Spring may be just around the corner, but winter isn’t over yet. Those of us who work in comfortable indoor spaces are fortunate that we only experience the cold weather on our way to and from work. However, for the many who work outdoors, the weather presents a daily challenge, especially during winter.
Audit, Compliance and Risk Blog
Although day-to-day environmental regulations tend to focus on water quality, water quantity is also an issue … and can be a critical one. Here in California, we’re experiencing the third year of a drought of historic proportions; our Sierra Nevada snowpack is at 18% of average as winter ends. As the drought continues, state and local agencies are taking stronger and stronger measures to limit water use. The State Water Resources Control Board SWRCB) has just proposed to expand emergency regulations adopted in July 2014.
Trespassing along railroad and transit rights-of-way (ROW) is a leading cause of rail-related deaths in America. Almost every two hours someone in the U.S. is hit by a train. Highway-rail crossing and trespasser deaths account for 90 percent of all rail-related deaths; more than 550 trespass fatalities and nearly as many injuries occur each year.
Although it’s been in the 70’s here in California, employers in most parts of the continent should be worrying about protecting workers against the extremely cold weather. Occupational safety and health regulators include “environmental” hazards as those that may require employers to provide their employees with personal protective equipment (PPE), and employers also bear a “general duty” to protect workers against recognized hazards. These requirements cover potential harm from extreme temperatures including cold. The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) PPE standards address cold, and U.S. and Canadian guidelines apply general worker protection principles to "cold stress" hazards.
By Kristen Brewer & Fergus McDonnell, Fasken Martineau DuMoulin LLP
Canada’s workplace hazardous chemicals communication system is changing in 2015. The existing scheme, involving the Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System which has been in place since 1988 (“WHMIS 1988”), is being modified to conform to the Globally Harmonized System for the Classification and Labelling of Chemicals (GHS).
A wide variety of federal, state and even local laws apply environmental, health and safety (EH&S) protection requirements to chemicals. EH&S compliance personnel are accustomed to complying with chemical management requirements imposed by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), and their state equivalents.
Adopted half a century ago, the Solid Waste Disposal Act (SWDA) of 1965 is one of the first federal statutes in the modern era of environmental protection. SWDA focused originally on worries that a “landfill crisis” combined predictions that landfills would soon be too full to provide disposal capacity, and longstanding concerns that poorly designed municipal and industrial landfills might not protect public health. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has applied SWDA authority to adopt landfill standards, which are administered by state and local governments nationwide.
How many times have you popped the batteries out of those old smoke detectors when the alarm blasted over burnt toast…and then failed to put the batteries back in? Or how about not replacing the batteries when they die or checking to see if the alarm is still in working order? Is there even a smoke detector in the house?
On January 30, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) published a proposal to revise its requirements for covered Federal Government contractors and subcontractors, including federally assisted construction contractors and subcontractors. This proposal would implement provisions in Executive Order (EO) Number 13672, which President Obama issued on July 21, 2014 (I blogged about the E.O. here). These revisions expand anti-discrimination responsibilities of federal contractors and federal grant recipients, to cover “sexual orientation” and “gender identity.” Once implemented, employment practices in these workplaces will match private employers’ responsibilities under a growing number of state laws, and under some federal court cases interpreting Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VII).
How do you have to manage waste biological materials generated by your activities—maybe from agricultural or biotech production, or maybe from your onsite clinic or the healthcare facility you run? Worker safety and transportation rules will apply to handling, and environmental protection rules to releases and disposal. But the main regulatory focus is provided by waste management requirements.