Last December, representatives of 195 countries agreed to continue to expand global efforts to combat climate change. The new Paris Agreement breaks a longstanding impasse with a clever mixture of multinational agreements and agreements-to-agree. I summarized its provisions (and the history of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (Framework Convention) it modifies) here.Read More
Audit, Compliance and Risk Blog
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requires most employers to prepare and maintain records of occupational injuries and illnesses as they occur (I&I Logs). OSHA also requires employers to post an annual I&I Summary in each “establishment” within their workplaces by February 1, summarizing that workplace’s I&Is during the previous calendar year. Delegated state-run programs impose comparable requirements. (I summarized these requirements here). Most of this information remains with employers and their employees, so it never gets used for analyses of workplace trends or to help OSHA evaluate areas where additional regulations might be most helpful.
The long awaited ISO 14001: 2015 standard is here. The 2015 standard follows a new format and requires organizations to redefine some key planning and implementation aspects of their environmental management system.Read More
Most of the laws and regulations discussed in these blogs exist to ensure proper management of hazardous chemicals and products, in ways designed to minimize environmental and human exposures. Pesticide management provides important variations on these themes, since pesticides are used for the very purpose of killing targeted organisms in the environment … and are regulated to target those uses to protect humans and other non-target species. Within the United States, the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) provides the national framework for regulation of pesticides, including registration of active ingredients and mixtures, licensing of applicators, and requirements for the application and use of these hazardous materials. FIFRA provides the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) with overall responsibility, although different elements of pesticide regulation are subject to different balances of federal (EPA) and state control.Read More
Every place on Earth has at least a little radioactivity. It is found in bodies, food (not just in industrially irradiated food), the ground, and in many consumer products. The sun and outer space are sources of radiation. Radioactive materials prevalent in nature, such as those present in soils and rock formations and in the water that comes into contact with them, are called naturally occurring radioactive materials, or NORM. NORM typically does not present a problem to human health or the environment, as the radiation levels are very small, and there is generally not an exposure pathway. However, NORM can become concentrated as the result of certain human activities that also expose people and the environment to radiation hazards. Over time, this collection of individual concentrations/exposures has come to be regarded as part of a single, larger, and more complex problem—radiation contamination—referred to as TENORM (tee-norm).
The first significant outbreak of the mosquito-borne zika virus in the Americas was announced in Brazil in May 2015. Public health officials in the United States began to prepare responses, and have accelerated efforts in reaction to reports that the virus is spreading into U.S. territories, beginning with Puerto Rico and Florida and expanding northward. Late in April, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) entered the fray, by issuing joint “Interim Guidance for Protecting Workers from Occupational Exposure to Zika Virus.” The rest of this note summarizes that Guidance.Read More
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requires employers to protect their employees against possible exposure to “bloodborne pathogens (BBPs).” OSHA’s Bloodborne Pathogen Standard prescribes protections for workers occupationally exposed to blood or other potentially infectious materials (OPIM). Healthcare workers are the most obvious beneficiaries, but emergency responders and others may also be regularly at risk to these exposures.Read More
If you are an employer and are considering using suspension as a disciplinary measure, be aware that the Supreme Court of Canada has indicated that employers do not have unfettered authority to withhold work from their employees and that legitimate business reasons must be shown in the context of any administrative suspension. Absent such reasons, an administrative suspension—even with pay—may be found to be a constructive dismissal.Read More
When it comes to hospitals we all expect the highest standard of cleanliness and yet, we want every part of our lives to be more sustainable. Of course, when hospitals are faced with a choice that puts hygiene up against sustainability, hygiene always wins. But I wonder if it’s possible to find ways for both to win?Read More
The Clean Water Act’s (CWA’s) national water quality purview includes National Pollutant Discharge Elimination system (NPDES) provisions for “stormwater” that may contain pollutants such as oil, industrial contaminants, and sediment. This means run-off of rain or snow melt containing pollutants from manufacturing, processing, or raw material storage areas at an industrial site, that passes through a “conveyance” (such as a storm drain) into waters of the United States. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) administers or delegates permit programs covering discharges from the following:Read More