Understanding global business issues and trends along with existing and evolving EHS issues is key to a safety and health professional’s ability to impact business results. Small businesses as well as multinationals are impacted because supply chains are now global.

Currently several key issues continue to develop where influences from outside the U.S. impact U.S. businesses, both large and small. These include:
  • brand and product integrity,
  • chemicals management,
  • security/terrorism vulnerability,
  • supply chain management,
  • country specific legal and regulatory environments,
  • new voluntary standards and European and Asian chemicals management regulations.
This article focuses on three key strategic issues that should be on the radar screen of every safety and health professional in the U.S. at the moment:
  1. Chemicals management: U.S., Europe, China and the rest of the world;
  2. Occupational Health and Safety Management Systems development: The International Standards Organization (ISO), British Standards (BS) OHSAS 18001/18002 and the American Standards Institute (ANSI) Z10;
  3. Criminal legislation: Canada and the United Kingdom.
Chemicals and hazardous substances
Europe and Asia are driving changes in hazardous substance use in products. This has an impact upon the workers manufacturing the products as well as the consumers who are using them. Safety professionals have the knowledge and skills to identify, quantify, assess and creatively develop control systems to manage risk. This knowledge is inherent in any management system process, and is a transferable skill in the management of any business risk (e.g. implications for nanotechnology) found on your global radar screen. Translate this business skill to your business leadership, and you elevate your value to your company.

Mike Taubitz, General Motors’ technical liaison for emerging global health and safety issues, believes, “Manufacturing ground rules have been forever changed. European and other regulations for waste now impact design of manufactured goods. We don’t normally think of hard goods as being chemicals, but indeed they are.”

The European Union Registration, Evaluation, Authorization of Chemicals (REACH) and Restriction of Hazardous Substances (RoHS) type regulations have spread to Asia.

Operational efficiencies dictate a “one process, one world” manufacturing paradigm, which means that these control measures are voluntarily being adopted in other parts of the world. This paradigm surfaced in the 1990s with the introduction of the EU regulation on use of the “CE” marking for all products manufactured, distributed or imported to the EU. The “CE mark” on a product verifies that it meets EU regulations for product safety and liability. Today, you will find the “CE mark” on products manufactured, distribution and imported around the world, not just in Europe.

This same paradigm is continuing with the EU requirements for managing chemicals. This is beginning to be seen in harmonized voluntary labeling and Material Safety Data requirements and the use of hazardous substances in products. The European REACH regulations require importers, manufacturers and distributors in the EU to manage chemicals (substances, mixtures and articles) used throughout their manufacturing life cycle. In the U.S., articles are exempt for chemical management.

Once again, European regulations are driving voluntary, market and operationally-driven standards and industry lead guidelines everywhere in the world.1 Again, companies are requiring a “one process, one world” approach.

An example in the U.S. is the joint American National Standards Institute (ANSI) and National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) “Manufacturer’s Network on Chemical Regulation.” This network is developing “proactive approaches and risk based tools so that compliance with future regulation is merely part of the way you are already doing business.” In response to their REACH obligations, U.S. businesses are proactively seeking to develop harmonization and guidance tools for a consistent and efficient global approach to global hazardous substance classification, labeling and packaging.2

The ISO 31000 Risk Management Standard
The ISO 31000 Working Group has published a draft Risk Management Standard titled: “Risk management — Guidelines on principles and implementation of risk management.” It can be found athttp://www.nsai.ie/uploads/file/N047_Committee_Draft_of_ISO_31000.pdf

The draft provides generic guidelines on the principles of risk management and its implementation; including risk identification, transparency and internal controls. The draft uses a “common approach in support of standards dealing with specific risks and/or sectors and does not intend to replace those standards” (e.g. ISO 14001 or ISO 9001).3

ISO indicates the standard is not intended for third-party certification, but it will be used as guidance for organizations around the world.4 The global market will determine whether the standard will become a benchmark for certification. In the U.S., UK and Australia, there is existing legislation or Codes of Practice around corporate governance. (e.g. U.S. -Sarbanes Oxley and UK - Combined Code of Practice). Executives in these countries are watching the development of this standard and so should safety professionals. It could become the default management system integration standard for EHS risks.

Here is an update on significant management systems standards activity:

ISO OHSMS:At this time, ISO TMB50/2007 had declined to support a working group on the development of an OHSMS, as a result of responses from a September 2007 survey of ISO member countries. In this void created by a lack of an ISO consensus standard, the British Standard Institute’s (BSI) Occupational Health and Safety Assessment Series (BS OHSAS) 18001:2007 is becoming a recognized global OHSMS standard.5

BS OHSAS 18001:2007 Occupational Health and Safety Management Systems (OHSMS): In 2007, British Standards Institute updated its BS OHSAS 18001:1999 guidance document to an OHSMS standard. The issue for currently registered/certified BS OHSAS 18001:1999 companies is continuance of certification/registration. According to BSI, companies wanting to continue their BS 18001 registration/certification must assure all aspects of BS OHSAS 18001:2007 are met, and the deadline for re-certification/re-registering to BS OHSAS 18001:2007 is June 2009. Companies should contact their current registrar for specific requirements on the transition process.6

BS OHSAS 18002:The BS OHSAS 18002 Project Group met in Bali the first week of March 2008. There were additional inputs that the Project Group will incorporate and circulate in a draft form for final approval. Expect to see a published BS OHSAS 18002 Occupational health and safety management systems— Guidelines for the implementation of OHSAS 18001 document autumn 2008. According to the last draft, OHSAS 18002:2008 is intended to be used as additional guidance, not an implementation or auditor’s guide for BS OHSAS 18001:2007.

ANSI Z10:The American Industrial Hygiene Association (AIHA), the ANSI Z10 Secretariat, is re-initiating the Z10 Occupational Health and Safety Management System standard committee to begin the revision process of the standard in the second half of 2008. Mili Mavely at AIHA is accepting new applications to serve on the ASC ANSI Z10 committee. email:mmavely@aiha.orgor Telephone: + 1-703-846-0794.

Corporate criminal liability legislation
Canada:This year Bill C-45, an amendment to the Criminal Code of Canada, which incorporates criminal liability, was used to convict a Quebec-based company of manslaughter.

Saint-Eustache, a Quebec company, was fined $100,000 (Canadian dollars) March 2008. According to the Canadian HR Reporter, Transpav, this is the first case involving charges for criminal negligence under this amendment, also known as the “corporate killing law.”7 The charge was for intentional disabling of perimeter curtain guarding and the lack of employee safety training that resulted in the death of a 23-year-old worker.

United Kingdom:The UK Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Act 2007 received royal assent on 26 July 2007. The Act states, “a corporation; a department or other body listed in Schedule 1; a police force; a partnership, or a trade union or employers’ association that is an employer” is liable if it “causes a person’s death, and amounts to a gross breach of a relevant duty of care owed by the organisation to the deceased.”8 9 The significance of this legislation is that it extends criminal liability to corporations for workplace deaths.10

To date, there have been no prosecutions under this Act.

1.American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM). March/ April 2008. “Chemical Regulation Challenges Industry: an Interview with Michael Kirschner, Nina McClelland and Michael Taubitz.” ASTM International. Standardization News. West Conshohocken, Pennsylvania. [cited 14 March 2008]http://www.astm.org/cgi-bin/SoftCart.exe/SUPPORT/index.html?L+mystore+mglo0521+12058000
3.ISO/TMB/WG Risk Management. 2007. ISO/CD 31000 Risk Management. [cited March 14 2008].http://www.nsai.ie/uploads/file/N047_Committee_Draft_of_ISO_31000.pdf
4.National Standards Authority of Ireland. 2007. ISO 31000 Risk Management Guidance Standard. [cited February 11, 2008]
5.British Standards Institute. 2007. Occupational Health and Safety Assessment Series 18001: Occupational Health and Safety Management Systems. London, England: British Standards Institute. 2007.
6.Seabrook, Kathy A. “Briefing 2008: Global Safety and Health.” Proceedings of the American Society of Safety Engineers Professional Development Conference. American Society of Safety Engineers. Des Plaines, Il. 2008.
7.Canadian HR Reporter. March 2007. Crown recommends $100,000 fine in first Bill C-45 conviction. HR Reporter.com. [cited March 12, 2008].
8.UK Parliament. 2007. Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Act 2007: Chapter 19. United Kingdom.
9.Seabrook, Kathy A. “Briefing 2008: Global Safety and Health.” Proceedings of the American Society of Safety Engineers Professional Development Conference. American Society of Safety Engineers. Des Plaines, Il. 2008.10.UK Parliament. 2007. Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Act 2007: Chapter 19. United Kingdom.