Powerful EHS stories to keep you inspired in 2018

By ,

Rachel Carson

As we close out 2017, everyone at Nimonik would like to wish you a very happy and safe holiday! This has been an exciting year at Nimonik, we have learned a tremendous amount, published over 5,000 EHS regulatory updates and expanded into China with the acquisition of Envitool. Nimonik is now helping over 350 organizations throughout China with environmental, health and safety and quality requirements. To end 2017, we would like to share a few powerful EHS stories that inspired our team.

Nimonik believes that if all companies respected EHS and quality regulations, the world would be a much better place. But, it is not enough to simply have regulations, they must be enforced. The powerful article Louisiana Environmental Apocalypse Road Trip had a big impact on our team. We regularly work with Louisiana (U.S.) regulations and they appear rigorous and extensive. The article showed how the legislation that a government has on the books can mean very little if it is not enforced or if there are too many exemptions.

Despite tremendous progress since the beginning of the environmental protection movement, we still struggle to enforce EHS regulations in many countries around the world. The limitations of governmental enforcement of EHS regulations were made clear in Run to Failure: BP and the Making of Deepwater Horizona book that Nimonik highly recommends to everyone. The book details British Petroleum’s (BP) unwillingness to comply between the late 80s and the disaster in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010 and rigorously illustrates how a top-down, cost-cutting culture led to massive environmental disasters and horrible loss of human life. The book also discusses how the U.S. EPA was unable to enforce regulations and the lengths to which the company was willing to go to avoid complying. We are told that BP has improved its systems since the Deepwater Horizon disaster, but this book is a textbook on what not to do when operating large, complex and dangerous operations around the world.

Another personal favourite this year was Client Earth by James Thornton, which discusses how his law firm uses public interest lawsuits and rigorous analysis to prosecute environmental polluters. They successfully blocked coal power production in Poland, improved air quality compliance in the EU, had a big impact on the fishing industry around the world and had a big influence on China’s 2014 Environmental Protection Law and the subsequent actions of the government. Client Earth has used existing laws to help countries apply their own environmental regulations more effectively and they are actively working in China, where NGOs now have the ability to sue polluters. James Thornton accurately points out that China is taking a leading role in environmental clean-up efforts by raising fines, restricting industries and making an epic world-changing push for electric vehicle adoption.

To celebrate the people who fight for clean and safe industries we named our two Montréal conference rooms Rachel Carson and David Suzuki. Rachel Carson’s book, Silent Spring was a significant factor in my decision to focus on environmental and health and safety issues and create Nimonik in 2008.

“In the late 1950s, Carson turned her attention to conservation, especially environmental problems that she believed were caused by synthetic pesticides. The result was Silent Spring (1962), which brought environmental concerns to the American public. Silent Spring was met with fierce opposition by chemical companies, but it spurred a reversal in national pesticide policy, led to a nationwide ban on DDT for agricultural uses,[2] and inspired an environmental movement that led to the creation of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.[3][4]

David Suzuki is a well known Canadian activist and educator on environmental issues. I grew up watching his show, The Nature of Things, and his love of our natural environment pushed me to devote my energy to helping companies stay clean and respect the environmental law in Canada and around the world. Despite his 81 years of age, David Suzuki continues to drive environmental issues to the forefront of public discussions.

As the government and consumers increasingly push for sustainability, safer work environments and higher quality products, EHS and quality requirements continue to increase. The automotive industry is aggressively implementing a tough new standard, IATF 16949 that is forcing suppliers and OEMs to overhaul their quality management systems. The booming electronics recycling industry is implementing R2 and E-Stewards programs and OEMs are fighting to trace disposal of their products all the way down the smelter that melts the components of our phones and computers. The new ISO 45001 safety standard will push companies around the world to improve their health and safety management programs in 2018. While the daily news can appear negative, the overall trend we are seeing around the world is clear. Industries and governments are being pushed to adopt tougher EHS and quality standards and civil society is holding them to account.

We look forward to working with you in 2018 and helping you improve the world with better EHS and quality performance. Everyone at Nimonik wishes you a safe, happy and healthy end of the year!