Permit Required Confined Space Program Misconceptions

 Last month, we discussed common misconceptions about the Lockout/Tagout program. Many similar misconceptions exist about Permit-required Confined Space Programs and affect their implementation. The most common misconceptions are: My employees do not enter permit-required confined spaces; we use contractors, so I do not need a program. For permit-required confined spaces, the host employer performs the following items: Inform the contractor that the workplace contains permit spaces and that permit space entry is allowed only through compliance with a permit space program meeting the requirements of 1910.146. Apprise the contractor of the elements, identified hazards and any experience which makes the space a permit space. Apprise the contractor of any precautions or procedures that have been implemented for the protection of employees in or near permit spaces where contractor personnel will be working. Coordinate entry operations with the contractor. Debrief the contractor at the conclusion of the entry operations regarding
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Lockout/Tagout Program Misconceptions

As an EHS Consultant, I enjoy assisting companies with implementing lockout/tagout and confined space programs. Our clients understand the importance of a strong safety culture and the safety of their employees. They implement safety programs and training, and seek employee buy-in, to achieve the goal of a strong safety culture. They consider the risks employees may be exposed to and identify ways of mitigating those risks and develop their programs accordingly. I often perform audits and gap assessments of our clients’ current company programs and often find that I am addressing many of the same issues across multiple employers. Some of these issues are attributed to confusion on the applicability of the standard. Some common misconceptions are: I don’t need a program because we use contractors to complete maintenance activities and our employees do not perform lockout/tagout. In many cases, you may choose to eliminate lockout/tagout associated risks to your
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It’s Like Groundhog Day All Over Again!

 In honor of Groundhog Day this February, I’m going to describe a “normal” trip that I take on a semi-regular basis.  I received a call from a relatively small manufacturer that was having some environmental issues and received W&M’s name from a contractor that they use.  They asked if I’d come out to take a look.  I happily obliged. Most facilities I visit have many similarities and this facility wasn’t an exception.  On the grounds are a couple of big steel buildings, substantial amounts of concrete in the front, and the rear of the property is largely bare ground.  The steel buildings usually have a crane or two; there is equipment manufactured for oil and gas, shipyards, off-shore platforms, or pipeline facilities.  Some facilities make items for all of these types of industries while some only make items for a single industry. On a typical visit, the same thing happens:
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TRI and P2 APR – Successfully Closing Out This Reporting Season

March reporting deadlines are still on the horizon. While you still have time, watch our uploaded January webinar and review our slides to assist in your first round of reporting. While you’re still finalizing your March reports, be mindful of the July 1st TRI and P2 Annual Progress Report just around the corner. We will host a live lunchtime webinar on March 28th to help you prepare for report requirements, report submittal and best methods for reducing waste and TRI releases. Texas’ Waste Reduction Policy Act of 1991 was adopted to prevent pollution in Texas. The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) adopted the corresponding rule under 30 TAC 335 Subchapter Q, which requires small and large quantity generators of hazardous waste and TRI reporters to prepare a five-year P2 Plan and submit an Executive Summary of the plan to TCEQ. Large quantity generators and TRI reporters are also required
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Owners of the Land Lend a Hand: The Role of Landowners in Endangered Species Recovery

Imperiled species and their habitats are protected under the Endangered Species Act (ESA), administered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services (USFWS) and the National Marine Fisheries Services (NMFS). Threatened and endangered species are afforded the same protection under the Act and are listed solely based on their biological status and threats to their existence. Under the Act, species and their habitats are protected by prohibiting the “take” of listed animals and trade in listed plants and animals. The USFWS and NMFS, along with their partners (including private landowners), also work towards the recovery of species, where the decline of species at risk is mitigated by removing or reducing threats to those populations. In May 2018, the black-capped vireo was removed from the federal threatened and endangered species list.  This small songbird with a black cap and white face mask was listed as federally endangered in 1987 mainly due to
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AWS and Tier II are just Warmups – The TRI/P2 Deadline is Looming

We kicked off this reporting season with our March reporting deadlines, which we covered in our Compliance Reporting webinar. As March is quickly approaching, you can still watch the uploaded webinar and review our slides to assist in your first round of reporting. It’s not over just yet – the July 1st TRI and P2 Annual Progress Report deadlines will be here before you know it. We will host a live lunchtime webinar on March 28th to provide essential information such as requirements to report, data gathering and the preparation and submittal of these reports so you can be prepared and start early! The Toxic Release Inventory (TRI) program requires regulated industries to report certain toxic chemicals that are released to the environment.  The TRI reporting program is often referred to as Section 313 of the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA) which was passed by Congress in 1986. 
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Key Factors in a Successful Remediation Project

We have previously discussed spill response activities for Sites where an active release occurred and identified key factors in addressing spills.  For historical release Sites that were not addressed or Sites which have undergone insufficient remediation of contaminated media (soil, surface water, groundwater), it is important to formulate a complete Site remedial strategy to establish what the end goal will be for site clean-up. Utilizing regulatory guidance, along with identified Site-specific characteristics, allows for flexibility in site clean-up approaches. Consistent Strategy. It is very important to establish what the key drivers are for the Site-specific contaminants.  Whether it is crude oil, condensate, refined product, produced water, or stored materials on Site — developing a sampling program to address the extent of affected media will allow for consistency in evaluating data and presenting information to the regulatory agency.  It is equally important to develop consistent field screening methods and action levels to
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Too Many Cooks in the Kitchen?

Keeping your project on track when you have stakeholder involvement You’re an environmental manager for your company, and you learn that a contractor doing repair work has caused a release from one of your pipelines which is located on private property.  You report the spill to the authorities, notify the landowner, and initiate cleanup activities.  The contractor files a claim with their insurance carrier. Following initial response actions, soil and groundwater is investigated and cleanup goals are established.  It sounds straightforward until the various stakeholders get involved.  The stakeholders include the construction contractor, their insurance company, the insurance company’s consultant, the regulatory agency, and the landowner, in addition to you and your environmental consultant.  All parties want the spill cleaned up but have different goals and objectives. In another case, no one knows exactly when the spill, or multiple spills, occurred, but the cleanup has been underway for years. Initial
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Avoiding Pitfalls in Environmental Reporting

We at W&M, somewhat affectionately, refer to the time period of January 1 – July 1 as “Reporting Season” due to the myriad of compliance deadlines all crammed into that timeframe.  As you will recall, it all begins on March 1 with the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA) Tier II reporting and Annual Waste Summary (AWS) reporting deadline.  Shortly after is the March 31 deadline for Air Emissions Inventory Reporting (AEIR) and the Multi-Sector General Permit (MSGP) Stormwater Pollution Prevention Plan (SWP3) annual reporting.  As you would expect, there are a number of pitfalls that you will want to avoid when completing your reporting.  We’ll discuss more during the January Webinar, but here are a few to get you started: Pitfall #1:  Quality of Information Not all information is created equal and not all information is good information.  When gathering data, it is important to be specific as
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Proposed Changes to the Endangered Species Act

ASSESSMENTS AND ECONOMIC CONSIDERATIONS In July of this year, the federal government proposed an amendment to the Endangered Species Act (ESA) that redefines/streamlines the procedures and criteria for listing and delisting endangered species and designating critical habitat.  There are a handful of amendments that are proposed but the overall direction points to allowing the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) to make unique or tailored assessments based on the species, habitat, region, etc. when deciding to list or delist a species. Additionally, the ESA currently states that it will not take economic or other impacts into consideration when listing, delisting, or reclassifying a species.  That is not being changed at this time.  However, under the proposed amendments, the FWS acknowledges that there is value in referencing economic or other considerations such as ambient air studies, cost/benefits analysis, etc. By clarifying the criteria for critical habitat designations, the proposed changes aim
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