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Articles about quality, environmental and safety compliance issues.

Nimonik is happy to announce a free upgrade to EHS Audit for Android devices. This update allows you to capture video and audio recordings during your audits. For each photo, you can annotate the image and add captions to help inform your audit results. The other benefit of this upgrade is that you can add reference photos and documents to each audit question, allowing you to quickly see relevant material for the audit in question. Take a look at a quick video here or below.

Download the free upgrade here.


Keeping the Operations and Maintenance (O&M) Manual updated is an important part of keeping your company ready for inspections. Federal regulations require pipeline operators to update their O&M Manual annually. Inspectors from the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) will review the manual during routine inspections. PHMSA has already given out over 20 Notices of Amendment this year, which are warnings that plans and procedures are not satisfactory. Here are some guidelines to follow that will help you “think like an inspector” when reviewing your company’s O&M Manual.

Most pipeline operators know what it takes to run their company safely, but inspectors will be checking for regulatory compliance. Make sure that the procedures listed in your O&M Manual cite the regulatory requirements they are meeting. Most requirements are found in Title 49 of the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 192 – Minimum federal safety standards for the transmission of natural and other gas by pipeline. However, Part 192 is very long, so inspectors will be looking for citations to section (for example: 192.605) or even subsection (for example: 192.613(a)). Your manual should reference at least the following:

  • Operation, maintenance and emergency procedures required in the O&M Manual at 192.605
  • Procedures for pipeline surveillance at 192.613(a)
  • Emergency response plans at 192.615
  • Public awareness plans at 192.616
  • Accident investigations procedures at 192.617
  • Part 191 addresses the requirements for incident reporting, and the O&M Manual should contain procedures for reporting incidents according to the requirements of this Part
  • Any industrial standards that are referenced in the manual, such as API Standard 1162, should be included in full in the manual

Check that all contact information in case of an emergency or for reporting incidents is current. Make sure the manual contains procedures for contacting the state agency overseeing pipeline activity in your area, if required, as well as PHMSA contact information. If your company uses a vendor or consultant for public awareness, make sure the manual lists the current contractor.

Finally, update the O&M Manual to meet any changes to regulations. Referring to a code book may not ensure accuracy. Code books are usually updated only once a year but regulations can be changed at any time. Already this year, PHMSA has made changes to 49CFR-191, 49CFR-192 and 49CFR-195 concernin the following topics, among others:

  • Responsibility to Conduct Construction Inspections at 192.305 and 195.204
  • Leak Surveys for Type B Gathering Lines at 192.9
  • Qualifying Plastic Pipe Joiners at 192.285(c)
  • Mill Hydrostatic Tests for Pipe To Operate at Alternative Maximum Allowable Operation Pressure at 192.112
  • Transportation of Pipe at 192.65
  • Threading Copper Pipe: at 192.279
  • Alternative MAOP Notifications at 192.620(c)(1)
  • Components Fabricated by Welding at 192.153
  • Odorization of Gas Transmission Lateral Lines § 192.625

Inspectors will check to see that your company has a plan in place to track regulatory changes. Since legislative tracking takes time and requires specialized knowledge, subscribing to a legislative tracking system such as Nimonik is a great way of fulfilling this obligation without straining company resources. Nimonik’s legal content experts track legislation tailored to your company’s needs and requirements. Concise and understandable legal updates are delivered directly to your desktop, iphone or Android device. Not only does Nimonik’s system help you stay current, but using the system creates a record to show inspectors. Your company can more easily both comply with regulations and demonstrate your compliance to safety inspectors.


Nimonik is happy to announce new pricing, all previous clients will be grandfathered on their current plans. This new pricing is designed to offer more flexible solutions based on your company size and the complexity of your operations. Contact us for multi-year agreements and for discounts if you switch from another service provider to Nimonik. Download our complete pricing guide here.

Audit Module : NimonikApp.com and iPad, iPhone and Android Software

Our standard plans are outlined below, we also offer custom plans to meet your needs, simply contact us for a personal quote. Need a different plan? Contact us for a custom made solution.

Self-Serve Plans Corporate Plans
Solo Auditor Small Facility Small Team Large Team Corporate Plan Custom Plan
2 auditors & auditees 5 auditors & auditees 20 auditors & auditees Unlimited Unlimited Unlimited
3 audits per month 6 audits per month 20 audits per month 30 audits per month 75 audits per month Custom
$9 per month $29 per month $99 per month $199 per month $349 per month Custom Price
Email Support

Group Training

Email Support

Group Training

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Group Training

Email & Phone Support

One-on-One Training

Email & Phone Support

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The audit module allows you to have unlimited users, conduct audits on the website and on iPad and iPhone. You can issue unlimited corrective actions, unlimited reports and schedule audits.

Legal Register Module Content : Update Service

To effectively monitor environmental, health and safety legislation, you need a system in place. Nimonik offers an easy to use legislation and industrial standards monitoring and analysis tool that combines simple explanations of legislation with powerful technology. Our prices are based on Jurisdiction and Industrial Sector. For large subscriptions and multi–year agreements, certain rebates may apply, contact us to learn more.

Jurisdictions

See complete list in our pricing guide. Federal laws are included in State and Provincial Prices and municipal by-laws available upon request.

Legislation Types

  • Environmental
  • Health and Safety
  • Proposed Legislation
  • Industry Standards (CSA, NFPA,…)

Industries

  • General Industry: Included in all plans
  • Mining
  • Oil & Gas
  • Food & Beverage
  • Maritime
Client

Type

Consultants Small Company (less than 50 employees) Medium Company (less than 400 employees) Large Company

(3000 employees)

Corporate Level

(unlimited)

Cost $1000 per client $500 per jurisdiction & per legislation type & per industry $1 200 per jurisdiction & per legislation type & per industry $1 500 per jurisdiction & per legislation type & per industry $2 499 per jurisdiction & per legislation type & per industry
Included Unlimited Users

Summary Text

Upload of legal register

Public Training Session

2 Users

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5 Users

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2hr Annual Training

15 Users

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4 hr Annual Training

Unlimited Users

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8 hr Annual Training

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Nimonik Audit and Inspection Interface on Website NimonikApp.com

Nimonik is thrilled to announce a completely overhauled interface for conducting audits and inspections on the web. This new interface makes it easier to view an entire audit, identify questions that have outstanding corrective actions and rapidly edit and annotate audit findings.

With this release we have also upgraded our Audit Template Creation tools, allowing you to build your audit templates quickly and easily online. Watch the video below to see the new interface in action.

 

To go along with this significant upgrade, we are also happy to announce new auditing plans that better match the different types of companies who use our inspection system on the web, iPad and Android. The table below outlines our plans, contact us at info@nimonik.com for more information.

Nimonik Audit and Inspection Pricing Guide


Audit Report Writing Times and Cost Savings

Nimonik recently conducted a survey of EHS Auditors, out of the respondents we found out that over 80% still do not use modern mobile solutions to audit and inspect their locations and clients. Most people are however using a mobile device to capture photos, but they do not have an integrated auditing solution. Lastly, and perhaps most revealing, auditors reported that they devote the following percentage of their audit time to report writing:

Pen and Paper: 43%

Excel and Word: 40%

iPad or iPhone Software: 19%

It is clear that integrated auditing software on mobile technology reduce report writing time, allowing for more audits and inspections and ultimately, higher compliance. Let us get you started with a great and easy to use iPad auditing software.

The winner of our iPad draw was Gordy Koch from Fehr Graham Engineering & Environmental. Congratulations!


Last week I blogged about board responsibility and the need for management systems and tools to achieve compliance throughout the organization. This morning I had the chance to attend a conference, “Managing Emerging Environmental Risks : Are you Prepared?” at the Blakes Law Offices in Montréal, Canada. While all of the talks were interesting and engaging, the presentation by Jonathan Kahn on developments in board and director responsibility especially stood out.

Khan highlighted two cases in Ontario, one settled and one pending. The settled case is known as Baker and involves a  company called Northstar Aerospace that had a known contaminant on its site and a liability on its balance sheet. To manage the contaminant, Northstar had installed a water treatment system that cost nearly $150,000 a month to operate. However, the company did not put any money aside for the removal or management of the contaminant. Northstar then went into bankruptcy protection and the Ontario Ministry of the Environment (MOE) launched suits against the directors of the company to recover the costs necessary to continue to manage the water treatment facility.

Without going into the details of the case (which you can do at the link above), the directors settled with the MOE rather than attempt to fight their efforts. The settlement money was likely paid-out-of-pocket as the directors did not have insurance to cover their environmental risks, making this an essential reminder that directors should check their liabilities policies for such coverage.

A second case highlighted by Jonathan Kahn was that of Cavern Petrochemical in Guelph, Ontario. This company made fuel additives and had a series of financial issues. One of the three owners passed away, and the two remaining business owners had few assets.

During a previous financial restructuring, Cavern had sold the land it operated on to a family friend who then leased it back to the company. This created some liquidity for the company and allowed it to continue to operate. The land was placed in a numbered company whose primary owner was domiciled in the United Kingdom. The owner had given power of attorney to a Canadian accountant who hired a company to sell the property on which Cavern operates. In 2012, Cavern had a spill of some serious chemical products  (toluene, xylene and acetone) and has shut down. In attempt to recover the money was necessary for site reclamation (estimated at three million dollars), the Minister of the Environment is pursuing not only Cavern Petrochemical and its owners, but also the owner of the land, the accountant and the company hired to sell the property. This case is before the courts and it will be interesting to see how it plays out.

The moral of these stories, as you might have guessed, is that directors are liable for the activities of their business and for the proper management of the capital necessary to remediate any legal issues. Even if the directors are recognized as not being at fault for an accident, in the event that it happened before they became directors, they are still on the hook for the cleanup. In simple terms, if the MOE cannot get the money through traditional “polluter pays” methods, they will go after anyone involved, without pity.

Dianne Saxe, a well-known environmental lawyer and the representative for Northstar Aerospace, has publicly stated that the MOE has become particularly aggressive in their tactics to hold directors accountable for the environmental activities of the companies they administer. She offers a good outline of the legal framework here and of the Baker Northstar settlement here.  Board members and officers may find her information helpful for avoiding smaller liability.


corporate_liability

Companies have growing compliance requirements with a clear responsibility for respecting laws and regulations that go all the way to the top of the organization. Since our blog posts typically concern ways to meet compliance requirements, we thought it would be interesting to explain why those with decision-making powers need to understand and meet the obligations found in laws and regulations. Of course, companies, like persons, are expected to respect the laws and regulations in the jurisdictions they operate in, but a company must be aware that it is their board which are ultimately responsible for compliance. This is doubly true in publicly-traded corporations as securities laws increase requirements related to corporate governance.

Most companies rely on in-house and external council along with specialist consultants to determine legal compliance. This can work, but it is not enough to ensure constant compliance with an ever evolving regulatory framework and changing operations. As companies acquire new divisions, change their operations and see changes to legislation, they must constantly stay aware and take action to ensure compliance. Doing this manually, with lawyers and consultants can quickly become cost prohibitive. To tackle this issue in a cost-effective manner, a modern organization should have robust systems in place to ensure that everyone from front-line staff to the CEO to board members are in line with the law. This requirement is particularly true for publicly-traded companies, whose boards are legally liable for compliance to all applicable laws and regulations. Though the implementation of these legal compliance management systems can be delegated to committees and operations staff, final liability does lie with the board.

In the book Governance of Publicly Listed Corporations, author Thierry Dorval explains that  the responsibility of board members to ensure that operations are in compliance with all relevant laws and regulations is clearly outlined. A recognized expert in corporate governance and partner at Norton Rose Fulbright, Thierry Dorval states on page 193,

“The Board has the following responsibilities: … ‘(5)Taking all reasonable measures to ensure that appropriate systems are in place to identify business risks and opportunities and  overseeing the implementation of processes to manage these risks and opportunities…. (7) Monitoring the Corporation’s compliance with applicable legal and regulatory requirements.” In our work with large organizations, we have seen a wide array of systems to manage this requirement. From simple excel files and emails, to nothing at all to a very high legal bill every year, companies are clearly struggling to implement a robust solution to their complex regulatory requirements.”

He goes on to explain on page 96-197 that

“The Audit Committee has the following responsibilities… With respect to risk management and internal controls … (4) Assisting the Board with the oversight of the Corporation’s compliance with applicable legal and regulatory requirements.”

Therefore, not only does the board of a publicly listed corporation have a responsibility to put in place systems to manage regulatory compliance, but the audit committee must also assist in this process. These requirements are outlined by both the NYSE Company Manual and the National Policy 58-201.

In Canada, we can take a look at the Consolidated Ontario Securities Act, Regulations and Rules, which outline the requirement of boards to implement regulatory compliance systems in their companies. For example in Part V – Ongoing Requirements for Issuers and Insiders page 58-201 states,

“The Board should adopt a written code of business conduct and ethics (a code). The code should be applicable to directors, officers and employees of the issuer…. In particular, it should address the following issues: … (e) compliance with laws, rules and regulations;”.

This requirement is fairly typical of securities law, and any publicly-traded company (and most likely many large private companies) will have it in their corporate by-laws in any jurisdiction and will be subject to it.

Though many board members and corporate executives are aware of these requirements, they fail to take a systematic approach to the problem. Instead of putting in place a vigorous legal compliance and risk-management solution, they rely on periodic audits and legal services. Only when something goes wrong – a spill, a death, an explosion or a lawsuit – does the board realize they are personally liable. Of course even a robust system needs a periodic audit, but the first step to meeting the securities requirements and ensuring board members are meeting their obligations is to establish a framework for ensuring compliance throughout the organization. Nimonik works with companies  of all sizes to help structure such a system and train staff members, allowing the entire operation to demonstrate constant compliance. In this way, the organization’s board of directors can meet the requirements to comply with all laws, rules and regulations of the jurisdiction in which they operate.


Nimonik is in the business of developing accessible legal content and modern digital tools to support leading-edge companies which aspire to reduce risk and achieve compliance faster and easier.  For the second year in a row, we attended the Environmental Regulatory Compliance for Oil & Gas conference held in Calgary, Alberta. We will also attend the excellent Mining Health and Safety Conference in Toronto on June 16th, also organized by Marcus Evans.

During the conference, the idea of “risk” permeated many of the lectures, workshops, networking events and the coffee breaks.  Risk is a tricky and nebulous concept– so complex that CBC Ideas recently produced a 2-part series elucidating its’ origins, uses and pitfalls. It was only natural that both participants and presenters of the conference thought  of and manage risk in diverse and interesting ways.

At the operations level, the CH2M Hill demonstrated the value of asset management.  By using a systematized approach to asset management, project managers can reduce the risk of faulty equipment that can lead to safety, environmental or production issues.  Evaluating assets also leads to informed and cost-effective decisions regarding which equipment should be repaired, improved or replaced. Of particular interest was a presentation on the difficulties of navigating the evolving environmental regulatory requirements initiated through budget bills. The presentation offered the following advice for  attempting to convince decision-makers to take risk management and environmental compliance seriously:

  1. Accentuate the value of having a license to operate
  2. Educate decision-makers about environmental laws

and, when all else fails:

  1. Highlight imprisonment provisions as found within laws

Though risk should be at the forefront of every decision maker’s agenda, presenters also argued the importance of managing risk even at the operational level.  For example, a theatrical presenter aptly showed the transformation that a well-designed user-manual can make. My fellow participants and I were convinced of how such a well thought-out user manual can make a crucial difference in helping practitioners find the “right” information at the “right” time.  Representatives of Nexen and Suncor also shared experiences of innovation on the ground level. Both companies have developed in-house regulatory management systems to ensure that their database of regulatory requirements are vigilantly monitored to confirm constant compliance.

Risks, as the broadcaster Kathleen Flaherty notes, are taken to derive benefits.  Calgary clearly understands that the economic benefits derived from mining, developing and transporting oil and gas carry heavy risks.  From Nimonik’s perspective, the opportunity to see the variety of outlooks and solutions in managing risk was fascinating, motivating and inspiring.


Choosing the right construction safety consultant can literally be a life or death decision for your workforce. It can also be a time-consuming and difficult decision for your management team.

Carefully following the well-known four-phase process of hiring (sourcing, screening, interviewing, and staffing) can present an enormous challenge in the area of construction safety since the well-being of every member of the company – even the reputation and well-being of the company itself – hangs on this decision.  Bringing in the wrong individual(s) who are not experts in the safety process or those who are not committed to the company long-term can result in a tremendous waste of the company’s time and resources as the process of sourcing and hiring must begin all over again.

Delegating the task of construction safety consulting to a consulting group outside of your company can be a healthy, budget-friendly, stress-free alternative to attempting to staff your own company with in-house consultants.  Consider the benefits of securing the help of an outside safety consulting group of professionals:

You Save Time– The National Association of Colleges and Employers reports that the average company spends over twenty two days making hiring decisions once a prospective employee interviews for a position.  That figure doesn’t even begin to address the time spent sourcing the best candidates, collection and reviewing resumes and making arrangements for the interviews. When the “wrong” candidate is chosen for a position, this lengthy process is compounded again and again. Using an external consulting group eliminates this redundant hiring process.

You Save Money – Time wasted in the hiring/staffing process is intrinsically tied to another waste of precious resources: the loss of money. During the time spent searching out and securing the right staff members to fill a vacancy, one of two scenarios can occur:  either the existing staff is forced into overtime to cover the openings, or measures that are vital to ensuring the company’s health and safety go undone.  Both alternatives result in a financial burden for the company – either in excessive payroll burdens or in loss due to accidents and lost production as a result of not having the proper safety managers in place.  The latter of the two is definitely the more costly since it can spell safety violations resulting in fines, employee down time, customer dissatisfaction and even lawsuits.

You Add Proven Experts to Your Team – By linking up with an already-established team of experts who have a solid reputation for successful safety consulting, you get the job done right the first time around.  The right team of experts has connections to professional team members across the world and in every field of safety compliance. Such a vast supply of resources means that your company will have the best opportunity to provide a safe, compliance work environment, and that translates into higher revenue and a more solid reputation for your company!

Your investment in safety consulting is a vital part of keeping your company solvent and flourishing.  Nimonik works with our affiliates around the world, many of whom are safety consultants and through a quick phone call 1-888-608-7511 or an email, we can point you in the right direction.


Safety is something we can all get on board with, and it affects us in more ways than we realize. In our modern day, many of the things we take for granted are mired in strict safety guidelines: driving, food preparation, infrastructure, sports, and much more. One place where safety is often overlooked, due to its low-impact nature, is office safety.

Injuries and incidents are often overlooked as normal human wear and tear. For example, carpal tunnel syndrome, back pain, eye strain, etc., are sometimes viewed as an expected part of the living and working process. In this regard, we fail to adopt even the most minimal practical and ergonomic changes required to ensure we remain productive, in good health, safe and free from injury.

Clutter and loose wires can lead to falls or items carelessly placed on an upper shelf can fall onto employees, leading to unforeseen injuries which, in turn, lead to increased costs. Poor placement of one’s head relative to the keyboard and screen can lead to stressed joints and poor posture, and improper lifting techniques make employees prey to back injury. While not nearly as egregious as other workplaces, office safety remains a concern worth addressing.

Top Safety Topics
Injury Prevention (falls, being struck by an object)

Work areas can become easily cluttered and covered in office supplies. Always keep your desk free of clutter. This will prevent items from falling onto the floors. Secure all electrical and computer cords: loose cords present a tripping hazard. Never leave boxes, papers or other objects in hallways or walkways as this is a main source of tripping incidents. Simple machinery such as paper cutters and document shredders can become a source of serious, disabling accidents when loose-fitting clothing or unguarded points of entry are not monitored and kept in check.

Ergonomics

Ergonomics in the office environment is another key safety issue. Each year, many office employees take time off for visits to the doctors with complaints of pain and discomfort in the back, legs, arms, eyes and hands. The vast majority of these problems can be negated with proper ergonomic techniques. This can be a very effective safety topic that’s worth repeating during your safety moments. Teaching employees the ideal method for sitting long term while working at a computer or elsewhere will not only help reduce aches and pains, but it will boost their morale. As people’s aches and pains decrease, their moods often become better.

Lifting and Carrying

Back injuries top the list of reasons for employee absenteeism or medical retirement from a job. Sometimes these injuries are a result of falls (and fractures resulting in nerve damage), but often a cause as simple as using the wrong procedure for lifting heavy objects is at fault. Employees need to be trained to use the L position for Lifting. Improper lifting methods can result in severe muscle strain and debilitating weakness. Often, the victim of such muscle injuries is out of work for weeks at a time and is a frequent visitor of the local chiropractor or doctor’s office. The time and effort spent educating employees and enforcing proper lifting techniques costs far less than even one back injury.

Body Care: Eyes, Hands and Legs

Anyone who has ever been in a cast for any length of time has an appreciation for the full use of limbs that many of us take for granted. Some of the simplest daily routines become near-insurmountable chores when there has been even a slight injury to a finger, hand, arm, leg, foot or toes. The full use of the body – especially the eyes – is essential for giving a full day of productive employment. Reduced production or down time results in loss for both the employee and the company. An education involving the proper use of protective equipment for the eyes and limbs is essential for avoiding debilitating accidents.

Electrical and Fire Safety

A fire on the job not only causes a loss of production time as employees flee a building amid the wailing of sirens and buzzers, but it can also cause the loss of equipment and inventory, and – heaven forbid – a life. Other casualties sustained due to faulty electrical systems and fires include electrocution, smoke inhalation, and carbon monoxide poisoning. A proper education in these highly-dangerous area is, again, far more cost-effective than paying for the aftermath of even one accident. Recently, for example, a company was fined $1.4 billion for a fatal explosion.(Source)

Conclusion

In comparison to work in a manufacturing plant or a hazardous chemical lab, a day at the office may seem rather benign. What many people fail to realize, however, is that injuries resulting from a fall or being struck by a falling object, or something as simple as the improper lifting of a heavy box of paper for the office photocopier have the same end result as an injury in a manufacturing setting: employee down time and escalating costs for the companies. A need for a safe office code of conduct is as crucial as the strictest of regulations in the most demanding and harshest environments.

To help you ensure a safe office workplace, here are some free checklists you can use on the web or on iPad and Android:

General Office Cleaning Risk Assessment
Risk Assessment For a Call Centre
Joint Health and Safety Committee Workplace Inspection Checklist
Electronic Office Equipment Safety
General Office Space Safety
Safety and Health Office Workplace Safety Checklist
Safety & Health Office Workplace Safety Checklist
Electronic Office Equipment Safety Audit Checklist
Office Area Health and Safety Inspection Quicklist
Complete Office Checklist
Effective Design of Office Space