Audit, Compliance and Risk Blog

Protecting against workplace violence during COVID

Posted by Jon Elliott on Tue, Nov 17, 2020

During the COIVD-19 pandemic, there have been many reports of angry arguments between people who don’t want to wear masks or practice social distance and retail staff members trying to enforce local requirements. Some of these confrontations escalate to violence. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) provide formal guidelines to retail businesses, offering ways for protecting workers by “Limiting Workplace Violence Associated with COVID-19 Prevention Policies in Retail and Services Businesses.” The remainder of this note describes CDC’s latest guidance. 

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Tags: Health & Safety, OSHA, Workplace violence, Coronavirus, CDC, Covid-19, CCOHS

Chemical Safety Board issues review of combustible dust hazards and management

Posted by Jon Elliott on Tue, Nov 10, 2020

The federal Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board – which usually refers to itself as the Chemical Safety Board or CSB -- has issued guidance on the hazards of explosive and combustible dust. The report is intended to identify the key barriers to improvement in the control and mitigation of combustible dust hazards. The report was developed by a contractor to CSB, after a fatal 2017 dust explosion at the Didion Milling facility in Cambria, Wisconsin. In October 2018, CSB issued a “Call to Action” to gather comments on the management, control and understanding of combustible dust (which I wrote about HERE). The objective of this project was to make sense of comments submitted in response to the Call to Action. CSB ultimately received 57 responses, which its contractor reviewed and supplemented with additional research. 

 

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Tags: Health & Safety, OSHA, CSB, chemical safety, NFPA

EPA revises regulatory methodology for determining whether source modifications trigger “new” source review

Posted by Jon Elliott on Mon, Nov 02, 2020

When are changes to an existing system so extensive that they produce a “new” system? This question is conceptually important in any evolving organization, and can have important regulatory consequences if requirements for “existing” systems are substantially different than those for “new” systems. Emissions regulations under the Clean Air Act (CAA) contain many such situations, and on October 22 the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) adopted changes to the “project emissions accounting” it uses to decide whether modifications to an existing major source are so extensive as to trigger preconstruction New Source Review (NSR) requirements. This revision codifies into regulations a policy changed announced in 2018.

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Tags: EPA, CAA, Environment, PSD, NSR

Study compares environmental enforcement during Trump administration with predecessors

Posted by Jon Elliott on Wed, Oct 28, 2020

I’ve written numerous times in this space about specific efforts by the Trump administration to reduce environmental regulation and enforcement. A new study from the University of Michigan Law School quantifies reductions in the administration’s criminal enforcement levels. The report is part of the school’s “Environmental Crimes Project,” and includes the first two years of the Trump Administration as the latest in a 14-year series of federal environmental enforcement data. Readers should note that federal criminal environmental enforcement is brought by the US Department of Justice (DOJ) on behalf of the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA); EPA and delegated state agencies bring their own civil cases, and most state criminal enforcement is brought by state prosecutors on behalf of state regulatory agencies (I summarized agency enforcement in the first year of the Trump administration HERE).

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Tags: OSHA, EPA, RCRA, CAA, DOJ, CWA, Environment, ESA, SWMA

Environmental policy: what are the Democrats promising

Posted by Jon Elliott on Tue, Oct 20, 2020

As the 2020 Presidential election approaches its close, both major parties’ major environmental proposals have been formalized. As the incumbent party, the Republican National Committee decided not to adopt a formal election platform, and instead adopted a resolution promising continuity, the most substantive provision of which is “That the Republican Party has and will continue to enthusiastically support the President’s America-first agenda.” (I summarized candidate Trump’s 2016 proposals HERE, and have written dozens of blogs summarizing specific actions since that election).
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Tags: climate change, Environment, Clean Air Act, Republican Party, 2020 US Presidential election, Clean Energy, Democratic Party

British Columbia Supreme Court Finds Human Rights and Workers Comp Claims are not Mutually Exclusive

Posted by Jon Elliott on Tue, Oct 13, 2020

A variety of laws and regulations each prohibit sexual harassment in workplaces. These include:

· Human rights laws prohibit employers from committing or condoning discrimination, including sex discrimination which includes sexual harassment.

· General labour statutes find that harassment can alter terms of employment and even trigger constructive dismissal.

· Occupational health and safety laws protect workers from workplace hazards, which increasingly including bullying and harassment.

· Workers compensation laws provide an insurance system to compensate workers for occupational injuries and illness.

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Tags: Employee Rights, Discrimination, BC Human Rights Tribunal, Sexual Harassment, BC Human Rights Code

Trump administration guidelines for easing enforcement

Posted by Jon Elliott on Tue, Oct 06, 2020

During 2020, the Trump Administration has seized on the economic disruptions from the COVID-19 pandemic as the latest of its many rationales for easing environmental regulations. In May, the President issued an executive order (EO) directing agencies to “support the economic response to the COVID–19 outbreak” (EO 13924 “Regulatory Relief To Support Economic Recovery”; I discussed it HERE). That EO included directions to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to receive reports from individual federal agencies about their regulatory and enforcement responses, and authorized OMB to issue guidance. On August 31, 2020, OMB issued a “Memorandum for the Deputy Secretaries of Executive Departments and Agencies – Implementation of Section 6 of Executive Order 13924” (Memorandum M-20-31; called “the Memo” below) offering this guidance. 

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Tags: Health & Safety, Coronavirus, Covid-19, OMB, Executive Order, Memorandum M-20-31, Economy, Administration Guidelines, EO 13924

Cleaning up after wildfires

Posted by Jon Elliott on Tue, Sep 29, 2020

Western North America is suffering from huge wildfires this year. I’ve written pieces discussing ways to protect workplaces from fire (HERE) and to protect workers during wildfires (HERE). Today’s note discusses worker safety during cleanup after wildfires. I synthesize guidance from the US Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), California EPA (CalEPA), and the California Department of Public Health (CDPH).

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Tags: OSHA, EPA, CDC, workplace safety, Wildfire, Cal-Fire, California, CalEPA, CDPH

CERB and EI changes: What employers and workers need to know

Posted by BLG’s Labour and Employment Group on Tue, Sep 22, 2020

On August 20, 2020, the federal government announced its transition from the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) to a simplified Employment Insurance (EI) program to provide income support to those unable to work due to COVID-19.

In addition to simplifying access to EI, the government will introduce three new temporary recovery benefits: the Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit, the Canada Recovery Caregiving Benefit and the Canada Recovery Benefit.

Subject to parliamentary approval, these programs will be effective starting September 27 and available for one year.

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Tags: Business & Legal, Employee Rights, Covid-19, Employment Law, Labour & Employment, Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit, Canada Emergency Response Benefit, Employment Insurance, Canada Recovery Caregiving Benefit

California regulates Air Toxics “Hot Spots”

Posted by Jon Elliott on Tue, Sep 15, 2020

In 1987, California adopted the Air Toxics “Hot Spots” Information and Assessment Act, responding to increasing concern over toxics in the air (AB 2588 (Connelly, Sterling)).  This law complements California’s enforcement of national requirements governing stationary source emissions of air toxics. The federal Clean Air Act (CAA) required the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to establish and maintain a list of air toxics, named as Hazardous Air Pollutants (HAPs), and to set emissions standards (National Emissions Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants (NESHAPs) for many HAP emission sources; California incorporates HAP/NESHAP requirements into the state’s Toxic Air Contaminant (TAC) / Airborne Toxic Control Measure (ATCM) program. (I discussed these requirements HERE).

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Tags: OSHA, CAA, Cal/OSHA, California, Air Toxics, NESHAPs, TAC, ATCM, Hot Spots Act, OEHHA, BAAQMD, HAPs, ARB