|North America||Central & Latin America||Europe|
Contracting Parties of the Convention on Nuclear Safety urged to increase and review nuclear safety plans
The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) hosted the 7th Review Meeting of Contracting Parties to the Convention on Nuclear Safety (CNS) from 27 March to 7 April 2017 at its Headquarters, in Vienna, Austria. These meetings aim to enhance the effectiveness and efficiency of reviews and undertake discussions on self-assessment and improvement plans of contracting parties with regards to nuclear power plant safety. Delegates from 79 countries representing Contracting Parties to the CNS identified and offered ideas to ensure achievement of high levels of safety. Of particular importance, Contracting parties emphasized sustaining and enhancing a nuclear safety culture amongst themselves, maintaining and promoting effective legal frameworks, and enforcing safety precautions within the supply chain to nuclear plants.
In their Summary Report released at the close of the April meeting, Contracting Parties encouraged the IAEA to continue developing guidance to help countries strengthen regulatory body oversight and practice safety culture.
Minimata Convention to enter into force on 16 August 2017: more stringent controls to limit the use, release, and emissions of mercury are expected
Companies that engage in manufacturing processes that release man-made mercury discharges and companies that manufacture, import, or export certain mercury-added products could soon become subject to more stringent controls within the framework of the Minamata Convention on Mercury. The 50-ratification requirement was met on 18 May 2017 resulting in the Convention set to become legally binding on all Parties from 16 August 2017. Companies operating in countries that are Parties to the convention will not be directly affected by the Convention until laws or regulations are adopted at the national level. At that time, companies can expect requirements including, but not limited to, the use of best available technologies (BAT) and/or best environmental practices (BEP) to control mercury emissions.
Executive order directs federal agencies to review the Clean Water Rule and other rules implementing the rule and rescind or revise as necessary
On 3 March 2017, the Executive Office of the President issued Executive Order (EO) 13778, Restoring the Rule of Law, Federalism, and Economic Growth by Reviewing the "Waters of the United States" Rule (Clean Water Rule). The Clean Water Rule is federal legislation promulgated by the EPA and USACE which clarified the scope of federal water protection by defining and protecting tributaries that impact the health of downstream waters; providing certainty in how far safeguards extend to nearby waters; and reducing the categories of waters that are subject to case-by-case analysis.
This could impact facilities with wastewater discharge permits with permit revisions or policy changes stemming from EO 13778. The EO directs various federal agencies, including the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) to review rules, policies, and guidance implementing or enforcing the federal Clean Water Rule for consistency with the policy established in the Executive Order. Agencies would need to rescind or revise the impacted rules as appropriate.
Commercial driver’s license applicants may furnish alternative documentation establishing right to remain and/or work in United States
As of 19 April 2017, applicants for a commercial driver's license (CDL) in California now may furnish an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) Form I-765 or a federal Customs Arrival/Departure Form I−94 as alternative documentation establishing their right to remain and/or work in the United States. The California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) adopted these changes to align with federal CDL regulations.
Department of Environmental Quality created to administer and enforce state’s environmental protection programs
On 10 April 2017, North Dakota Governor Doug Burgum signed into law Senate Bill (SB) 2327, which created the North Dakota Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ). Until this point, all environmental protection programs were administered by divisions of the North Dakota Department of Health (NDDOH). The adopted legislation does not create or repeal any existing environmental protection programs. The effective date for the DEQ to begin administering environmental protection programs to the regulated community of North Dakota is still to be determined. North Dakota companies will be required to report to the DEQ instead of the NDDOH under the applicable regulations transferred to the new agency.
Facilities must comply with more stringent emission requirements for precursors of particulate matter in nonattainment areas
Beginning 17 May 2017, facilities operating sources of particulate matter or its precursors in nonattainment areas will likely begin to see more stringent requirements incorporated into their air emission permits. The Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) issued a direct final rule adopting amendments to its Ambient Air Quality Standards and its rules governing permitting for nonattainment areas. The final rule modified the definition of Regulated New Source Review (NSR) Pollutant to specify that sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, volatile organic compounds, and ammonia are all precursors to particulate matter in any particulate matter nonattainment area, among other changes.
Province and police sign a Memorandum of Understanding concerning investigating serious workplace incidents
The Government of Alberta and 10 partnering police services have signed on 28 April 2017 the Westray Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) which defines protocols for investigating serious workplace incidents. This MOU is aimed at helping investigators determine if criminal charges may be warranted in addition to occupational health and safety (OHS) violations.
Amendments to environment quality act (EQA) will introduce an integrated environmental authorization as well as modernize the EQA
Since 23 March 2017, all companies carrying out activities that can have an impact on the environment must comply with reforms to Quebec's Environment Quality Act introduced by the adoption of Bill 102: An Act to amend the Environment Quality Act to modernize the environmental authorization scheme and to amend other legislative provisions, in particular to reform the governance of the Green Fund. Importantly, only some provisions under the Bill entered into force upon adoption of the Act including, for example, a new exemption from environmental authorization requirements for projects with a low or insignificant risk and reforms to Quebec's Green Fund. Most other changes will not enter into force until 23 March 2018, including the merging of current and existing authorisations into 1 single authorization to reduce handling time and recalibration of the authorization certificate system and environmental impact assessments. Until then, current requirements under the EQA will continue to apply.
Facilities could be subject to stricter air emissions requirements
Facilities could be subject to stricter emissions levels according to the Air Quality National Strategy 2017-2030. The Air Quality National Strategy 2017-2030 aims at coordinating different actions for improving the air quality to prevent health problems in the population and to preserve the ecosystems by 2030. The strategy does not contain any requirement applicable to private parties, but it is useful for foreseeing what the trend in the regulations will be in the future.
Guidance for the development of occupational health and safety plan adopted
Since 6 March 2017 companies have been able to consult the Guidance on the development of Occupational Health and Safety Program of the Occupational Health Council (Consejo de Salud Ocupacional) for further information on the development of Occupational Health and Safety Programs (Programa de Salud Ocupacional). The Guidance details the minimum content of an Occupational Health and Safety Program and provides some forms and methodologies that can be used in the development and implementation of occupational health and safety programs, including the minimum methodologies for the assessment of working conditions and the working environment and the minimum content of occupational health and safety policies (políticas de salud ocupacional) to be included in Occupational Health and Safety Programs.
New rules for the use and exploitation of water resources proposed
In the future, companies exploiting or using water resources would have to obtain a concession (concesión) from the National Water Authority (Autoridad Nacional del Agua -ANAGUA). This follows from a Water Law proposal presented in the Senate of the Dominican Republic that is under parliamentary discussion. If adopted, ownership of all water would pass to the state, eliminating private ownership of water resources. This would mean companies who want to use or exploit water resources would need to obtain a concession (concesión) and those who want to discharge wastewater into water bodies would have to obtain a discharge permit (permiso de descarga).
ChemSec launched database on safer alternatives to hazardous chemicals
Downstream users of hazardous substances can consult the International Chemical Secretariat (ChemSec) Marketplace to identify safer alternative substances, launched on 17 May 2017. The ChemSec Marketplace provides information on the main uses of each listed substance, the substance(s) it can be potentially replaced with and the contact details of its manufacturer. Manufacturers of chemicals can advertise their products free of charge.
The European Commission proposes to decrease annual emission allocations (AEA) for 2017-2020 for most of the Member States
On 27 April 2017, the European Commissions introduced a draft Decision amending Decision 2013/162/EU of 26 March 2013 on determining Member States' annual emission allocations for the period from 2013 to 2020 to revise Member States’ annual emission allocations (AEA) for the period from 2017 to 2020 (hereinafter - the draft Commission Decision). This means in the future, companies emitting greenhouse gases in certain EU Member States (for example, Germany, France and Belgium) might be subject to more stringent greenhouse gas emission reduction measures.
Guidance available on Germany-specific content of safety data sheets
Since 23 March 2017, companies compiling safety data sheets (SDS) now have access to a guidance document. The revised “TRGS 220 - Technical Rule on Dangerous Substances: National aspects for the compilation of safety data sheets” further detail the EU guidance document for the compilation of safety data sheets with regard to national specifications of German law regulating dangerous substances. The previous version of TRGS 220 had been repealed in 2015, as it had become too outdated.
Employers would be required to keep less data in employees’ records and working time records under proposed rule
Companies would be required to keep less data in employees’ records and working time records if the Draft Rulebook on the Content and Method of Keeping Employee Records is adopted. Employers would no longer be required to keep records on probationary work, duration of internship, and hours of use of daily and weekly breaks. Also, working time records would not be required to contain data on time of maternity leave, parental leave or similar rights.
Companies carrying out developments in England, Northern Ireland, or Wales that require environmental impact assessment face updated procedural requirements
Since 16 May 2017, companies carrying out developments which are likely to have significant effects on the environment, will face updated procedural requirements concerning environmental impact assessments. This is due to the coming into force of the Town and Country Planning (Environmental Impact Assessment) Regulations 2017 which implement Directive 2014/52/EU. The changes introduced include amending the information to be included in an environmental statement, amending the information to be provided to inform a screening decision and introduction of the requirement to have environmental statements prepared by competent experts.
The same requirements apply in Northern Ireland under the Planning (Environmental Impact Assessment) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2017 and in Wales under the Town and Country Planning (Environmental Impact Assessment) (Wales) Regulations 2017 which both implement Directive 2014/52/EU.
Facilities that produce tyres or process waste tyres must register with the Minister of Environment and submit an industry waste management plan
Facilities that operate in the tyre industry as tyre dealers, tyre producers, waste tyre processors or tyre transporters must prepare and submit an industry waste tyre management plan for approval. This follows from the recent Notice to require the tyre industry to prepare and submit an industry waste tyre management plan to the Minister for approval, published on 31 March 2017. Under the Notice, all facilities operating in the tyre industry must register with the Minister by 30 April 2017, and submit an Industry Waste Tyre Management Plan by 30 May 2017. Similarly, facilities that plan to undertake new activities in the tyre industry (after publication of the Notice) will have to register with the Minister, 30 days prior to commencing the activity.
Employers may soon have to comply with more stringent occupational health and safety measures for the protection of workers
Facilities can expect stricter occupational health and safety requirements when the Parliament adopts the new Occupational Health and Safety (OHS), Draft Bill. This follows from a recent announcement from the Ministry of Employment and Labour Relations on 12 March 2017, explaining that the Government is preparing to submit an OHS Draft Bill to both the Cabinet and the Parliament for review. The main aim of the Draft OHS Bill is to provide a comprehensive national framework for ensuring workers' safety. Once adopted the Draft would, among other things, require every facility that employs 20 or more people to hire safety officers to oversee occupational safety in their workplace.
Facilities likely to cause environmental impact must be certified by the Ministry of Environment (Ministério do Ambiente – MINAMB)
As of 25 April 2018, facilities carrying out activities likely to cause environmental impact, such as manufacturing chemicals, must have had their internal organisation, facilities and equipment certified by Ministry of Environment (Ministério do Ambiente - MINAMB) and can be subject to an environmental audit. After the audit, the MINAMB will grant an environmental certificate, seal or etiquette, if the facility’s environmental management is classified as “good for the environment”, or require its operator to adopt a set of measures to achieve this status, by a set deadline. This follows from Executive Decree 249/17 approving the regulation of environmental audit for certification.
Workers who started before 1 May 2017 in hazardous and very hazardous types of work must comply with the training requirements in certain cases
Companies with operations that are classified as hazardous and very hazardous should be aware that workers who started working before 1 May 2017 will be deemed to comply with the training requirements if they attend at least 32 hours training at an establishment accredited by the Ministry of Education. Workers employed in the types of work listed in Annex 1 of Regulation O.J.28706 (around 100 types of work, such as metal manufacturing) must have one of the occupational training certificates mentioned in Article 6 of the Regulation. Workers who started before or after this date may also have one of the certificates listed in Article 6, such as a diploma or certificate, according to Law No.3308, or certificates issued in accordance with Regulation O.J.28585 depending on the job.
Facilities generating wastewater would have to comply with unified guidelines for wastewater monitoring
In the future, industrial facilities which dispose of wastewater to the sewage system would have to implement two wastewater monitoring regimes. Facilities would also have to report on line the sampling results within 45 days of sampling to the Ministry of Environmental Protection (MoEP). This follows from the publication of guidelines for industrial wastewater monitoring proposed. Due to heavy regulatory load and conflicting requirements set by several entities (the Ministry of Environmental Protection, Ministry of Health, and Wastewater Corporations), the guidelines are open for public comments until 16 May 2017.
Companies may ace more stringent enforcement to the fire protection, energy conservation, and health protection requirements for buildings
As of 21 April 2018, companies erecting new buildings or altering or maintaining existing buildings must ensure they obtain the appropriate construction permits. Companies must also ensure to obtain an occupation certificate for all new and altered buildings before putting such buildings in use. Royal Decree No. 43/M of 2017 approves the Code for implementing the Saudi Building Code. The Code for implementing the Saudi Building Code mandates for the implementation of the Saudi Building Code on all constructions activities in the public and private sectors.
Publication of new list of high pollution fuels that authorities are allowed to restrict or forbid in urban areas
As of 28 March 2017, the Catalogue of High Pollution Fuels ( (高污染燃料目录) is the basis for city level government to restrict or forbid certain fuels in the cities' designated High Pollution Fuel Restricted Zones. The Catalogue concerns 10 types of fuels used for production and residential purposes, and classifies the fuels into three classes. City level government have the authority to designate High Pollution Fuel Restricted Zones and forbid or restrict the use of Class I, II or III fuels listed in the Catalogue in such restricted zones.
Construction projects in facilities will soon be subject to a new set of occupational disease prevention facility requirements
Since 1 May 2017, companies that manage or invest in construction projects in facilities are subject to a new set of rules regarding occupational disease prevention facilities under new requirements in the Management Measures on the "Three Simultaneous" of Occupational Disease Prevention Facilities at Construction Projects (建设项目职业病防护设施“三同时”监督管理办法). The Management Measures require that facilities undergoing construction work design, build and operate occupational disease prevention facilities (any equipment, devices, appliances that are designed to eliminate or reduce the intensity of occupational hazards at workplaces, to prevent or reduce the negative impact on workers' health caused by the occupational hazards, and to protect workers' health) simultaneously with the main construction projects, if the operations that are undergoing construction might pose an occupational health hazard. Specifically, facilities undergoing construction work must conduct occupational health hazard preliminary assessment, design of occupational disease prevention facilities, occupational health hazard control effect evaluation, and review and acceptance of occupational disease prevention facilities.
Facilities with 50 or more employees to have a creche
As of 1 April 2017, facilities employing female workers must provide 26 weeks of paid maternity benefit to any female worker entitled to the maternity benefit and facilities, 8 of which can be taken before the expected delivery date. The woman worker must have been employed for at least 80 days with the employer in the year prior to her expected delivery date to be eligible for the maternity benefit. As of 1 July 2017, facilities with 50 or more employees must provide a creche to female workers having a nursing child. This follows from the Maternity Benefit (Amendment) Act, 2017 amending the Maternity Benefit Act, 1961.
Japan’s long-term climate change policy revealed
Companies can now review the Japanese government’s long-term climate change policy direction towards 2050 to better anticipate the government’s supportive or restrictive measures. The Ministry of Economy, Trade, and Industry (METI: 経済産業省) published the Long-term Climate Change Countermeasures Platform Report (長期地球温暖化対策プラットフォーム報告書, of the “Report”) on 7 April 2017 as a precursor to the “mid-century, long-term low greenhouse gas emission development strategies” (世紀中頃の長期的な温室効果ガスの低排出型の発展のための戦略) encouraged to be published by Member States of the Paris Agreement of the United Nations Framework on Climate Change (UNFCCC). The Report emphasizes that companies must focus on the global value chain (GVC) of products and services by introducing more high performance materials or low carbon products into the market, as greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions tend to dominate during the consumption stage rather than the manufacturing stage. The National Energy and Environment Strategy for Technological Innovation towards 2050 (NESTI2050: エネルギー・環境イノベーション戦略) published by the working group of the same name under the Cabinet Office on 19 April 2016, lists and details 37 areas of renewable energy or energy efficient technologies that will likely materialize will offer significant sources of GHG reduction by 2050. Examples of such technologies include but are not limited to all forms of renewable energy sources, all forms of transportation, electrical and electronics equipment, innovative manufacturing processes and structural materials. In addition, the Report mentions that it is unlikely for the government to strengthen carbon pricing regulatory measures, including stricter carbon taxes nor nationally mandated emissions trading scheme, but with careful consideration.
Policy on climate change adaptation for businesses published
Companies can now review the policy on climate change adaptation, which outlines the government’s likely direction to assist companies in adapting to climate change, towards 2020. The Policy on the Scientific Knowledge and Climate Risk Information in Promoting the Climate Change Adaptation Strategies (気候変動適応策を推進するための科学的知見と気候リスク情報に関する取組の方針, hereafter as the policy) was published on 14 March 2017, by the climate change impact assessment subcommittee (気候変動影響評価等小委員会) under the Ministry of Environment (MoE: 環境省). The policy promotes the usage and enhancement of the Climate Change Adaptation Platform (A-PLAT: 気候変動適応情報プラットフォーム) that offers a climate change risk map and graph, as well as useful case studies on climate risk management and adaptation business. The government aims to stimulate better climate change adaptation amongst companies by improving the quality and quantity of information offered and providing incentives to invest in adaptation measures.
Changes proposed to OHS legislation could result in increased offences and higher penalties
Companies that operate in Victoria may soon be charged with increased offences and subject to higher penalties if proposed amendments to the Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) Act 2004 are adopted. The most significant changes proposed to the Act include the extension of the limitation period during which prosecutions can be brought in relation to indictable offences under the Act, the introduction of a fresh evidence rule allowing prosecutions for indictable offences to be brought after the limitation period has expired, increased penalties for failure to notify incidents to WorkSafe Victoria and preserve incident sites, and the introduction of a new offence for failure to comply with an enforceable undertaking. Changes are also proposed that would expand the powers of workplace inspectors when requesting the production of documents after entering a workplace. The Bill proposing these changes has been passed by the lower house of Parliament and is currently awaiting its second reading. No indication has been provided as to the expected adoption or implementation of the Bill.