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Articles about quality, environmental and safety compliance issues.

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.


The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) (collectively, the “agencies”) issued a new ruling on June 29, 2015, that redefines the waters covered by the Clean Water Act. The new ruling, entitled the “Clean Water Rule” by EPA, is important for industry because activities that pollute or fill in waters covered by the Clean Water Act (33USC-1251) (Act) are subject to permitting requirements.

The goal of the new “Clean Water Rule” is to more precisely define terms that have been problematically vague in the past. At first reading, the Clean Water Rule (Rule) succeeds in providing clearer terminology without greatly changing the scope of the Act. In practice, as the American College of Environmental Lawyers predicts, legal actions and the court system will most likely decide if the new definition is consistent and precise, and how far its scope of application extends (source available here).

The difficulty of determining whether the Act applies to a given body of water arises from the Act itself. At 33 U.S.C. § 1361(7), the Act states that it protects “the waters of the United States, including the territorial seas.” The agencies have traditionally defined this to mean that the Act covers:

  • Navigable waters
  • Territorial seas
  • Interstate waters
  • Impoundments of any of the above

The courts have generally agreed that these four categories are “waters of the United States” and are therefore, covered by the Act. The new Rule maintains these categories.

The agencies and courts have also determined that the Act covers waters that are significantly connected to traditional “waters of the United States.” The agencies previously defined these connected waters as “tributaries” or “adjacent waters” without further specifying what these terms meant. The new Rule provides the following specifications:

  • A “tributary” must have physical characteristics of “flow” which are a bed and banks, and a high-water mark.
  • “Adjacent waters” are contiguous, bordering or neighboring to waters of the United States. They may be separated by constructed or natural barriers.
  • Adjacent waters that are “neighboring” are either: within 100 feet of the high-water mark; or within the 100-year floodplain and 1,500 feet of the high-water mark; or within 1,500 feet of the high-tide line.

The new Rule also states that certain types of water bodies may be covered by the Act if, after a case-by-case analysis, it is determined that a “significant nexus” connects the water body to a water of the United States. This category includes the following types of water bodies:

  • Prairie potholes
  • Carolina and Delmarva bays
  • Pocosins
  • California western vernal pools
  • Texas coastal prairie wetlands
  • Waters within the 100-year floodplain or within 4,000 feet of a high-tide marker of a water of the United States.

The Rule does not remove exemptions for any type of water that was previously exempt from the Act. Converted cropland and waste treatment systems remain excluded. The Rule explicitly exempts these types of waters for the first time:

  • Ditches not in or draining wetlands
  • Ditches with ephemeral flow not located in a tributary
  • Ditches with intermittent flow not located in a tributary or draining a wetlands
  • Groundwater and erosional features
  • Stormwater features
  • Cooling ponds

The new rule may impact industries that discharge into waters, dredge or fill-in waters, or discharge oil or hazardous materials. Industries that discharge into waters covered by the Act must obtain National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permits. Activities that dredge or fill-in waters covered by the Act are subject to Section 404 permitting requirements. Owners and operators of non-transportation-related oil facilities must have oil pollution prevention plans to prevent discharges into waters of the United States. The new definition will be added to the following regulations which affect NPDES permits, Section 404 permits, and Oil Prevention Plans:

  • 33CFR-328: Definition of Waters of the United States
  • 40CFR-110: Discharge of Oil
  • 40CFR-112: Oil Pollution Prevention
  • 40CFR-116: Designation of Hazardous Substances
  • 40CFR-117: Determination of Reportable Quantities for Hazardous Substances
  • 40CFR-122: EPA Administered Permit Programs: The National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System
  • 40CFR-230: Section 404(B)(1) Guidelines for Specification of Disposal Sites for Dredged or Fill Material
  • 40CFR-232: 404 Program Definitions; Exempt Activities Not Requiring 404 Permits
  • 40CFR-300: National Oil and Hazardous Substances Pollution Contingency Plan
  • 40CFR-302: Designation, Reportable Quantities, and Notification
  • 40CFR-401: General Provisions

The new Rule is effective August 28, 2015. Anticipating legal action, the agencies also included the opening date for judicial review (July 13, 2015) in the Rule’s publication in the Federal Register. As Supreme Court Chief Justice Roberts said in the 2006 Rapanos decision (source available here), the Clean Water Act provided “broad, somewhat ambiguous, but nonetheless clearly limiting terms.” Perhaps a future Supreme Court verdict will demonstrate what the Chief Justice thinks of the agencies most recent efforts at “developing some notion of an outer bound to the reach of their authority.”


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

Email Support

Group Training

Email & Phone Support

One-on-One Training

Email & Phone Support

One-on-One training

Email & Phone Support

One-on-One training

Credit Card Credit Card Credit Card Credit Card or Invoice Credit Card or Invoice Credit Card or Invoice

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

Summary Text

Upload of legal register

Public Training Session

5 Users

Summary Text

2hr Annual Training

15 Users

Summary Text

Applicability Text

4 hr Annual Training

Unlimited Users

Summary Text

Applicability Text

8 hr Annual Training

Paid by Credit Card or Invoice Credit Card Credit Card or Invoice Credit Card or Invoice Credit Card or Invoice

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