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North America

UNITED STATES

FEDERAL
Executive Order 13777 directs agencies to establish task forces to reduce unnecessary regulatory burden
Companies may experience more environmental, health and safety deregulation in the future under another presidential executive order. President Donald Trump recently signed Executive Order (EO) 13777, entitled "Enforcing the Regulatory Reform Agenda." The EO requires each non-exempt agency to establish both a Regulatory Reform Officer (RRO) and a Regulatory Reform Task Force with the stated goal of alleviating unnecessary regulatory burdens.

ARIZONA
Governor Ducey reissues moratorium on regulatory rulemaking
On 23 January 2017, Arizona Governor Doug Ducey reissued his moratorium on all new regulatory rulemaking by state agencies without prior written approval. Executive Order 2017-02 prohibits all state agencies from conducting any new rulemaking. In the Executive Order, Governor Ducey stated that burdensome regulations inhibit job growth and economic development, particularly job creators and entrepreneurs.

HAWAII
Companies could potentially offset greenhouse gas emissions by purchasing credits from State reforestation project
Companies that engage in any activity powered by fossil fuels that emit greenhouse gases may be able to offset emissions by supporting the restoration of Hawaiian forests. The Division of Forestry and Wildlife (DOFAW) is considering growing trees that will in turn allow the agency to provide an opportunity for the public to purchase credits. The DOFAW seeks options to create a carbon forestry project in the Pu’u Mali Restoration Area in the Mauna Kea Forest Reserve on Hawaii island. If the project is fully implemented, companies could be able to buy carbon credits directly from the State of Hawaii.

RHODE ISLAND
Proposed carbon price would make RI first US state to tax fossil fuels
On 3 February 2017, an act was introduced in the Rhode Island General Assembly that, if passed, would make Rhode Island the first U.S. state to institute a price on all fossil fuels entering Rhode Island. House Bill #5369, titled "Energize Rhode Island: Clean Energy Investment and Carbon Pricing Act of 2017" would place a $15 fee on each ton of carbon dioxide or other greenhouse gases emitted from the burning of a fossil fuel that is sold in Rhode Island.
The fuels covered would include propane, gasoline, kerosene, heating oil, diesel fuel and jet fuel.

NEW YORK
DEC reissues emergency rule and adopts permanent rule to identify PFOA-acid, PFOA-salt, PFOS-acid and PFOS-salt as hazardous substances
On 1 February 2017, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) reissued an emergency rulemaking that adds four chemical substances to the List of Hazardous Substances in 6 NYCRR Section 597.3. The emergency rulemaking is effective as of 12 January 2017 and remains in effect until 12 March 2017. Facilities with existing storage are not required to comply with the handling and storage requirements until 25 April 2018. Simultaneously, the DEC adopted a permanent regulation to list the four chemical substances to the List of Hazardous Substances. The final rule is effective as of 3 March 2017, and the terms are identical to those of the emergency rulemaking.

CANADA

FEDERAL
Canada Federal is coming out with a lot of notices either revising or proposing to revise significant new activity notification requirements. Environment and Climate Change Canada along with Health Canada is in the process of reviewing all significant new activity notices that were adopted between 2001 and 2014.

For example:

1/ In November 2016, Environment and Climate Change Canada proposed an order to modify existing significant new activity (SNAc) notification requirements for six substances, including Methoxychlor (CAS No. 72-43-5), Chlorothalonil (CAS No. 1897-45-6), and Pentachlorophenol (CAS No. 87-86-5) and to apply those SNAc provisions to 19 additional substances, including Piperonyl butoxide (CAS No. 51-03-6), Captan (CAS No. 133-06-2), and Dichlorvos (CAS No. 62-73-7). The order would target the use of the 25 substances at an amount greater than 100 kilograms in a calendar year in any activity, including the use of the substance as:

  • a research and development substance,
  • a site-limited intermediate substance, or
  • an export-only substance.

2/ On 11 February 2017, Environment and Climate Change Canada rescinded Significant New Activity (SNAc) Notice No. 15796 pertaining to cyclopentane, 1,1,2,2,3,3,4-heptafluoro- (CAS No. 15290-77-4), a hydrofluorocarbon (HFC). With the adoption of the Ozone-depleting Substances and Halocarbon Alternatives Regulations, which came into force on 29 December 2016, the agency will receive information on all HFCs, not just the one previously covered by the SNAc notice.

ONTARIO
Large office buildings and warehouses required to annually report energy consumption, water use, and greenhouse gas emissions
Companies that own certain buildings with over 50,000 square feet in gross floor area must report the building's energy consumption, water use, and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions annually. The Ontario Ministry of Energy (Ministry) enacted the Reporting of Energy and Water Usage regulation that requires owners of certain buildings to report water and energy usage. The regulation applies to office buildings and warehouses, but not to manufacturing facilities. The regulation phases in the reporting requirements for buildings over three years. The following buildings would be required to report according to the following timeline:

  • 1 July 2018: commercial and industrial buildings with a gross floor area of at least 250,000 sq.ft.;
  • 1 July 2019: commercial, industrial and multi-unit residential buildings with a gross floor area of at least 100,000 sq.ft.; and
  • 1 July 2020: commercial, industrial and multi-unit residential buildings with a gross floor area of at least 50,000 sqft but less than 100,000 sq.ft.

BRITISH COLUMBIA
WorkSafeBC adopts amendments to workplace standards for lead and respirable crystalline silica and rock dust
Effective 1 May 2017, companies must comply with amendments to substance-specific requirements for lead and respirable crystalline silica (RCS) and rock dust in Part 6 of the Occupational Health and Safety Regulation (OHSR). WorkSafeBC adopted amendments to the substance-specific requirements in OHSR. The new requirements extend the requirements for rock dust to apply to RCS and also introduced new requirements for these substances. Additionally, WorkSafeBC adopted new requirements for lead that impact risk assessments and exposure control plans.

Central & Latin America

CHILE

Employers would not be allowed to contact their employees through electronic means out of working hours if a draft Law is adopted
Upon the adoption of a draft Law currently subject to parliamentary procedure in the Chamber of Deputies of Chile (Cámara de los Diputados de Chile), employers would not be allowed to contact their employees for labor matters, by digital or electronic means, outside working hours; in other words, employees would have the right to disconnect (derecho a desconexión). However, under the draft it would be possible for employers to negotiate the real extent of this right with employees in the corresponding collective agreement (convenio colectivo), leaving this way the possibility to adapt the Law to the particularities of each company. In Chile, the processing of a draft Law is not subject to any time limit. The time to approve each draft Law depends on the difficulties found at its approval stages.

The company should be aware of a draft Law currently subject to parliamentary procedure, according to which it would not be allowed to contact its employees for labor matters, by digital or electronic means, outside working hours. However, the company would be able to negotiate in the corresponding collective agreement during which time frame the above mentioned right to disconnect would apply in order to adapt the right to the company's specific particularities.

Companies whose employees perform high-risk activities could be required to include them in their internal order, health, and safety regulation

Upon the adoption of a draft Law currently subject to parliamentary procedure in the Chamber of Deputies in Chile (Cámara de los Diputados de Chile), companies employing at least 200 workers would be required to include in their internal order, health and safety regulation (reglamento interno de orden, higiene y seguridad) a list of high-risk activities and the names of workers performing such activities. Under the draft Law high-risk activities would be those that, according to the type of activity, constitute a risk to the life or to the psychic or physical integrity of the worker. As a consequence, only appointed workers would be entitled to perform those high-risk activities for which they have been appointed. In Chile, there is not any time limit to adopt a draft Law. The time to approve each draft Law depends on the difficulties found at its approval stages.

If the company employs at least 200 employees and if any of them performs high-risk activities, it could be required to include in its internal order, health and safety regulation the list of those activities and the names of the workers performing them if a draft law currently subject to parliamentary procedure is adopted. High-risk activities would be those that constitute a risk to the life or to the psychic or physical integrity of the worker. As a consequence, only workers appointed by the company would be entitled to perform high-risk activities for which they have been appointed.

BRAZIL

Requirements on safety of dams reviewed
Since 7 February 2017, operators of dams must comply with revised requirements related to the content of the dam safety plan (Plano de Segurança da Barragem – PSB) and of the emergency action plan (Plano de Ação de Emergência – PAE), and to the frequency of inspections and of the review of the dam safety (Revisão Periódica de Segurança de Barragem- RPSB). For some dams, the inspections are less frequent and the RPSB must be carried out after extended periods. This follows from ANA Resolution 236/2017 implementing provisions Law 12.334 on the National Policy on Safety of Dams (PNSB), which applies to dams for the accumulation of water, regardless of use; temporary or final disposal of waste; and accumulation of industrial waste that fulfills at least one of the requirements established in Article 1 of Law 12.334/2010 (such as 15 or more meters in height and a reservoir with at least 3,000,000 m3 of capacity). Operators of dams filled for the first time before 7 February 2018 have to comply with the revised requirements by 7 February 2018.

ARGENTINA

List of chemical substances considered as narcotics and drug precursors updated
Companies carrying out activities involving any of the 62 chemicals added to the list of chemicals substances considered as narcotics or drug precursors by Decree 69/2017 must register with the National Register of Chemical Precursors (Registro Nacional de Precursores Químicos - RENPRE). These 62 substances include, among other, acetylfentanyl, ethyl chloride, nifoxipam, and pentedrone).

DOMINICAN REPUBLIC

Updated registration and documentation requirements for certain waste generators and manufacturers of certain products proposed
In the future, upon the adoption of a draft Law, generators of certain amount and/or types of waste and manufacturers of certain products, would have to register and submit a Waste Management Plan (Plan de Manejo de Residuos) to the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources (Ministerio de Medio Ambiente y Recursos Naturales). Specifically, big generators of solid waste, big and small producers of hazardous waste or waste with special treatment and manufacturers, importers, exporters and distributers of products that after use become hazardous waste (such as used lubricant oil, electric batteries containing mercury or nickel-cadmium, pharmaceutical etc.) would be subject to the above-mentioned obligations. Importers and exporters of waste would need an authorization (autorización) from the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources. This follows from a draft Law on the integrated management of solid waste tabled for parliamentary procedure on 1 February 2017 in the House of Representatives (Cámara de Representantes).

Under the draft Law, big generators of solid waste would be those that generate 10 tons or more of solid waste per year and a big or small generator would be those generating between 400 kilograms and fewer than 10 tons per year. Waste with special treatment would include waste originated from health services (human and animal), transport services (such as ports and airports), and discarded electrical and electronic equipment, among others.

COLOMBIA

Legislation for the integrated management of chemical substances of industrial use proposed
In the future, manufacturers and importers of chemical substances for industrial use would have to identify and classify the hazards of such substances according to the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals, carry out self-risk assessment and design programs for the management of risks to human health and the environment. This follows from a draft decree on the management of chemical substances published by the Ministry of Environment and Sustainable Development, expected to be adopted in the coming months.

If the facility manufactures or imports chemical substances for industrial use, it would have to register them in the Registry of Chemical Substances for Industrial Use (Registro de Sustancias Químicas de Uso Industrial) as well as their potential uses in Colombia. To do so, manufacturers and importers would have to identify and classify the hazards of such substances according to the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals (GHS), to carry out a self-risk assessment for human health and the environment, and design and implement a program for the management of risks to human health and the environment.
If the facility is a retailer, distributor or a user of these substances, it would have to request from manufacturers and importers the classification of hazards and the safety data sheet (SDS) and carry out the measures that correspond to it according to the programs for the reduction and management of risks.

MEXICO

MEXICO CITY
Generators of used oil to separate the used oil and comply with specific requirements such as record keeping and labeling requirements
Facilities generating waste animal or vegetable oils and fats coming from industrial production processes would have to separate them and collect them in separate containers that would have to be labeled in accordance with NOM-018-STPS-2000 or the newer version, NOM-018-STPS-2015. This follows from Draft Environmental Standard PROY-NADF-012-2015, which would impose more specific requirements on facilities generating waste animal or vegetable oils and fats from their production processes and also on those collecting, transporting and recycling them.

If the company generates waste animal or vegetable oils and fats from production processes, it would have to separate such waste from the generating source and store such oils and fats in separate containers with lids, according to Draft Environmental Standard PROY-NADF-012-2015. Moreover, such containers would have to be labeled according to NOM-018-STPS-2000 or the newer version, NOM-018-STPS-2015. Additionally, the company would have to have the safety data sheets (hojas de datos de seguridad - SDS) of the oils and fats in the place where such containers are stored before their collection. The company would also have to:

  • keep a logbook for registering the information regarding the generation, storing and handing over of the waste oils and fats to the service provider, the logbook needing to contain the information required in Annex I; 
  • install retention traps for the fats and oils in accordance with the proposal; 
  • implement a revision, cleaning and maintenance program for the retention traps for the fats and oils (programa de revisión, limpieza, y mantenimiento de las trampas de retención de grasas y aceites), the information being registered in the above mentioned logbook; 
  • have the certificate of proof of delivery-reception (constancia de entrega-recepción) of oils and fats as well as the contract with a service provider; and 
  • report the generated quantity of waste animal or vegetable oils and fats when renewing the Single Environmental License (Licencia Ambiental Única), those not subject to the Single Environmental License must report such information through a solid management plan to the General Directorate of Environmental Regulation (Dirección General de Regulación Ambiental)

Energy efficiency for external power supply sources proposed
Importers and manufacturers of external power supply sources (AC power adapters) would have to comply with the minimum energy efficiency values for operation and not exceed the maximum limits of electric power in no-load mode in order to obtain the certificate of compliance in accordance with Draft Official Mexican Standard PROY-NOM-029-ENER-2016. Draft Official Mexican Standard PROY-NOM-029-ENER-2016 also establishes marking and labeling requirements for the AC power adapters depending on whether the AC power adapter is part of or an accessory of a final product, or whether the AC power adapter is sold individually. Draft Official Mexican Standard PROY-NOM-029-ENER-2016 is currently under public consultation, and companies can submit their comments until 3 February 2017.

Importers and manufacturers of external power supply sources (also known as AC power adapters) would have to comply with the minimum energy efficiency values for operation, the maximum limits of electric power in no-load mode, and the marking and labeling requirements in order to obtain the certificate of compliance in accordance with Draft Official Mexican Standard PROY-NOM-029-ENER-2016. Draft Official Mexican Standard PROY-NOM-029-ENER-2016 is currently in the public consultation phase, and the company can submit its comments until 3 February 2017.

 

Europe

 

EUROPEAN UNION

Public consultation on proposed inclusion of seven substances in the Authorization List
Until 2 June 2017, interested companies can comment on ECHA’s draft eighth recommendation to include SVHC into Annex XIV of the REACH Regulation (Authorization List). ECHA’s draft recommendation includes seven substances, such as NMP (CAS 872-50-4), UV-327 (CAS 3864-99-1), UV-350) (CAS 36437-37-3) and UV-320 (CAS 3846-71-7). If any of these seven substances is included in the Authorization List, companies would have to obtain an authorization from the European Commission or halt its manufacture, marketing and use by the applicable sunset date. Depending on the substance, ECHA would propose that companies would have to apply for an authorization 18, 21 or 24 months after its inclusion in the Authorization List.

Information on downstream use of authorized SVHC published
Since 1 March 2017, companies can consult data on downstream uses of authorized substances of very high concern (SVHC) notified to the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) by the end of 2016. Downstream users located in 16 EU Member States notified 233 uses of five authorized SVHC (such as hexabromocyclododecane (HBCDD) (CAS 3194-55-6, 25637-99-4), bis(2-ethylhexyl)phthalate (DEHP) (CAS 117-81-7) and dibutyl phthalate (DBP) (CAS 84-74-2)). ECHA published this data solely for informative purposes.

EU Commission not to amend rules for authorizing endocrine disruptors (ED) under the REACH Regulation
Manufacturers of products containing endocrine disruptors (ED) and downstream users of these substances will not face further authorization requirements. This follows from a report from the European Commission stating the existing authorization rules for ED under the REACH Regulation will remain unchanged in the future. As currently, companies applying for an authorization for their use are required to demonstrate that their benefits outweigh any risks unless they can show there is a clear threshold below which there are no adverse effects. If a threshold is identified, companies applying for an authorization for ED are responsible for demonstrating it.

Manufacture, use and marketing of decaBDE and articles containing decaBDE restricted at EU level
As of 2 March 2019, the manufacture, placing on the market and use of bis(pentabromophenyl) ether (decaBDE) (CAS 1163-19-5) and articles containing decaBDE is prohibited. This follows from Regulation EU/2017/227 adding a new entry to Annex XVII to the REACH Regulation. The restriction applies to the manufacture and marketing of decaBDE as a substance on its own as well as a constituent of another substance or mixture, and to articles or their parts containing decaBDE in a concentration greater than 0.1 percent by weight. Exemptions apply to, among others, electrical and electronic articles (EEE) and spare parts for machinery produced before 2 March 2019.

New information obligations to be met by companies after the inclusion of four SVHC in the Candidate List
Chemical manufacturers and importers are subject to additional information requirements following the inclusion of four substances in the Candidate List of Substances of Very High Concern (Candidate List of SVHC) on 12 January 2017. The four new substances on the Candidate List are bisphenol A (BPA) (CAS 80-05-7), PFDA and its sodium and ammonium salts (CAS 335-76-2, 3830-45-3, 3108-42-7), p-(1,1-dimethylpropyl)phenol (CAS 80-46-6), and 4-heptylphenol, branched and linear. Additionally, companies might have to obtain an authorization to be able to use any of these four substances, if they are added to the 'Authorization List' in the future. This development is relevant for companies placing on the market and/or using any of the four substances added to the Candidate List of SVHC.

ROMANIA

Restrictions on the use of four phthalates in EEE adopted
As of 22 July 2019, electric and electronic equipment (EEE) placed on the market in Romania cannot contain DEHP (CAS 117-81-7), BBP (CAS 85-68-7), DBP (CAS 84-74-2) or DIBP (CAS 84-69-5). For medical devices and measuring and control instruments, this ban applies as of 22 July 2021. This follows on from the adoption of Governmental Decision no. 897/2016 transposing Directive EU/2015/863 amending Annex II to Directive 2011/65/EU as regards the list of restricted substances. An exception applies to the use of these substances in quantities not exceeding 0.1 percent by weight in homogeneous materials.

BULGARIA

EIA procedure streamlined
Since 3 February 2017, developers of projects likely to cause significant environmental impacts have to comply with the upgraded requirements of the environmental impact assessment (EIA) procedure for investment proposals. This follows from the Law on Changes and Amendments of the Environmental Protection Law OJ 12/03.02.2017, which changes the list of investment proposals requiring an obligatory EIA, the documents investors must provide to the environmental authorities to assess the need to perform an EIA and the content of the EIA report. EIA procedures started before this date are not impacted. The Law also updates the definitions of “EIA” and “cumulative impacts”.

Energy efficiency requirements for buildings revised
Since 30 December 2016, owners of new buildings must obtain an energy performance certificate (сертификат за енергийни характеристики на нова сграда) within three and six years from its commissioning. This follows from the Law on Changes and Amendments of the Law on Energy Efficiency which also establishes different intervals for mandatory periodic energy efficiency inspection of heating systems with hot water boilers depending on their capacity and the type of energy used. Companies are also no longer required to carry out energy efficiency audits of industrial and outdoor lighting systems.

ITALY

Extension of the transitional double waste traceability system and reduction of SISTRI-related sanctions
Companies generating hazardous waste must comply with the current transitional "binary" waste traceability system until 31 December 2017 instead of 31 December 2016. This follows on from the adoption of Law-Decree n.244 of 30 December 2016, which, among other things, postpones certain deadlines. Under the so-called milleproroghe Decree, waste operators involved in the life-cycle of hazardous waste (which includes hazardous waste generators, treatment operators, waste collectors, and transporters) must comply with both the electronic waste traceability requirements (sistema della tracciabilità dei rifiuti - the SISTRI) and the "old" paper-based waste traceability system until 31 December 2017. Law-Decree n.244 of 30 December 2016 also halves the amount of some SISTRI-related sanctions until 31 December 2017 (for example, sanctions related to the failure to adequately register with the SISTRI).

Criteria adopted on the classification of production-remains as by-product or waste
As of 2 March 2017, companies that carry out production activities must comply with new rules concerning the classification of production-remains as either "by-product" or waste. This follows on from the adoption of Ministerial Decree n.264 of 13 October 2016, which sets out criteria to identify by-products and the management of the life-cycles of such by-products. This means that companies have the possibility of re-using certain objects and substances that originate from their production processes, instead of undertaking waste treatment activities. Companies must guarantee that the production-remains deriving from their activities fulfil the requirements set out in Ministerial Decree n.264 of 13 October 2016. For example, companies must make sure that the substances or objects (production remains) result from and are an integral part of a production process and that further use of such substance or object in the same or a future production process is certain (certezza dell'utilizzo). In order to ensure that a by-product is intended to be reused and does not become waste, the producer is required to complete:

  • a technical form (scheda tecnica), where the characteristics and the potential end-use of the by-product are identified, and
  • a declaration of conformity with the applicable requirements.

Affected companies must also follow specific procedures concerning the handling, transporting and storing of a by-product, as identified in Ministerial Decree n.264 of 13 October 2016.

SPAIN

Manufacturers and importers of plastic bags would have to comply with stricter requirements if a draft Royal Decree is adopted
Upon the adoption of a draft Royal Decree currently subject to public consultation, manufacturers of plastic bags would have to comply with registration and reporting obligations for the first time. Specifically, manufacturers of plastic bags would have to register in the Register of producers of products associated with the management of waste (Registro de productores de productos asociado a la gestión de los residuos) managed by the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries, Food and Environment (Ministerio de Agricultura y Pesca, Alimentación y Medio Ambiente) within one month from the entry into force of the draft Royal Decree. It is important to note that manufacturers of batteries and accumulators and of electric and electronic equipment also would have to register in such register instead of in the specific sections of the Integrated Industrial Register (Registro Industrial Integrado). In addition, they would have to report every year, before 31 of May, information related to the number of plastic bags sold during the previous year to the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries, Food and Environment. In addition, the draft Royal Decree would establish additional measures to reduce the consumption of plastic bags, such as the prohibition for retail shops to deliver them for free or the prohibition to market oxodegradable plastic bags starting on 1 January 2018

Even though unlikely, if the company, in the framework of its activity manufactures or markets plastic bags, it should note that a draft Royal Decree that would establish registration and reporting obligations for manufacturers and prohibitions for marketers of plastic bags has been subject to public consultation. Under the draft Royal Decree manufacturers of plastics bags would have to register with the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries, Food and Environment (Ministerio de Agricultura y Pesca, Alimentación y Medio Ambiente) and submit every year before the 31 of May information on the plastic bags marketed during the previous year. In addition, among others, the draft Royal Decree would prohibit the marketing of oxodegradable plastic bags starting on 1 January 2018. If the company wishes to submit comments on the public consultation it should note that the closure date for the receipt of comments is 23 January 2017.

MALTA

Stricter alcohol limits for drivers and increased sanctions proposed
Companies would have to ensure that any person driving road vehicles they own or manage would not be under the influence of alcohol exceeding the stricter concentration limits established in the draft Traffic Regulation Ordinance [Amendment] Act, 2017. Drivers of commercial vehicles and those in the possession of a probationary driving licence would be subject to new specific limits. Those allowing a non-licensed driver to drive a vehicle they own or manage could be subject to increased fines or up to one year of imprisonment. The Parliament is expected to discuss the draft Ordinance in the following weeks.

Large public-interest companies with more than 500 employees subject to mandatory CSR reporting
Since 1 January 2017, public-interest companies that, during a given financial year, exceed on their balance-sheet an average of 500 employees and have a balance sheet total of more than EUR 20,000,000 or a net turnover of more than EUR 40,000,000 are required to disclose information on non-financial matters such as environmental information, data on social and employee-policies, compliance with human rights, and anti-corruption and anti-bribery actions. This follows from the Companies Act and other Laws (Amendment) Act, 2016 (Act LIV of 2016) transposing Directive 2014/95/EU into Maltese law.

PORTUGAL

Employers could be fined in case of harassment at the workplace
Employers could be required to adopt measures to prevent harassment at the workplace, according to several draft laws currently under discussion at the National Assembly (Assembleia da República – AR). In case a worker complains of harassment, employers would have to provide evidence the claim is not founded. In case of harassment, employers could be subject to a fine, the value of which would vary according to their annual turnover before expenses and taxes, and be listed in a new public register of offenders. Employers could also have to include a note on their conviction on employment adds.

BELGIUM

Flemish region: Area permit procedure to enter into force on 23 February 2017
From 23 February 2017, companies will be able to apply for an integrated area permit, replacing the need to separately apply for a construction and environmental permit. The application can be completely carried out online. Area permits will not be subject to duration limits (they must not be renewed). However, competent authorities will periodically evaluate the environmental conditions that they contain in order to ensure that they are fit for the type of installation they apply to. Companies will also be able to request a project meeting if an area permit concerns a project with a complex nature. Lastly, companies holding environmental permits will be given the opportunity to convert their current permit into an area permit if certain requirements are met.

Walloon Region: Major amendments made to the provisions on the energy performance of buildings
Since 1 January 2017, companies carrying out major renovations must ensure that they meet the energy performance requirements on the systems (exigences systèmes) in their buildings. This follows on from the adoption of the Walloon Order of 15 December 2016 amending the Walloon Order of 15 May 2014 which implements the Decree of 28 November 2013 on the energy performance of buildings. The amending Order of 15 December 2016 makes amendments to the required energy performance of systems and the calculation methods for determining the energy performance of buildings.

FRANCE

Single environmental permit adopted
As of 1 March 2017, operators carrying out activities subject to several different environmental permits, among which, the permit for the operation of high-risk activities, the permit under the water nomenclature the tree felling permit, the building permit and the derogation to the interdiction to operate in nature reserves or in historical and natural sites, will be able to apply to one single environmental permit to be submitted to the local Prefect of the Department in which the installation is located. The application for a single permit will replace all the procedures for the granting of the environmental permits listed above and allow the same level of protection for the environment. The single permit will become compulsory as of 30 June 2017. Transitional provisions will continue to apply to buildings permit application made before 1 March 2017. The adoption of a single permit follows regional experimentations carried out since 2014. 

 

Africa

KENYA

Facilities that import or manufacture electrical appliances must now comply with new registration and labelling requirements
As of 15 July 2016, facilities that manufacture or import regulated electrical appliances must register the appliance model with the Energy Regulatory Commission. The Energy (Appliances' Energy Performance and Labelling) Regulations, 2016, implements provisions of the Energy (Energy Management) Regulations, 2012 by promoting efficient use of energy. The Appliances Regulations also ensures that the manufacture, import, distribution and testing of regulated electrical appliances is in compliance with Kenya Standard known as Minimum Energy Performance Standards (MEPS). In addition to the registration requirements, under the Appliances Regulations, every importer must also affix an energy label on every appliance that has been registered. Examples of appliances subject to registration and labelling requirements include: self-ballasted lamps, double capped fluorescent lamps or refrigerating appliances.

GHANA

Uncertified electricians will no longer be allowed to undertake electrical wiring after January 2017
Starting January 2017, electricians will no longer be allowed to operate without a wiring certificate from the Electricity Company of Ghana (ECG) or the Ghana Electrical Contractors Association or other similar body recognized by a licensed electricity distribution utility. In an effort to protect life and property and uphold professional standards, the Energy Commission announced that it will ban all uncertified electricians, and electricians who violate the directive by operating without a wiring certificate face 60 penalty units and up to two years’ imprisonment.

SOUTH AFRICA

Employers will soon be required to develop an ergonomic program for employees and other persons who may be exposed to ergonomic risk factors
Facilities carrying out work at a workplace which may expose any person to physical or cognitive ergonomic risk factors will soon be required to implement a training programme in accordance with the Draft Ergonomics Regulations, published on 27 January 2017. Once the Draft Ergonomics Regulations are adopted, employers would be required to provide adequate information, instructions and training to employees and other persons who may be affected by ergonomic risk factors at the workplace. This training will have to be carried out before the placement of the relevant employees. The Draft Ergonomics Regulations also include specific provisions to eliminate ergonomic risk factors that are applicable to facilities that design, manufacture, erect, install or supply machinery, equipment or articles for use at work. Ergonomic risk factors refer to actions in the workplace, workplace conditions, or a combination thereof, which may cause or aggravate a work related musculoskeletal disorder. Interested persons have until 27 April 2017 to submit written comments on the Draft Regulations to the Department of Labour.

MOROCCO

Polyethylene (PE) subject to import control
On 29 November 2016, Decree No. 2950.16 of 2016 added Polyethylene (PE) to the list of goods subject to quantitative import and export restrictions. The List of Goods subject to quantitative import and export restrictions was introduced by Order No. 1308-94 of 19 April 1994 which requires an import or export license for the import or export of products listed in its annexes I and II.
- Annex I lists the materials subject to an import license and it includes mercury thermometers attached to other devices as well as asbestos.
- Annex II, on the other hand, imposes an export license requirement on the export of other products, as well as the export of asbestos.

As such, importers in Morocco, must comply with additional requirements concerning their import operations. For example, if the facility intends to import Polyethylene (PE), it must submit a user certificate (certificat d’utilisation) and a recapitulative statement (état récapitulatif détaillé) on the importation operations of Polyethylene electronically via PORTNET (الشباك الوطني الوحيد لتبسيط مساطر التجارة الخارجية).

ALGERIA

Additional requirements for companies handling hazardous chemicals and materials as well as pressurized gas containers
On 9 February 2017, Order of 29 December 2016 on the updated procedure to obtain accreditation (اعتماد مسبق) from the Ministry of Energy for handling hazardous chemicals or materials as well as pressurized gas containers, was published.

Order of 29 December 2016 amends article 4, 6 and 14 of Order of 8 July 2014 establishing the conditions and procedures for accrediting companies and personnel conducting activities that require the use of hazardous chemicals and materials as well as pressurized gas containers.

As a novelty, under Order of 29 December 2016, the probity or reliability of the managers, associates and the staff that are going to handle the hazardous chemicals became a criterion to grant the accreditation.

In addition to that, under the amended provisions, the associates of the manager must now present their nationality certificate. This is in addition to their valid criminal records and certificates proving their qualifications to carry out work with hazardous chemicals. Under the old provisions, only the managers were required to present the above-mentioned documents.

 

Asia-Pacific

 

INDIA

Facilities may soon be prohibited from engaging adolescent workers in hazardous occupations and processes
Facilities employing adolescent workers who have not yet completed eighteen years of age may soon be prohibited from engaging them in any of the hazardous occupations and processes specified under the revised list of the hazardous occupations and processes. On 31 January, 2017, the Ministry of Labour and Employment issued a Draft Notification on review of the Schedule of hazardous occupations and processes listed in the Child and Adolescent Labour (Prohibition and Regulations) Act, 1986. The current Act specifies three types of occupations and processes; mines, inflammable substances/explosives and hazardous processes as hazardous occupations and processes, in which engagement of adolescents is prohibited. The revised Schedule of Draft Notification contains an additional, extended and revised list of hazardous occupations and processes. Once adopted, facilities would be prohibited from employing adolescents in any of the occupations and processes listed in the Schedule (e.g. chemical industry where lead and its compounds are manufactured or handled) of the Child and Adolescent Labour (Prohibition and Regulations) Act, 1986.

SINGAPORE

Large greenhouse gases emitters may soon become subject to carbon taxes
By 2019, large direct emitters of greenhouse gases (GHGs) would be subject to a carbon tax, if the plan to implement the tax is adopted. The Government of Singapore is in the process of implementing a carbon tax that would apply on large GHG emitters such as power stations, petrochemical facilities, and semiconductor makers. The Government has indicated its intention to carry out a public consultation on the plan to implement a carbon tax this month (i.e., March 2017) but has not provided the specific date. If adopted, this will become Southeast Asia's first carbon tax.

THAILAND

Nineteen new substances to be regulated by the Department of Industrial Works: manufacturers and possessors of these substances to obtain a permit
Companies manufacturing, possessing, or importing certain hazardous substances would soon be required to obtain a permit from the Department of Industrial Works (DIW). The DIW proposed to add new 19 hazardous substances not yet included in the list of hazardous substances controlled by the DIW such as perfluorooctane sulfonic acid (CAS No. 1763-23-1), didecyldimethyl ammonium perfluorooctane sulfonate (CAS No. 251099-16-8), and diethanolammonium perfluorooctane sulfonate (CAS No. 70225-14-8). The DIW is receiving comments on this proposal until 28 February 2017.

VIETNAM

Companies are required to organize an annual occupational health and safety month
As of 6 April 2017, companies are required to organize an occupational health and safety (OHS) month at their facilities as specified under the Circular No. 02/2017/TT-BLDTBXH adopted on 20 February 2017. Under the Circular No. 02/2017/TT-BLDTBXH, companies must prepare a plan for specific activities regarding OHS at their facilities. Companies must ensure that their internal rules, regulations on occupational safety are reviewed and updated in compliance with current relevant regulations (e.g. Labor Code 2012, Law on Occupational Health and Safety of 2015). For machinery and equipment subject to strict OHS requirements, companies must ensure that they are inspected and regularly checked as prescribed by law (e.g. Circular No. 53/2016/TT-BLDTBXH of 28 December 2016). Furthermore, companies must ensure the plan for OHS training to be provided to certain groups of employees is in place. The OHS month must be organized from the 1st to 31st of May every year.

CHINA

Facilities will be subject to Environmental Protection Taxes instead of Pollutant Discharge Fees starting 1 January 2018
Starting 1 January 2018, facilities, companies and other production operators in China that directly discharge taxable pollutants into the environment will be subject to an Environmental Protection Tax. Pursuant to the newly adopted Environmental Protection Tax Law, the practice of Environmental Protection Taxes will replace the current practice of Pollutant Discharge Fees starting in 2018. Taxable pollutants under the Law include a broad range of air pollutants, water pollutants, solid wastes, as well as ambient noise with the number of decibels exceeding the national standards. The assessment of the Environmental Protection Tax will be based on the types and amount of taxable pollutants discharged. The Environmental Protection Taxes will usually be assessed monthly and collected quarterly. Compared to the Pollutant Discharge Fees that are currently in effect, implementing Environmental Protection Tax will provide more consistency and transparency in the regulatory regime. While for the same discharging activities the amount of Environmental Protection Taxes can be expected to be roughly the same as the Pollutant Discharge Fees, Environmental Protection Taxes will be enforced in broader areas and with more stringency.

Facilities are now subject to a new set of rules governing the application, issuance, implementation and supervision of Pollutant Discharge Permits
As of 23 December 2016, facilities operating in China are subject to a new set of rules governing the application, issuance, implementation and supervision of Pollutant Discharge Permits. The newly issued Interim Management Measures on Pollutant Discharge Permits established a unified Pollutant Discharge Permits management system, which was previously regulated by individual provinces. Although the existing Pollutant Discharge Permits will remain effective, the facilities will have to apply for continuance in accordance with the Measures before the expiration date. All new applications for Pollutant Discharge Permits are subject to the detailed requirements provided in the Measures