Auditing – A Valuable Compliance Tool

Is everything in your workplace safe? Have you complied with all the regulations that apply? Are workers following safe procedures at all times? If you can’t say, “yes” to these questions, you may need an audit.

A safety audit is more than a quick look around. It’s defined as a planned and documented observation and evaluation of the workplace, looking at a specific set of behaviours or information. Audits can be targeted at many different safety issues.

    Common issues targeted:
  • General workplace safety, such as eliminating clutter;
  • Technical aspects, such as fire or electrical safety;
  • Procedures such as machine guarding or lockout; and
  • Regulatory compliance, such as occupational health and safety, or transportation regulations.

Keeping track of your observations is important. Auditors will use a checklist of things to look for, and to evaluate them in an objective format. An example of a checklist for office safety can be found on CCOHS’s website. Note that checklists should identify specific issues, and either judge them on a pass/fail scale, or a more detailed format that may grade performance as excellent/satisfactory/poor/unacceptable.

While there are many resources available, your checklist should be customized for your specific workplace. The safety concerns in an office setting are quite different from those in a manufacturing area. Also, generic checklists may not address the regulations that apply to your workplace. For example, a checklist designed for the United States will include Continue Reading…

What do you do for a living?

I always cringe when someone asks me what I do for work. Not because I dislike my job (in fact, I’m one of the few people I know who truly enjoys their work) but because it’s so complicated to explain what I do! Sure, I could simply say I’m a Regulatory Specialist and let them stare at me blankly and try to figure out what that means, but they usually expect more of an explanation.

After going through the explanation for a new acquaintance yesterday, I got to thinking that many of our customers may not know exactly what ICC’s Regulatory Specialists do either. Some of my “regular” customers only deal with one aspect of my expertise, and are often surprised when they learn how many hats I really wear on a regular basis. After 8 years on the job, I have collected many responsibilities to keep me on my toes.

  1. Training – One of the main duties of the Regulatory Specialist (RS) at ICC is to deliver training classes to our customers. For me, this includes the US 49CFR Hazmat regulations, the IATA Dangerous Goods Regulations and the IMDG Code. These classes can take place at our training centers, the customer’s facility, a hotel, or even via an online webinar. Not only do we conduct the training, but we also develop the presentations and quizzes that are Continue Reading…
GHS in the Workplace

The new Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling (GHS) is now ready for worldwide implementation. Many countries have already adopted the GHS, while the USA and Canada are just beginning the task of harmonizing existing regulatory regimes within the GHS framework. Whereas the question on most people’s minds these days is “When will GHS be implemented?” concern should focus on how GHS will affect our commerce and safety in our workplaces. Target audiences for the GHS include consumers, workers, and emergency responders. GHS will benefit these folks. Though for the employer or Environmental, Health & Safety (EHS) Manager, once you’ve educated yourself in GHS principles, expect to spend much time sifting through the data needed to correctly categorize chemicals and their mixtures per the new GHS criteria. You should also expect to spend much money and time applying new GHS labels to chemical containers, reformat existing MSDSs to the sixteen sections Safety Data Sheet (SDS) and retrain workers how to interpret GHS hazard information. Do not expect a GHS shift to magically make your workplace safer, since GHS is not intended to harmonize risk assessment procedures or risk management. This gradual process of GHS assimilation should however eventually help in the decisions process.

The advantage of GHS is the way it identifies the intrinsic hazards found in chemical substances and mixtures and conveys this hazard information Continue Reading…