Audit, Compliance and Risk Blog

Chemical Safety Board issues Best Practice guidance for boards of directors to instill safety in their companies

Posted by Jon Elliott on Wed, Jun 17, 2020

The federal Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board – which usually refers to itself as the Chemical Safety Board or CSB – conducts independent investigations of major chemical accidents, issues accident-specific findings, and offers specific or general recommendations for improved chemical handling and regulation (I wrote about its first set of rules here). In May, CSB issued “Best Practice Guidance for Corporate Boards of Directors and Executives in the Offshore Oil and Gas Industry for Major Accident Prevention.” This Guidance represents CSB’s latest attempt to enhance organizational attention to safety culture issues.

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Tags: Health & Safety, AED, CSB, DOI, API, chemical safety, bsee, sasb

Remember OSHA’s workplace hygiene requirements

Posted by Jon Elliott on Wed, Jun 10, 2020

Employers considering how to protect their employees from coronavirus infections can look to a growing variety of general and specific guidance. I recently wrote about the latest coronavirus-specific guidance from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) (see HERE). 

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Tags: OSHA, EPA, clean water, CDC, Workplace hygiene, sanitation

Environmental Protection Agency issues administrative inspection rules

Posted by Jon Elliott on Wed, Jun 03, 2020

Effective March 2, 2020, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has issued rules governing the agency’s administrative civil inspection procedures (40 CFR s. 31.1). These new rules meet a requirement created by President Trump’s Executive Order (EO) 13892 (“Promoting the Rule of Law Through Transparency and Fairness in Civil Administrative Enforcement and Adjudication”), issued October 9, 2019 (I wrote about this EO HERE). The new rules apply to on-site civil inspections conducted by EPA personnel, and to federally credentialled contractors and Senior Environmental Employment (SEE) employees conducting inspections on EPA’s behalf; they do not apply to criminal investigations, nor to state and state-credentialled inspections.

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Tags: Business & Legal, Environmental risks, Environmental, EPA, clean water, clean air

Is that workplace COVID case work related? OSHA revises enforcement review of employer determinations

Posted by Jon Elliott on Wed, May 27, 2020

Effective May 26, 2020, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) revised its (interim) enforcement guidance for its inspectors and personnel use when investigating whether an employer properly classified a workplace illness involving COVID-19. This guidance expands and replaces the version OSHA issued on April 10 -- it does not affect the agency’s broader enforcement guidance for cases considering whether an employer unreasonably exposed employees to COVID-19 (which I wrote about here), although it’s easy to imagine scenarios where inspectors could be called upon to investigate both types of potential violations. OSHA states this guidance will remain effective until the present public health crisis ends, unless revised again.

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Tags: Health & Safety, OSHA, Coronavirus, Safety and Health at Work, Workplace hygiene, Covid-19

Coming out of the COVID-19 lockdown: Issues and challenges facing Canadian employers

Posted by BLG’s Labour and Employment Group on Mon, May 25, 2020

As Canadian employers begin to engage in the “re-opening” of the local economy, they face numerous legal and logistical challenges. Health and safety, privacy and human rights issues abound, and further uncharted waters lie ahead.

BLG’s Labour and Employment team provides a non-exhaustive list below of issues and challenges employers need to keep in mind.

Compliance with employee health and safety and public health requirements

Until effective vaccines and/or therapies for COVID-19 become available, employers will need to continue taking all reasonable steps to ensure that their workplaces are compliant with public health guidelines and requirements as well as their obligations to protect the health and safety of employees. Employers will need to remain current and proactively assess their workplaces, and make modifications in planning for the return of their employees. This will affect physical workspaces and require that employees are properly informed, equipped and monitored to ensure compliance.

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Tags: Business & Legal, Covid-19, Employment, Employment Law, Labour & Employment

Department of Justice Restricts Supplemental Environmental Project Agreements

Posted by Jon Elliott on Wed, May 20, 2020

Effective March 12, 2020, the US Department of Justice (DOJ) prohibits its US attorneys from entering into settlements in which DOJ lowers penalties for defendants that agree to conduct “supplemental environmental projects (SEPs)”, if the SEP involves payments to a third party. This action is the latest in a series of DOJ moves against SEPs since President Trump took office. The first such step was a June 2017 DOJ management memorandum directing US attorneys NOT to agree to SEPs that include payments to third parties (I wrote about that memo HERE). The second was an August 2019 memorandum restricting use of SEPs in Clean Water Act (CWA) cases against state and local governments, in which DOJ rejected arguments that recent legislation allows them (I wrote about that memo HERE).

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Tags: Business & Legal, Environmental risks, Environmental, EPA, clean water, clean air, DOJ, SEP, CWA, Environmental Projects

Dispute management during COVID-19: Moving from litigation to arbitration

Posted by BLG’s Commercial Arbitration Group  on Wed, May 13, 2020

The worldwide spread of the COVID-19 virus has affected commercial operations, logistics and finances across industry sectors. The social, health and economic uncertainty caused by the pandemic puts pressure on the limited resources and budgets of individuals and businesses alike. In such circumstances, we can expect the number of legal disputes to increase now and into the future.

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Tags: Business & Legal, commercial arbitration, disputes, Employment, Employment Law

NLRB Redefines “Joint Employer”

Posted by Jon Elliott on Wed, May 06, 2020

When someone receives occupational direction and/or compensation from more than one entity, who’s the boss? Sometimes it’s obviously one or the other, sometimes it’s not clear which one is, and sometimes the answer may be “both.” These unclear situations are fairly common; consider franchise operations where the franchisor exerts some controls over how the franchisee does business, workplaces where “temp agencies” supply workers who receive at least some directions from the host but get paid by the agency, and worksites where a prime contractor integrates services by subcontractors and their employees. Identifying the boss(es) has important implications, not just for who writes a paycheck but for who is subject to legal responsibilities and prohibitions.

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Tags: Business & Legal, Employer Best Practices, Employee Rights, NLRB

Supreme Court provides greater clarity about when discharges to groundwater require Clean Water Act permits

Posted by Jon Elliott on Wed, Apr 29, 2020

On April 23, a six-member majority of the United States Supreme Court issued a decision that narrows the uncertainty about when a discharge of water pollutants to groundwater may require a Clean Water Act (CWA) permit (County of Maui v. Hawaii Wildlife Fund). The decision directly vacates the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals decision it reviews, and effectively over-rules decisions by the Fourth and Sixth Circuits that differed with the Ninth Circuit but are also inconsistent with the Supreme Court’s new analysis. It also overturns guidance issued by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in 2019 categorically excluding discharges from point sources to groundwater from regulation under the CWA National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit program; EPA's policy applied nationwide except in those three judicial circuits.

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Tags: Business & Legal, EPA, CWA, Hawaii Wildlife Fund, County of Maui, NPDES, Supreme Court, Groundwater discharge, water pollutants

OSHA issues interim enforcement procedures for COVID-19 cases

Posted by Jon Elliott on Wed, Apr 22, 2020

I wrote recently about guidance from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to help employers protect their workers against COVID-19 (coronavirus) infection. (see HERE). 

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Tags: OSHA, Coronavirus, CDC, Covid-19, Compliance Safety