Audit, Compliance and Risk Blog

EPA is Expanding Mercury Reporting Requirements

Posted by Jon Elliott on Tue, Jan 30, 2018

On June 22, 2016 President Obama signed the “Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act,” revising the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) TSCA extensively. I’ve written about the major programmatic changes here, here, and here. In addition to those Big Picture changes however, the 2016 Amendments provide a number of targeted revisions.

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Tags: Hazcom, Environmental, Environmental risks, Health & Safety, tsca

New York’s Legionella Program Hitting Stride

Posted by Jon Elliott on Tue, Nov 07, 2017

Although Environmental Health and Safety (EH&S) requirements target hundreds of micro-organisms (primarily viruses and bacteria), important hazards remain unregulated. Many await definitive scientific conclusions, but others need testing and control methodologies that would allow requirements to be designed and administered, sufficient regulator and regulated entity resources, and/or high enough political priorities. Until recently, one of these unregulated pathogens has been the legionella bacterium, first identified in 1976 as the cause of “Legionnaire’s disease,” which appears as a form of pneumonia.

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Tags: OSHA, EPA, Environmental risks, Environmental, Health & Safety

Businesses Using “Science-Based Targets” to Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions

Posted by Jon Elliott on Thu, Oct 26, 2017

In December 2015, representatives of 195 countries agreed to continue to expand global efforts to combat climate change. The new Paris Agreement broke a longstanding impasse with a clever mixture of binding but unenforceable commitments, contemporary agreements, and ongoing agreements-to-agree (I wrote about the Agreement here). Since then, analysts have estimated that full implementation of these national targets would reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by about half the amounts necessary to accomplish the Agreement’s stated goal by holding average global temperature increases below 2 o C. Incomplete national successes – President Trump’s decision to back off U.S. commitments is the first and most obvious example – would leave even more to be done.

The Paris Agreement anticipated that sub-national governments and private organizations would contribute to global progress, by meeting and often exceeding national requirements (I wrote about formal United Nations programmatic expectations here).

One of the non-governmental efforts is the Science Based Targets Initiative, through which individual companies can set GHG-reduction goals. At latest report, over 300 companies participate.

What is the Science Based Targets Initiative?

The Initiative is a multi-sector collaboration among the following international organizations: CDP (formerly called the Carbon Disclosure Project), World Resources Institute (WRI), the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF; formerly World Wildlife Fund), and the United Nations Global Compact (UNGC). Participation in the Initiative is also identified as one of the commitments under the We Mean Business Coalition, which is another international business initiative. The Initiative defines “science-based targets” by reference to the Initiative’s effort to support the 2o C target (which the Initiative refers to as the “2°C pathway”):

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Tags: ghg, Greenhouse Gas, Environmental, Environmental risks, climate change, Health & Safety, EPA

EPA Moves to Formalize Revised Strategies

Posted by Jon Elliott on Tue, Oct 24, 2017

EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt has, by word and individual action, been moving the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) away from President Obama’s aggressive agenda and toward President Trump’s preference for reduced activity. These have included a less-regulatory “Back-to-Basics Agenda,” which I described here. Now the agency is proposing to formalize these priorities in its strategic plan for the next four fiscal years, 2018-2022.

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Tags: EPA, Environmental, Environmental risks, Health & Safety

“Workplace” Under Part II of the Canada Labour Code Includes Work Activities Performed in Workplaces Not Controlled by the Employer

Posted by Maryse Tremblay on Tue, Oct 17, 2017

In a recent decision, Canadian Union of Postal Workers v. Canada Post Corporation, the Federal Court of Appeal reversed an earlier Federal Court endorsement of an appeals officer’s decision to limit the definition of “workplace” for the purposes of inspection under Part II of the Canada Labour Code to workplaces where the employer exercises control.

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Tags: Canadian, Employee Rights, Employer Best Practices, Health & Safety

EPA Evaluating Superfund Policies

Posted by Jon Elliott on Tue, Oct 10, 2017

One of new Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) administrator Scott Pruitt’s many initiatives has been to change his agency’s approaches to cleanups under the national Superfund law. He announced several basic policy changes in May, and convened a Superfund Task Force to develop detailed recommendations. The task force issued its report late in July, offering 42 recommendations. These are summarized below.

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Tags: Environmental, Environmental risks, EPA, Health & Safety, site auditing

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

Natural Disasters Remind Us To Review Emergency Plans

Posted by Jon Elliott on Tue, Sep 26, 2017

Although environmental health and safety (EH&S) regulations focus primarily on safe handling of materials and wastes during routine operations, reports following hurricanes Harvey and Irma, and the major earthquake in Mexico, should remind us to plan to prevent releases from non-routine situations, up to an including natural disasters. Press reports include the following:

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Tags: Environmental, Environmental risks, Health & Safety

Safety: It's Not All About You

Posted by Tanya Conole on Tue, Aug 29, 2017

What if I told you that safety wasn’t about you? That the ‘safety starts with you’ mantra no longer applies? What would you think? How would you act? Could this even be true?

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Tags: Health & Safety, Transportation, Training

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