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Articles about quality, environmental and safety compliance issues.

Bring on the Team: How Nimonik and iAuditor Compare for Multiple Auditors and Auditees

At Nimonik we have spoken to countless potential clients, and upon discussing features, functionality and other solutions that are being considered, the name iAuditor occasionally comes up. We have already compared the advantages of iAuditor and Nimonik, but we would like to address the specific issue of large teams with a need for data management.

When comparing two different software providers, it is important to be sure that the aspects of each are compared properly and that you are using the right tool for your application. In this post, I will attempt to point out  the strengths and weaknesses of each tool and demonstrate which can be an ideal solution for organizations with teams need the ability to collaborate seamlessly.

Obviously, I am going to ultimately suggest to you that the Nimonik tool is the best overall solution (especially when a team approach to auditing is desired), but I want to genuinely acknowledge that our competitor, iAuditor, can be a good choice as well, depending on your company’s needs. Let’s look at a couple of specific scenarios and see how both tools have advantages and disadvantages that you need to consider.

First, I had a friend who needed to move and was looking for a checklist system for his smartphone and was at a loss for where to go. He had found iAuditor and used it to set up a moving checklist which included several questions. The tool also had  the ability to take photos and respond to requirements. My friend thought it to be quite easy, and it helped him on his big day. Additionally, he thought that it might be good for vacation checklists, or even for a solo operation for more business-oriented auditing. iAuditor was a practical and cheap solution to his overall needs at home at at his small business.

On the other hand, another acquaintance runs a large manufacturing company and has several people on a quality assurance team who work to guarantee the quality and accuracy of products and processes. The company has five operations spread out across the United States. My friend needed a tool to make sure all the staff were working in unison and that all the data gathered could be read, reported on and easily exported. For this they started with iAuditor, because it is free an appeared easy to use on the surface. Yet, after two months of auditing he found that there was no easy way to share data or issue tasks to staff and track follow-up. He turned to Nimonik Audit. The ability to upload personalized templates into the system, audit against them, and create beautiful reports was an instant hit! The time spent compiling reports for upper management was reduced by over 60%, and the team members were able to make sure they were on top of their audits or the tasks they were issued during an audit. In this particular case, with the need for bringing in a large team, the Nimonik App worked best.

In addition to these two examples, there are many larger organizations that  want to bring in the need to satisfy their ISO/OHSAS requirements, and they are leery of implementing too many solutions. Nimonik rises to this challenge by integrating the auditing tool with a comprehensive legislative update module with environmental, health and safety regulations for over 65 countries. Nimonik can also help you (at no additional cost) manage trainings, permits, and even incidents.

In terms of price, both Nimonik and iAuditor have advantages and disadvantages, iAuditor is basically free when used by a single auditor. However, if you do want to collaborate with other users, there is a $5 per user per month cost which can prove to be burdensome when you want to add people to your safety team or engage the entire company in a culture of safety.

Nimonik, on the other hand, does not charge per  user but rather per  audit, allowing you to make sure you are able to invite the right amount of people onto the platform and satisfy your organization’s performance of EHSQ audits. Many hands make light work! And whether you are 1 user or 1000, the cost won’t ever increase provided you do the same amount of inspections.

iAuditor and Nimonik differ somewhat in the area of additional features. While all of Nimonik’s other features are free with a subscription, iAuditor charges you to unlock certain features which can add up when you’re doing several audits with several people.

In all fairness, it seems the iAuditor solution would work best if your needs are  small and you don’t need much in the way of reporting. However, if you have more strict requirements and need to be able to easily export data, interpret reports, and have a platform where you can work on any web-enabled screen, Nimonik seems to be the ideal fit. The decision comes down to the size and demands of your particular company.

Contact us for a 45 day trial or quick assessment of your auditing process and see if we can work for you!


Corporate executives have a lot on their mind, but one of the top sources of stress is business risk. Managing legal compliance and quality control issues across complex operations is risky business and with growing numbers of fines being levied, business leaders must put in place robust systems to avoid issues that will impact the bottom line.

Companies to face a continual uphill battle in the area of environmental, quality, health and safety compliance in one department or other. Sometimes the production setup itself is amiss, and faulty equipment is a key source of trouble. In other companies, the safety culture may be what is lacking: employees may not be following prescribed methods for preventing hazards on the job due to a lack of motivation or effective reminders about the importance of compliance. One of our clients was recently audited by their Japanese headquarters. Though the American plant thought they had an amazing safety record, the Japanese office found a number of areas requiring improvement. Despite perception, the answer to “What is a compliance audit?” is simply “an inspection that can clearly demonstrate compliance to all requirements on an ongoing basis”.

One solution for minimizing the risk of noncompliance and the stress of not knowing how the company stands in that area is to schedule regular internal compliance audits. The compliance audit is a process that simply works through a checklist, commonly called an EHS protocol, and allows a company to assess its performance in advance of an official government inspection.

Nimonik recently conducted a LinkedIn poll of EHS specialists and found that though most have audit schedules in place, many still see room for improvement. Here are some of the survey results:

Screen Shot 2015-08-18 at 12.47.19 PM Screen Shot 2015-08-18 at 12.47.12 PM Screen Shot 2015-08-18 at 12.47.07 PM Screen Shot 2015-08-18 at 12.47.00 PM Screen Shot 2015-08-18 at 12.46.55 PM

Management teams often cringe at the thought of performing audits because it can involve costly experienced auditors who may issue a large report with a number of follow-up tasks.  A typical EHS environmental, safety or quality compliance audit at a manufacturing plant, signed off by an external auditor, will run $7500. An internal audit, done by staff, will often consume 2 weeks of person hours. Many companies don’t know how to begin performing their own internal inspections and will attempt to outsource. However, without internal resources to handle the report from the auditor, the impact on the operations can be limited and short-lived.

Nimonik offers both EHS and Quality audit protocols along with clear recommendations to get you started. We can help you plan your internal audit cycle and external compliance audit needs. With our auditing apps for mobile devices, the costs involved with  compliance will be reduced significantly. With our up-to-date lists of EHS protocols from over 65 countries worldwide and use of the latest mobile technology, auditing has never been easier. What’s more, when the process is done regularly, it can save the company a small fortune in fines and legal processing.

Let’s take a look at one possible audit scenario using a Nimonik compliance auditing app in the food production industry. Food production standards demand regular inspections for quality, safety, hygiene and environmental  issues. Companies like Grupo Bimbo Bakery (the largest bread producer in the world) rely on Nimonik tools such as the Risk Assessment for Food Preparation, Cooking and Service to work through a checklist of possible problem areas. They will complement this with a local EHS audit protocol from our database and plant specific requirements, depending on where the plant in question is located. Over time, our clients customize our audit checklists and build their own, ensuring the checklist covers their operations from head to toe. Just a few of the many categories and checklist items offered for consideration are:

Slips and Trips

– Doorways (rain), spillages, uneven surfaces — Kitchen equipment is well maintained and any leaks are promptly reported.

– Doorways (rain), spillages, uneven surfaces — Drainage channels and drip trays are provided where spills are likely.

Manual Handling

– Lifting and moving heavy objects or objects that are difficult to grasp — Appropriate equipment is available to move heavy items and staff are trained to use…

Contact with Heat

– Steam, hot water, hot oil and hot surfaces — Staff are trained in how to handle hot oils and how to safely use, empty and clean the fryers

– Steam, hot water, hot oil and hot surfaces — Water mixer taps are provided

The above are just a few of the many points to consider when conducting EHS inspections or compliance audits in the food production industry. The workflow is similar in most industrial and manufacturing industries. Nimonik provides comparable audit protocols for other industries (such as mining, environment and manufacturing) as well. For a complete sampling of our auditing tools, products, and tips on setting up an audit cycle, visit us on the web and start your free, 45-day trial account, or give us a call today at 1-888-608-7511.


Pipeline in the Mojave Desert, California.

Nimonik works with a number of gas pipeline companies including ENSTAR Natural Gas in Alaska, Allied Pipelines and others. As such, we have converted some common and very useful gas pipeline checklists for quality, safety and environmental issues. Take a look at the templates below and should you require any assistance or have any questions about our legal and best practices coverage for the industry, give us a call at 1-888-608-7511.


corrective_action_android

Nimonik is very happy to announce a free upgrade to Nimonik Audit for Android, you can download the inspection software for environmental, health and safety requirements here.

Corrective Actions on Android

This update adds the ability to issue, track and complete corrective actions. From your Android device you can now specify a corrective action for a client or colleague along with the due date and the responsible person. The responsible person will receive an email notification and will then be able to complete the action and leave a note on their iPhone, iPad, Android device or on NimonikApp.com. As a manager or auditor, you can generate rich reports of outstanding and upcoming corrective actions to help you monitor compliance across your organization.

Since Nimonik offers unlimited users on all of our corporate accounts, you can get your entire organization involved in your compliance efforts. To learn more about our tool, contact a product specialist at 1-888-608-7511. A quick outline of our corrective action workflow is as follows:

  1. Issue action item from Android with Responsible Person, Due Date and Action Item
  2. Email is sent to Responsible Person and Task is created on NimonikApp.com
  3. Responsible person completes the action on Android, iPhone, iPad or NimonikApp.com and leaves a completion note
  4. Email is sent to the issuer of the action item
  5. Issuer of action item can approve/reject completion action
  6. Manager can generate powerful report of outstanding, upcoming and problematic corrective actions

This app update also includes some user interface improvements, bug fixes and technical support tools.


Sorry, this entry is only available in Français.


This year, the 3rd annual HSE conference on mining safety was held on June 17-18, 2015, in Toronto, Canada, hosted by Marcus Evans (Link to conference and agenda). The organization was kind enough to provide Nimonik with an admission Press pass, and I was keen to more about the newest best practices in mining health safety. Since Nimonik works with a number of mining companies such as Rio Tinto, BHP Billiton, Glencore, Iron Ore Canada, and VALE, we are always attempting to keep up with the latest developments and share best practices across our clients.

As a recovering salesperson who is still learning about safety and environmental compliance, this conference was a great new experience for me.  I asked myself, “Can I get a fundamental understanding of the importance of a culture of safety within such a high-risk industry?” Fortunately, the conference delivered on both days with various related topics covering the groundwork of the safety culture that most participants promote in their organization.

The two-day event was held at the Novotel Conference Center right in downtown Toronto. I was glad I had arrived early: there was not  an empty seat in the house! The conference was chaired by Lawrence Watkins, Director of Health and Safety for Teck Resources. Lawrence was familiar with Nimonik when I introduced myself, and he proved to be a very capable conference-chair, keeping the audience alert, responsive and interested during and between each presentation.

Topics covered in the conference included:

  • Analyzing the Results of a Safety Climate Study on a Mobile Workforce
  • How Feelings Impact Decision Making and At-Risk Behavior
  • Building Effective and Efficient Training Systems (This was the topic of a luncheon provided by conference sponsor DuPont)
  • Our Health & Safety Journey and High Potential Risk Control
  • Tackling One of the Mining Industry’s Key Occupational Health Challenges: Fit to Work
  • Emphasizing a Robust Security Program to Maintain the Safety of All Employees
  • The Journey and Meaning Behind Achieving Zero Harm
  • … and many, many more.

It was evident fairly quickly that all the speakers who presented their case studies had a great deal of experience in their respective positions, and they provided valuable insight to their colleagues in order to help promote safe practices, safety moments, and moving away from a ‘reactive’ culture and towards a ‘proactive’ culture. They also enhanced our ability to identify aspects of operations that are prone to risk and to incident.

As an outsider, it’s reassuring to know that mining safety is a passion for most. Many of the presenters humanized the incidents that they disclosed, and others steered away from being self-congratulatory, stressing that the work of health and safety was never over.

If one were to ask me what I thought the take-home, one-sentence message would be from this conference, I’d have to look no further than to each case study presented. The unified message of the conference and through each presentation was that one incident, or one death, was one too many and I couldn’t agree more.

Many thanks once again to all who helped make the conference happen:  the presenters, organizers, Marcus Evans for hosting the event, and the event sponsors that helped make it happen. I look forward to many more future conferences, which will undoubtedly be a great success each time!

Link to conference and agenda

 


This is a guest post by our Affiliate, EEM inc. Become a Nimonik Affiliate.

Nearly 20 years after it was first published, ISO 14001 has become the world’s most widely recognized environmental standard. A new version of the standard will be published in September 2015. The Final Draft International Standard (FDIS) ISO 14001:2015 was published on July 2, and no further technical changes will be made to this version.

ISO 14001:2015 is designed to help organizations develop sustainable business practices that will revitalize, restructure and improve their environmental management practices while pushing corporate environmental performance to a higher level.

As markets and mentalities have evolved in the last decade, the standard needed updating to stay in line with today’s thinking about environmental issues and to better integrate sustainable development concepts. With the new version, any type of organization wishing to prepare for the environmental challenges and business opportunities of the future will have a stable framework of requirements for the next 10 years or more.

Assuming that the reader has prior exposure to the ISO 14001 standard, this White Paper ISO 14001:2015 provides more details on the key changes from the 2004 version. We also make some recommendations for upgrading an EMS to ISO 14001:2015.

Download the White Paper here.


Canada’s recent regulatory changes for hazardous materials may impact you.

Learn about the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals (GHS) in our free 2-part webinar series starting this Thursday, July 16.

GHS is a system that defines and classifies the hazards of chemical products, and communicates health and safety information on labels on safety data sheets.

Nimonik’s Vice-President Supriya Tandan will share her expertise on Canada’s environmental legislation to show you how GHS is implemented in Canada. You’ll learn how GHS is implemented, review recent changes to relevant regulations in Canada, and understand the new legal requirements pertaining to GHS to keep your operations compliant. Elements of GHS that have been explicitly adopted by Canadian legislation are enforceable.

Save your spot today!

Implementing the New Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labelling Chemicals (GHS)

Part I: Understanding the New Legal Requirements for GHS

Date: Thursday, July 16, 2015
Time: 11am – 12pm MST
Presenter: Supriya Tandan, Vice-President, Nimonik
Guests: Dr. Yogendra Chaudhry, Vice-President, Professional Services, ECO Canada, and Janelle Thomlinson, Lead, Product Development, ECO Canada

Register here

Part II: Staying Compliant with GHS Requirements

Date: Thursday, July 23, 2015
Time: 11am – 12pm MST
Presenter: Supriya Tandan, Vice-President, Nimonik
Guests: Dr. Yogendra Chaudhry, Vice-President, Professional Services, ECO Canada, and Janelle Thomlinson, Lead, Product Development, ECO Canada

Register here


OSHA is an agency governed by the Department of Labor in the United States and is mandated to ensure that companies provide safe, healthy and hygienic working conditions. It works towards this mission by enforcing the Federal Code. Its services are mostly limited to training and education, inspections and on-site assistance in some cases (especially for small businesses).

 

OSHA enforces several standards and regulations, which companies and their employees must comply with, but US companies are mostly left to their own devices with regards to the program and processes they use to become and remain compliant. Some hire consultants while others employ full or part time staff to try and ensure their organization respects the Federal Code 1910, 1926 and other requirements.

 

As an organization, OSHA does provide companies with some tools, but does not provide a turnkey software package for managing the health and safety of their staff. Just as other government agencies ( for example, the IRS) do not offer  software packages with their regulations, neither does OSHA. OSHA does provide some guidance and basic tools – Excel files mostly – to help companies get  started, but it lacks a solution for helping companies manage inspections and the data that is gathered.

 

Many private companies, however, do offer software solutions with varying specialties, costs and advantages. The mark of  good, effective software is its ability to adapt to the type of workplace or to the employer that it’s being implemented into as well as  its ability to scale as operations grow or evolve. Many companies express concern and displeasure when they need to change their health and safety practices or processes because of the limitations of a piece of software (for corrective actions, inspection workflows, etc.).

 

However, great software has an opinion on how a workflow should be done. In fact, all software must strike a fine balance between making its solution customizable and offering a clear path for the user to leverage the software without the massive investment of training. To make the selection process simpler, we wrote an analysis of choosing the best H&S software for your workplace. You can find it here.

 

While OSHA might not offer software to help you get started, its tools and information are available free resource to get your team started. Once you have implemented the basic HS programs that OSHA recommends, you can then identify specific needs that can be better managed with a software solution.

 

For example, depending upon your workplace, you may find that managing your incidents, training programs or inspections are the most time-consuming part of your HS program. Evaluate each task you perform and the time commitment it takes, and then find a software solution to help reduce the elements of your safety program that eats up the most time. Based on your experience, rinse and repeat until you have implemented the ideal tools for your entire safety management system to meet OSHA requirements.
Nimonik strives to help bring all these requirements under one easy-to-use cloud-based software solution with support that’s second to none. By managing your health and safety inspections, incidents, permits and training, our solution can become a critical, successful component of your management system. Contact us at info@nimonik.com for a FREE 45 day trial, or a demonstration on how we can help improve your OSHA compliance at your workplace!


In July of 2013 as BP executives were testifying before courts for the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, the National Energy Board – the Canadian agency responsible for ensuring the safe development of Canada’s oil and gas resources – were busy making changes to their regulations.

"Offthepipe" by Beeblebrox - Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0

“Offthepipe” by Beeblebrox – Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0

The goal of these changes was to create a proactive regulatory approach with the aim of preventing incidents before they occur and establishing a legal mechanism to hold corporate executives accountable for environmental and safety negligence. The repercussions of those regulatory changes have started to take hold and will fundamentally change the way that pipeline owners and operators conduct their business.

 

Included in those regulatory changes are two important modifications to regulations under the National Energy Board Act: The creation of the Administrative Monetary Penalties Regulations (National Energy Board) and amendments to the National Energy Board Onshore Pipeline Regulations. The purpose of the Administrative Monetary Penalties Regulations is to establish a framework of fines for those who own or operate a pipeline. Changes to the National Energy Board Onshore Pipelines Regulations (“the Pipelines Regulations”) mandate the creation of a management system and a cyclical auditing program. The management system prescribed in the Pipeline Regulations is very similar to that suggested under s.4.3.2 of the ISO 14001 standard. Namely, those who own or operate a pipeline must have an activity-based register which outlines all the activities that take place within their operations. This register must show the links between operational activities and legal requirements, if any.

According to the Canadian government, in 2013 there were about 825,000 km of transmission, gathering and distribution lines in Canada, transporting 1.3 barrels of crude oil and petroleum products and about five trillion cubic feet of natural gas. The pressure on the owners and operators of these facilities is mounting.  The National Energy Board has increased its’ audits and is encouraging compliance by handing out fines.  In 2015, ten fines were given, totaling $570,000 CAD and six were given in 2014, amounting to $ 213,000 CAD.

"Bill McKibben at Stop the Keystone XL pipeline rally" by chesapeakeclimate - Bill McKibben. Licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

“Bill McKibben at Stop the Keystone XL pipeline rally” by chesapeakeclimate – Bill McKibben. Licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

 

Outside of the government, environmental non-governmental organizations are increasingly using online activism, such as Sierra Club’s Twitter #Shellno campaign, to encourage those in the oil and gas industry to take their environmental and safety obligations seriously.  It is now essential that all members of the Canadian oil and gas industry implement a modern, rigorous and open legal management system and auditing platform.