The recent Bangladeshi garment factory collapse has left over 700 people dead and many companies asking themselves questions. While some advocate for moving production back to countries with better labour and construction standards; production costs remains a hard reality companies must tackle. Nearly all consumers lust for low cost goods and outsourcing remains a safe bet to deliver them. Yet, with live reporting, readily available smartphones and a more conscientious consumer class, un-safe working conditions on the other side of the globe can impact a company’s’ image and revenues at home.
In 2005, while living in China, a good friend of mine worked for a quality control company. Major retailers and manufacturers hired their firm to visit and inspect plants across the country. The stories of bribery, trickery and attempts to corrupt the inspectors were alarming – everything from gifts, to escorts and missing managers. Nevertheless, they did their best to gather data and inspect sites, but most quality control companies or outsources still do not have the means to conduct regular and rigorous inspections of their supply chain.
Smartphones and tablets can help companies around the world manage their supply chain and hold their inspections to a high standard. With software like our EHS Audit and EHS Audit Mobile (or other similar tools), you can share your audit checklists to teams of inspectors around the world: because everything is collected digitally (notes, details and photos), data is time-stamped and associated to a person, ensuring a complete audit trail. You can issue corrective actions, track responsibility and quickly act on major issues. With hard data in hand, suppliers have little choice to reform or lose a contract. At Nimonik, we believe all people deserve to work in a safe environment. Frequent audits of workplaces for safety and environmental violations remains the most powerful way to ensure plant managers respect laws, codes and standards.
In 2008 I cofounded Nimonik, a Montreal technology company that provides legal information services to major manufacturing and mining operations. We analyze and digest legal information and build tools to monitor environmental, health and safety obligations. Over the past year, we have augmented our core staff with amazing new team members and are now looking to complete our executive team with a person who passionately wants to lower legal costs through technology.
Our full job posting for a legal entrepreneur can be found here.
… Canadian efforts to sway Obama’s key decision.
Senate has already backed construction of the Keystone XL pipeline—but the final decision must come from President Obama (who has previously rejected it, twice). While President Obama considers his options, Canadian politicians are actively promoting the benefits south of the border. The Keystone pipeline would connect existing pipelines and carry oil produced in Canada to US refineries. Here is a quick round-up of the efforts by Canadian politicians’ to promote Keystone to American decision-makers.
In an effort to sway the American public, the Albertan government has been promoting Alberta’s oil sand environmental record. For example, on April 7, the Ottawa citizen reported that Alberta published advertisements stating the economic benefits of the Keystone pipeline as well as their efforts to regulate oil sands development.
The effort to sway public opinion was not only directed at Americans, the Albertan Minister of the Environment also stunned industry leaders by floating ambitious new regulations for the oil sand industry, the full story of those regulations can be found, here. On April 10, 2013, the Federal Minister of Natural Resources also announced that amendments to NEB Onshore Pipeline regulations were in force. These amendments help ensure that concerned companies create and maintain an environmental management system with sufficient support staff. These efforts and general compliance would also be subject to more audits under the amendments.
Yet, Obama’s decision may be circumvented by Congress and as the CBC reported, Alison Redford seems intent on appealing directly to congress in an effort to sway the decision.
Both Alberta and the Federal government officials are putting their muscle behind efforts to promote the Keystone XL project. But, with fierce opposition by various groups in the United States and a hesitant Obama, only time will tell if this pipeline is ever approved.
Too many auditors, managers and consultants are building their own Audit Protocols for environmental, health and safety compliance. We want to lower your audit costs and help you audit frequently with updated protocols, ensuring constant compliance.
To help us prioritize the upcoming sale of some new EHS Audit Protocols, please take five minutes to fill out our survey. Complete the survey and we will kick in an extra free month on any of our plans.
March 7, the Supreme Court of Canada issued its decision on the Antrim Truck center v. Ontario, a case that had been working its way up the court system for nearly a decade. The decision is of importance to property owners whose properties may be impacted by actions taken on behalf of the government (or a public entity). The Court was asked to characterize when a person can claim that an action, taken by a public entity on behalf of the public, is a significant interference and due compensation. Or, in legal terms, when can a person claim “injurious affection” to their property.
Five facts, key to understanding the decision:
1) The Antrim Truck stop (Antrim) was a profitable truck stop along Highway 17 in Ontario.
2) In 2004, the province of Ontario changed the structure of Highway 17 to improve safety. The new highway also caused reduced revenues for Antrim.
3) Antrim’s owner took the province to court, claiming that the province had caused the owner to suffer loss of use and enjoyment of their property (or, “injurious affection”), and asked for compensation under Ontario’s Expropriations Act (RSA 2000, c E-13).
4) Various courts have asked the question: was the construction of the highway a significant disturbance or was it just annoying, given that the new highway would be of public benefit?
5) The Supreme Court of Canada decided that the construction of the highway was a nuisance for Antrim’s owner and that this nuisance was an interference which was substantial and unreasonable, and the owner was due compensation (i.e. they decided it was not just annoying).
How did they decide what is a substantial and unreasonable interference? Judge Cromwell tried to define the terms in the recent decision: He wrote that for an interference to be substantial it must “amount to more than a slight annoyance or trifling interference” and for it to be unreasonable, one must ask the question, if “whether, in all the circumstances, the individual claimant has shouldered a greater share of the burden of construction than it would be reasonable to expect individuals to bear without compensation” 2013, SCC 13.
In the future, property owners should be vigilant of the severity, frequency and duration, as well as the sensitivity and the conduct of the government (i.e. did the government implement mitigative programs) when contemplating claims of injurious affection and asking for compensation.