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Audit, Compliance and Risk Blog

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Are Your Workers Out In The Cold?

Although it’s been in the 70’s here in California, employers in most parts of the continent should be worrying about protecting workers against the extremely cold weather. Occupational safety and health regulators include “environmental” hazards as those that may require employers to provide their employees with personal protective equipment (PPE), and employers also bear a “general duty” to protect workers against recognized hazards. These requirements cover potential harm from extreme temperatures including cold. The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) PPE standards address cold, and U.S. and Canadian guidelines apply general worker protection principles to "cold stress" hazards.

Canada’s WHMIS System Is Changing

By  Kristen Brewer & Fergus McDonnell, Fasken Martineau DuMoulin LLP

Have You Completed Your Hazardous Materials Management Plan?

A wide variety of federal, state and even local laws apply environmental, health and safety (EH&S) protection requirements to chemicals. EH&S compliance personnel are accustomed to complying with chemical management requirements imposed by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), and their state equivalents.

Expanding Recycling Responsibilities for Specific Solid Wastes

Adopted half a century ago, the Solid Waste Disposal Act (SWDA) of 1965 is one of the first federal statutes in the modern era of environmental protection. SWDA focused originally on worries that a “landfill crisis” combined predictions that landfills would soon be too full to provide disposal capacity, and longstanding concerns that poorly designed municipal and industrial landfills might not protect public health. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has applied SWDA authority to adopt landfill standards, which are administered by state and local governments nationwide.

New EPA Rules For Recycling Of Selected Hazardous Wastes

The Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) and its state counterparts provide requirements to govern hazardous wastes during every step of their management, from “cradle to grave.” Although these rules are intended to improve management and provide incentives for recycling and other beneficial uses of hazardous wastes, many organizations find many of the rules unnecessarily onerous – and therefore potentially counterproductive if they actually discourage beneficial activities. In addition, over time changes in technologies, commercial activities and regulatory priorities reveal gaps in existing rules. In January, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) revised its “Definition of Solid Waste” rules governing a number of potentially hazardous wastes that it instead considers to be “hazardous secondary materials”, and the range of recycling and recovery activities eligible for special regulatory considerations. The revisions become effective on July 13, 2015.

California Law Requires Long-Life Batteries in Smoke Detectors

How many times have you popped the batteries out of those old smoke detectors when the alarm blasted over burnt toast…and then failed to put the batteries back in? Or how about not replacing the batteries when they die or checking to see if the alarm is still in working order? Is there even a smoke detector in the house?

Department of Labor Proposes More Anti-Discrimination Rules For Federal Contractors

On January 30, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) published a proposal to revise its requirements for covered Federal Government contractors and subcontractors, including federally assisted construction contractors and subcontractors. This proposal would implement provisions in Executive Order (EO) Number 13672, which President Obama issued on July 21, 2014 (I blogged about the E.O. here). These revisions expand anti-discrimination responsibilities of federal contractors and federal grant recipients, to cover “sexual orientation” and “gender identity.” Once implemented, employment practices in these workplaces will match private employers’ responsibilities under a growing number of state laws, and under some federal court cases interpreting Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VII).

Composting in a Condo

Being a good citizen and composting food scraps really isn’t that hard if you live in a house. But what if you live in a condo? You might think it isn’t possible (or maybe you even think it isn’t worth it) to do your part and compost your organic wastes. Let me show you how to do it and why it’s worth it.

Complying With Medical Waste Management Requirements

How do you have to manage waste biological materials generated by your activities—maybe from agricultural or biotech production, or maybe from your onsite clinic or the healthcare facility you run? Worker safety and transportation rules will apply to handling, and environmental protection rules to releases and disposal. But the main regulatory focus is provided by waste management requirements.

Congress Updates Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Standards

In 2007, Congress added a provision to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) budget, directing DHS to create a program to identify chemicals that might be tempting targets for terrorists, and to require facility that handle sufficiently large quantities of these chemicals of interest to establish security programs subject to DHS oversight (“Section 550”). DHS responded to Section 550 by issuing Chemical Facility Anti-terrorism Standards (CFATS) rules, requiring compliance to begin in 2008.

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