Audit, Compliance and Risk Blog

California’s New Cleaning Products Right to Know Act – A First Look

Posted by Jon Elliott on Tue, Jan 16, 2018

Does your employer’s Hazard Communication program pay attention to cleaning agents used in the workplace – bleaches, disinfectants, glass cleaners, etc? If it does more than mention their existence and note that they’re probably corrosive and maybe toxic, you’re almost certainly in the minority. In most workplaces, workers who use cleaners are exposed to undisclosed or unexplained chemical hazards. And even if your organization’s employees do receive this information, does your employer contract out janitorial and other service work without ensuring that those night janitors are fully trained and protected?

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Tags: Business & Legal, Employer Best Practices, Employee Rights, Environmental risks, Environmental, Hazcom

You May Be Getting More Labeling Information Soon

Posted by Jon Elliott on Tue, Oct 03, 2017

One of California’s longstanding amplifications of national environmental health and safety (EH&S) programs is provided by “Proposition 65.” I summarized these provisions here. As I described, the main thrust of this 1986 state enactment is to provide warnings about potentially hazardous chemicals, to customers, workers, and other “potentially exposed individuals." Prop 65 provides sample texts for warnings, including “safe harbor” text for product labels and in-store signage. After 30 years, the state is revising these safe harbors to be more informative. Revised safe harbor text became available for use August 30, 2016 and replace their expiring predecessors on August 30, 2018. Since we’re half way through this two year transition, it’s a good time to review.

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Tags: Health & Safety, OSHA, California Legislation, Environmental risks, Environmental, Hazcom

What’s In Your Janitor’s Closet? New York Seeks More Information

Posted by Jon Elliott on Tue, Aug 22, 2017

Even workplaces with very limited chemical use probably use cleaning supplies. If these supplies are bought in typical retail packaging intended for consumer use, the employer and employees may lack ready access to chemical content information beyond that on the labels. That’s because the Hazard Communication Standard (Hazcom) administered by the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) exempts consumer products in their final form for consumer use, unless worker use is greater than that by typical consumers.

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Tags: Health & Safety, OSHA, California Legislation, Environmental risks, Environmental, EHS, Hazcom

EPA’s “Back-to-Basics” Agenda

Posted by Jon Elliott on Tue, May 09, 2017

EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt has been on a tour to publicize his efforts to get EPA “back-to-basics.” He launched the tour with a visit to a Pennsylvania coal mine in April. The agency issued a press release about that visit, which also summarized its “Back-to-Basics Agenda.” The press release summarizes the Agenda as “Protecting the environment; engaging with state, local and tribal partners; and creating sensible regulations that enhance economic growth.” The Agenda provides a convenient rhetorical framework for the new Administrator’s efforts to re-boot EPA’s activities.

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Tags: Environmental risks, Environmental, EPA, Greenhouse Gas, ghg, Hazcom, Oil & Gas, climate change, tsca, clean water

Trump Proposes To De-Fund Chemical Safety Board

Posted by Jon Elliott on Tue, Apr 18, 2017

On March 16, President Trump released his initial budget proposal for the 2018 federal Fiscal Year. Among its many provisions is a proposal to zero out budgeting for the Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board (more often referred to as the Chemical Safety Board or CSB).

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Tags: Environmental risks, Environmental, EPA, Hazcom

President Trump Orders Review of “Waters of the United States”

Posted by Jon Elliott on Tue, Apr 11, 2017

On February 28, President Trump issued Executive Order (EO) Number 13778, ordering the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) to review their current regulatory definitions of “waters of the United States” – sometimes called “navigable waters.” (I blogged about this definition here). The EO strongly points toward a narrower definition that would reduce the agencies’ jurisdiction, reversing rules issued in 2015 during President Obama’s administration.

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Tags: Environmental risks, Environmental, EPA, Hazcom, effluent, clean water

EPA Revises Accidental Release Prevention Requirements

Posted by Jon Elliott on Tue, Mar 28, 2017

Efforts to prevent and respond to chemical disasters are undergoing their first thorough review since many were created decades ago after December 1984’s catastrophe in Bhopal, India. President Obama triggered these reviews in August 2013, when he issued an Executive Order directing federal regulatory agencies to review specified regulatory programs that are designed to prevent such disasters: Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) Chemical Process Safety Management Standard (PSM); Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Accidental Release Prevention (ARP) program and Emergency Planning and Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA) program; and Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Standards (CFATS) program (I blogged about the EO here). EPA proposed ARP revisions in March 2016 (I blogged about them here), and adopted final revisions on January 13, 2017.

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Tags: Environmental risks, Environmental, EPA, Hazcom

EPA Revises Hazardous Waste Generator Requirements – Part 2 (Separate Summaries For Generator Categories)

Posted by Jon Elliott on Tue, Feb 21, 2017

In November, EPA published substantial regulatory revisions (which EPA entitles collectively as the Hazardous Waste Generator Improvements Rule). The revisions are scheduled to become effective on May 30, 2017. In Part 1 of this pair of blogs (click here), I summarized the principal revisions. In this Part 2 I re-compile the changes applicable to different categories of generators:

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Tags: Environmental risks, Environmental, EPA, Hazcom

EPA Revises Hazardous Waste Generator Requirements – Part 1

Posted by Jon Elliott on Thu, Feb 16, 2017

In November, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) published substantial revisions to its hazardous waste regulations, which it entitles the “Hazardous Waste Generator Improvements Rule (HWGIR).” These include more than 60 changes to specific requirements, plus dozens of technical clarifications and corrections. Some requirements apply to nearly all generators, while others are targeted at one or more of three volume-based tiers. EPA has scheduled the revisions to take effect on May 30, 2017 – but it’s possible that some provisions will be reviewed and revised by the incoming Trump Administration before that date.

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Tags: Environmental risks, Environmental, EHS, EPA, Hazcom

EPA Adds Subsurface Intrusion to the Superfund Hazard Ranking System

Posted by Jon Elliott on Tue, Jan 10, 2017

On December 7, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) revised the Hazard Ranking System (HRS) it uses to compare site contamination and to designate the most hazardous sites for the National Priority List (NPL) for cleanup. This revision adds “subsurface intrusion” – i.e., intrusion of hazardous liquids such as contaminated groundwater and/or vapors from subsurface chemical contamination into structures – to the potential pathways to public harm evaluated by HRS when evaluating contaminated sites. This represents the first additional pathway added in nearly three decades. The revisions will become effective 60 days after publication in the Federal Register, presumably during the first quarter of 2017.

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Tags: Environmental risks, Environmental, EPA, Hazcom