s systems.

  • The Vendor Name
  • The 6-Digit Vendor ID
  • The Item GTIN
  • Walmart must be listed as a retailer

If you have any WERCS-related questions, please use the Support button at the top of the WERCS website after logging in or call 518-720-6220.

Please let Petra know if you do not plan on completing a WERCS assessment for these items, and we will have them deleted from setup.

NOTE: If your items are pending WERCS assessments for greater than 30 days, they risk the chance of being deleted from Petra’s system.

WERCSmart FAQs link:

https://wercsmart.freshdesk.com/en/support/solutions/25000007670

Registering in WERCSmart an electronic product demo:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iugclYHuDAw&feature=youtu.be

Registering in WERCSmart an item with a VOC:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XjsxPIN-oDY&feature=youtu.be

Registering in WERCSmart an item with a battery:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XqAOlTQ-ry4&feature=youtu.be

WERCS status explanations:

Not Yet Submitted

You’ve started creating a registration in your WERCSmart account and are still working on it. You’ve named the registration to coincide with the product’s labeling or documentation and have made the Product Name specific enough so that people know what it is but haven’t gotten too detailed with “counts” or “packs.” As long as the data you enter applies to several UPCs, that’s one single WERCSmart registration.

Assessment in Progress

You’ve entered all the required information in the registration and you’ve sent the registration data to WERCSmart’s Regulatory Assessment Team. They’re looking over the data, running calculations and ensuring any documents you’ve provided, such as a Safety Data Sheet (SDS) are compliant with the regulations (i.e. OSHA).

Needs Your Attention

During the assessment process, a discrepancy may be noted with the data provided, or the data provided isn’t providing the expected output when calculations are applied. Many times, these issues can be addressed with a simple update to the data, such as flash point. If a product is in this status, you likely have a corresponding alert, or Message, which outlines the issue or question and provides some guidance on how to fix it. You can edit the data and resubmit it to the Assessment team.

Sending to Retailers

The assessment data is finalized by the Regulatory Assessment Team and the assessment report that is used by the retailers is ready to go! The retailer’s data transfer occurs at varying times throughout the day and is based on the retailer’s requirement. Most retailers receive a data transfer of WERCSmart Assessments once per day, typically in the evening hours, so their internal systems are updated overnight (U.S.). Exceptions to the daily data transfer are:

  • Walmart and Affiliates
  • Sears Corporation/K-Mart
  • The Home Depot

These retailers have an hourly data transfer.

Accepted by Retailers

It’s done! Assessments, generated from your product registration data, have been received by the recipient/retailer! Once your registration indicator shows green, you’re “good to go” and do other things with the registration, such as add more UPCs, send the same registration to additional retailers (known as Forwarding) and more! You can also update the data in the future and resubmit it for a revised assessment.

“Why does the product change from Accepted by Retailers to Sending to Retailers? I thought I was done!”

Occasionally, the WERCSmart team re-sends assessment data to the recipients, to ensure the most current information has been provided. Also, there are times the recipients (or retailers) request that an assessment be resent to them. It’s just cycling through again, ensuring the data is always at its most accurate!