Follow Me

Subscribe by Email

Your email:

Audit, Compliance and Risk Blog

Current Articles | RSS Feed RSS Feed

OSHA: Major Hazcom Revisions Due By June 1, 2015

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) adopted massive changes to its Hazard Communication Standard (HCS or Hazcom) effective May 25, 2012, updating chemical information, labeling and training requirements that had been in place since the 1980s. These revised requirements conform U.S. requirements to international guidelines under the U.N.-sponsored Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals (GHS). Recognizing the extent of these changes, OSHA provided multi-year compliance phase-ins for employers whose workers manufacture, distribute or use chemicals. The next such deadline is June 1, 2015, when Safety Data Sheets (SDSs) must replace Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDSs) and end-user employers must ensure that their Hazcom programs reflect most of the revised requirements.

Superfund…A Personal Perspective

Two and a half decades ago, I left my home in Austin, Texas, armed with a BS in Civil Engineering from the University of Texas at Austin with an emphasis in water resources and environmental pollution control, and moved out to Los Angeles, California. My job as a young engineer was to be part of the Los Angeles Department of Water and Powers (LADWP) Superfund Group, a team in charge of assessing and cleaning up four federal Superfund sites in the San Fernando Valley (SVF) of southern California. Having taken Environmental Engineering 101 (“dilution is NOT the solution to pollution”), as well as classes in waste and hazardous waste management, hydrogeology, and many others, I felt ready to tackle the Superfund world…but what was it really?

California Sets Tighter Greenhouse Gas Emission Goals

As global attention to climate change and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions has grown over the past two decades, California has been one of the leading jurisdictions. This began with statewide planning efforts in the 1990s, designed to identify and quantify GHG emissions. After the turn of the millennium it expanded to significant control requirements imposed on targeted source categories—notably a 2002 law (AB 1493) requiring the world’s first GHG emission limits on motor vehicles.

OSHA: Earthquake Preparedness

Last weekend’s disastrous earthquakes in Nepal are a reminder that natural disasters can strike anywhere. Employers can and should plan for a broad range of events, and can apply guidance from occupational safety and health agencies standards when doing so. The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requires employers with specified activities to prepare and implement emergency action plans (EAPs), provides guidance for EAPs, and recommends that all employers prepare these plans. Employers can use this structure to prepare for earthquakes.

B.C. Court Rejects Director’s Plea That Manager Was Responsible For Environmental Damage

The founder and principal of Northland Properties Corp. (“Northland”), Bob Gaglardi and his son, Tom Gaglardi, the president of Northland were found guilty, along with Northland, of two counts of “unlawfully carrying on a work or undertaking that resulted in the harmful alteration, disruption or destruction of fish habitat along the foreshore of Kamloops Lake” contrary to the federal Fisheries Act (R. v. Northland Properties Corp., 2014 BCPC 251 (BC Prov. Ct.). The charges related to land clearing and placing of fill on seven of Northland’s properties. The Crown alleged the work was performed unlawfully by Northland’s servants and under the direction of the Gaglardis. Both Northland and Tom Gaglardi denied they intended to cause the resulting damage to fish habitat, pleading that “the project supervisor for the work, Jim Parks, exceeded the directions he had been given on the project regarding landscaping.” They did admit that they had failed to be duly diligent in supervising the project, resulting in the damage to the fish habitat. Bob Gaglardi pleaded he was only briefly and peripherally involved in the project and thus, was not guilty. The Court held that there was sufficient reasonable doubt to acquit him on the charges.

NIOSH Expands Recommendations for Tobacco-Free Workplaces and e-Cigarettes

As most readers know, employers have very broad responsibilities to provide their employees with a workplace that is “free from recognized hazards.” To meet this Employer’s General Duty, employers must do more than just identify and comply with applicable safety standards issued by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and its equivalent (I discussed this general provision here). Employers also must take other – unspecified – steps to identify and “recognize” unregulated hazards. One important version of these steps is to watch for non-binding recommendations from OSHA, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), and other credible organizations in industry, government and academia,

Obama Expands Federal Agencies’ Responsibilities for Sustainability

Recent U.S. Presidents have issued a series of executive orders (EOs) that steadily expand federal agencies’ responsibilities to conduct their own activities in environmentally sound ways. President Clinton issued a number of EOs during 1993-1999 as part of “Greening the Government,” which were expanded upon and superseded by President George W. Bush’s 2007 EO Number 13423 “Strengthening Federal Environmental, Energy, and Transportation Management.” Since taking office, President Obama has continued these expansions. Last month, he issued EO Number 13693 to require “Planning for Federal Sustainability in the Next Decade.” This EO also revokes a number of President Obama’s own relevant EOs, and President Bush’s EO Number 13423.

California Water Crisis = Rising Consumer Costs for a Vanishing Resource

Although water covers nearly three-quarters of the earth’s surface, only 0.033 percent of the world’s total supply is fresh water available for human use. Water is essential to every form of life, but is often taken for granted by consumers, who generally have maintained an attitude that plentiful water of the highest quality will always be available and is their right, a notion perpetuated by legislation. In 2013 the State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB) established, under Section 106.3 of the California Water Code, that every human being has the inherent right to clean, safe, affordable, accessible, and adequate water for human consumption, cooking, and sanitation. That’s wonderful…when there is plenty of water to go around.

New Rules for Fracking on Federal Lands

Although the pace of fracking projects rises and falls with changes in oil prices, regulation of fracking develops at slower and steadier rates. This month, the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has completed nearly five years of rulemaking by revising its rules for oil and gas production from federal and Indian lands, to add requirements for hydraulic fracturing projects. These rules update and expand drilling permit rules in place for three decades. BLM reports that production from over 100,000 onshore oil and gas wells on federally-managed land accounts for 11 percent of U.S. natural gas supply and five percent of its oil, and that over 90% of wells currently being drilled on these land involve hydraulic fracturing.

Brushing Off Wasteful Packaging

Ever felt guilty about how you can’t recycle the plastic of a toothpaste tube and then considered how everyone you know uses them and throws them away? Ladies, have you ever thought about how many years your lip balm or lipstick container will remain on the earth after you are done with it? Environmental packaging options for these items has been stagnant (or non-existent, in fact) for quite some time, but I am happy to say that there are options out there and you just have to know where to look.

All Posts