Author: Craig Schwartz

Aarcher Consulting Promotes AdriAnn Rode to Deputy Program Manager

Aarcher Consulting

Denver, Colorado (March 7, 2024)

AdriAnn Rode, Deputy Program Manager, Aarcher ConsultingAarcher Consulting, an environmental consulting services firm for more than 25 years, announced today the promotion of AdriAnn Rode to Deputy Program Manager of the firm’s Denver Division operations. In this role, AdriAnn will support all aspects of ongoing operations and client services, including operational performance, personnel management, technical product quality, client satisfaction, and business development.

AdriAnn is a dedicated and results-oriented Senior Consultant and Program Manager with extensive expertise in sustainability, environmental compliance, and due diligence. She has a proven track record in overseeing regulatory environmental compliance audits and developing comprehensive environmental management programs for governmental agencies and national commercial clients. AdriAnn has held progressively responsible positions in the environmental consulting arena since 1997, directing environmental consulting staff, monitoring quality, and driving team development and growth.

AdriAnn holds a Bachelor of Science in Environmental Chemistry from Missouri State University, a Graduate Certificate in Management for Sustainable Business, and an MBA in Sustainable Business Management from Missouri University of Science and Technology Rolla. She is a Certified Hazardous Materials Manager (CHMM) and serves as adjunct professor in the Environmental Management and Policy Master’s program at the University of Denver.

Aarcher Consulting Selected to Present at the 2021 EHS Operational Excellence Conference

Aarcher Consulting Selected to Present at the 2021 EHS Operational Excellence ConferenceAarcher Consulting is proud to have been selected to present at the prestigious 2021 EHS Operational Excellence Conference, hosted by the National Association for Environmental Management (NAEM), on March 10.

Aarcher’s President Craig Schwartz and Division Manager Gabrielle McDonald will share their expertise during the conference session, Case Study: Virtual Auditing Realities from Every Angle. They will be joined by Dominic Masinelli and Joe Gallagher, environmental compliance specialists at Trident Seafoods Corp.

EHS leaders have had to learn how to stay in compliance during the COVID-19 pandemic. Many have become experts in conducting virtual audits to monitor the environmental compliance status of remote facilities and at-sea operations when access is not allowed. During this presentation, attendees will learn the opportunities and challenges of virtual auditing and hear insights into the audit process.

The 2021 EHS Operational Excellence Conference, held online March 10-11, will focus on best practices for EHS professionals during the pandemic and how EHS leaders are managing the next phase of coronavirus response plans. The event will also cover other EHS management topics, such as the impact the Biden administration will have on the approach to regulatory compliance and tools EHS leaders are using to work in a remote environment.

At Aarcher Consulting, we are compliance auditing experts with the ability to perform comprehensive environmental and safety audits that go beyond the norm. Our teams consistently deliver accurate and reliable audit results and practical corrective action recommendations, which can be integrated with on-the-spot staff training, management recommendations, root cause analysis, EMS evaluation, pollution prevention opportunity identification, and instant reporting.

For more than 20 years, we have performed hundreds of environmental and safety compliance audits for manufacturers, commercial facilities, and federal agencies in every U.S. state. Based on our experience and expertise, Aarcher has been approved by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Department of Justice, and several states to serve as Third-Party Verifier (TPV)/Third-Party Auditor for organizations working to meet the terms of a consent decree (CD), compliance order, voluntary disclosure agreement, or supplemental environmental projects (SEP).

5 Benefits of Conducting a Compliance Audit

5 Benefits of Conducting a Compliance Audit

While most organizations have in-house personnel who manage environmental, health, and safety programs on a day-to-day basis, periodic audits by expert third-party auditors have become indispensable for many organizations. Unlike ongoing compliance management activities, compliance audits are evaluations of an organization, facility, or operation to determine its status with respect to applicable, predetermined audit criteria. The scope and audit criteria can be tailored to each organization’s needs, and related assessments or tasks can be integrated into the audit process to its maximize value.

There are several benefits of hiring an EHS team to evaluate environmental or safety compliance for your organization, including the following:

1. Drive environmental protection and workplace safety. EHS regulations are promulgated to provide environmental and safety protection, so improved compliance helps organizations meet the spirit of those requirements and demonstrate proactive leadership. Credible third-party audits can be used to demonstrate effective EHS management to potential customers, shareholders, and other stakeholders.

2. Document compliance status. Properly performed audits offer managers and leadership an accurate understanding of the entity’s compliance position in near real time, and can resolve uncertainties regarding the applicability or requirements of specific regulations.

3. Identify overlooked compliance deficiencies. Third-party auditors offer a “fresh look” at operations and can often reveal compliance deficiencies and emerging challenges overlooked by on-site EHS professionals focused on program implementation and day-to-day operations.

4. Manage risks. Identifying and addressing EHS regulatory compliance deficiencies reduces the risk of environmental releases, accidents, enforcement actions, and negative press.

5. Improve EHS program performance. In addition to identifying compliance deficiencies, audits can improve overall program effectiveness by identifying emerging regulatory challenges, opportunities for pollution prevention or waste minimization, and programmatic root causes.

At Aarcher Consulting, we are compliance auditing experts with the ability to perform comprehensive environmental and safety audits that go beyond the norm. Our teams consistently deliver accurate and reliable audit results and practical corrective action recommendations, which can be integrated with on-the-spot staff training, management recommendations, root cause analysis, EMS evaluation, pollution prevention opportunity identification, and instant reporting.

For more than 20 years, we have performed hundreds of environmental and safety compliance audits for manufacturers, commercial facilities, and federal agencies in every U.S. state. Based on our experience and expertise, Aarcher has been approved by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Department of Justice, and several states to serve as Third-Party Verifier (TPV)/Third-Party Auditor for organizations working to meet the terms of a consent decree (CD), compliance order, voluntary disclosure agreement, or supplemental environmental projects (SEP).

Contact us for more information on our approach to environmental and safety compliance auditing or to schedule an audit for your facility.

 

How to Train Your Staff On New COVID-19 Safety Procedures

If your facility is planning to reopen soon, taking proper safety measures is critical to reduce the risk of exposing your staff to COVID-19. As you prepare your return to work policies, it’s important to remember that the success of your safety initiatives depends largely on the cooperation of your employees. That’s why training and communication are crucial to infection prevention in your workplace.

As your staff members begin to return to your facility, take the time to train them on proper procedures to maintain a safe work environment. Your training should cover the following:

  1. The symptoms and signs of COVID-19
  2. Protocols for the use and disposal of protective clothing and personal protective equipment (PPE)
  3. Etiquette for coughing and sneezing
  4. Proper hand washing and hygiene practices
  5. Facility design changes in place to encourage social distancing
  6. Workplace surface cleaning and disinfection
  7. Procedures for reporting health and safety concerns
  8. Company sick leave policy
  9. Contact tracing plan and return to work clearance process
  10. Resources for additional information and support

In addition to facilitating employee training, clearly communicate safety protocols and procedures to your workers via emails and conference calls to properly prepare them to return to your facility. This is a stressful time for everyone, so your staff members will likely have questions and concerns that you will need to address. Providing the necessary resources and clear communication are key to successfully implementing your organization’s safety strategy.

Your managers and supervisors may need additional training to help encourage compliance with safety protocols among staff and recognize and respond to any issues that may arise.

As your employees return to the workplace, having a team that specializes in infection prevention services can ensure you make a safe transition. At Aarcher Consulting, we provide return to work plans, infection risk assessments, and pandemic preparedness and response plans. We help you protect your staff and customers, support continuity of operations, demonstrate proactive infection prevention, and improve employee security and morale. Learn more about our Infection Prevention Services.

Resource:

COVID-19: Keep Your Workplace Safe and Healthy During the Pandemic, Guy Burdick, EHS Daily Advisor.

5 COVID-19 Safety Practices to Implement as Your Facility Reopens

Researchers in the United States and across the world are learning new information about COVID-19 every day. On July 9, the World Health Organization (WHO) announced that airborne transmission of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, in indoor spaces, especially those that are crowded and poorly ventilated, could be possible. WHO and other public health officials haven’t conducted sufficient research to conclude that the virus is “airborne.”

The CDC and OSHA have issued guidelines for workplaces preparing to reopen. The organizations continue to update their guidelines as more information about SARS-CoV-2 becomes known. Safety organizations, including the American Society of Safety Professionals (ASSP) and the National Safety Council (NSC), have also put together return to work resources.

The NSC cautions that “business owners should reopen when they’re ready—not necessarily because they can.” Facilities should only open if they can put proper social distancing and sanitation procedures in place to keep all staff safe.

As your organization plans to reopen, implement these protocols to ensure your employees return to the workplace safely:

1. Continue to provide remote work options for high-risk employees when possible. The CDC recommends providing teleworking options for staff members who are at risk of severe illness, including older employees and those who have underlying medical conditions.

2. Make design and layout changes to your facility to encourage safe practices. Your facility should be set up so staff members are able to maintain social distancing of 6 feet from each other. This may require moving workstations to ensure this setup is possible. If social distancing isn’t an option, you must install transparent shields or other physical barriers.

Additionally, the NSC recommends upgrading your facility with certain items to keep staff safe. Employers should consider installing door openers that are hands-free arm pull or foot operated and motion-detection sensors to use in place of switches.

3. Require your workers to wear masks to decrease the risk of disease transmission. On July 14, CDC Director Robert R. Redfield, MD, called for the universal use of cloth face coverings. Clearly communicate your workplace requirements for the use of cloth or N95 masks. Consider providing masks to your staff to ensure everyone has one.

4. Clean and disinfect facility areas often. Surfaces that are touched by people should be frequently cleaned with EPA-approved disinfectants against COVID-19 (List N). It’s also critical for employers to supply soap, alcohol-based hand sanitizer, tissues, and hands-free trash cans.

5. Use signs and markings to encourage safe practices. The NSC recommends that facilities use signs and floor markings to encourage social distancing in the workplace, as well as one-way directional flow in hallways. Additionally, employers should provide signs in all relevant languages with instructions on cough and sneeze etiquette, proper hand washing, and wearing masks.

As your organization transitions back to the workplace amid the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s essential that you follow proper protocols to ensure your staff is working in a safe environment and decrease the risk of their exposure to COVID-19.

Working with a firm that provides infection prevention services, like Aarcher Consulting, can ensure your employees make a safe return to the workplace and continue to stay healthy after your facility reopens. At Aarcher Consulting, we perform assessments of facilities to document the status of workplace conditions and systems affecting potential employee exposure to pathogens. Our credentialed team of Certified Industrial Hygienists led by Science Director, Infection Prevention Sarah Connolly, an infectious disease expert and former CDC staff member, will provide your workforce the peace-of-mind to resume and continue facility operations. Aarcher Consulting is currently scheduling facility assessments and infection prevention strategy development anywhere in the United States. Contact us to discuss your organizational needs.

Resource:

COVID-19: Keep Your Workplace Safe and Healthy During the Pandemic, Guy Burdick, EHS Daily Advisor.

COVID-19 Risk Management: 5 Guidelines for a Safe Transition Back to the Workplace

COVID-19 Risk Management: 5 Guidelines for a Safe Transition Back to the WorkplaceAs states begin to open back up amid the global coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, many organizations are starting to plan to return to the workplace. Each employer is ultimately responsible for workplace safety. Assessment of risk, careful planning, and smart communication during this transition will limit further disruptions to your operation. Our infection control specialists have organized some tips for preparing to return to the workplace:

1. Create a strategic plan. Develop a logical strategy before bringing staff through the door. This plan is your roadmap to success — make sure it is a plan that you can follow. A strong return-to-work plan should describe key factors, such as the number of team members working in one facility, the ability to stay in compliance with social distancing requirements, and sanitation protocols. Plan to do it right the first time.

2. Update other policies and procedures. Review existing written policies and procedures to determine whether they are still relevant and in-line with your strategic plan. Edit policies/procedures that contradict your strategic plan, as they will only serve to confuse management and employees. Carry the guidelines developed during planning through to your other plans and retire policies that no longer serve your workplace.

3. Communicate with your staff. A well-executed strategic plan requires clear and unambiguous communication. The success of your organization’s return-to-work plan relies largely on the cooperation of your employees. Without effective communication, the best laid plans will fail. Distribute updated policies and procedures to your employees so they are aware of all changes. Provide details on your plan through open communication with your employees via email and conference calls. Understand that employees may have their own concerns and questions, which must be addressed for successful implementation of a corporate strategy. Holding a virtual meeting with staff to go over your procedures for returning to the workplace is a great way to communicate the transition and answer questions.

4. Be proactive about restoring a productive work environment. Implementing your strategic plan may require accommodating changes in your employees’ routines. They may have become used to a flexible work schedule without a commute. Others may not have access to reliable childcare. Proactively address these issues to limit impacts to workplace productivity. Consider allowing a more flexible schedule for the first couple of weeks of the transition. Provide personal protective equipment, sanitation supplies, and other safety measures on the first day back so that employees can do their jobs efficiently and effectively.

5. Work with a firm that specializes in infection prevention. Remain vigilant about your infection control response, from the first day until the pandemic is controlled. Hire professionals that specialize in infection prevention to support your organization during this transition. A company that specializes in infection risk mitigation can help ensure your facility is a safe environment and maintains that safety as more staff members return.

Managing risk in your workplace through facility-specific strategies provides your management the clarity to continue operations and demonstrates proactive measures to protect worker safety.

Aarcher provides infection prevention services to help your staff return to the workplace. We perform assessments of facilitates to document the status of workplace conditions and systems affecting potential employee exposure to pathogens. Aarcher’s credentialed team of Certified Industrial Hygienists gives you the path forward and provides your workforce the peace-of-mind to continue facility operations. Our recommendations can be tailored to all human contagions, including coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) (causing COVID-19), influenza (flu), Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS), H1N1 Influenza Virus (Swine Flu), and various harmful bacteria.

Aarcher is currently scheduling facility assessments and infection prevention strategy development anywhere in the United States. Contact us to discuss your organizational needs.

Resources:

Getting Back to Work in Uncertain Times – Guidelines for Employers, Smith, Gambrell & Russell, LLP, SGRLaw.com.

Returning to Work After the COVID-19 Pandemic: A 6-Step Plan, Ann Snook, i-Sight.

Senior Epidemiologist and Infection Prevention Expert Sarah Connolly Joins the Aarcher Team

Sarah Connolly, PhD, MPHAarcher is pleased to announce that Sarah Connolly, PhD, MPH, has joined our team as Science Director, Infection Prevention. Dr. Connolly is a senior epidemiologist and infection prevention expert experienced in infectious disease research and infection prevention. As a former public health associate with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Dr. Connolly responded to infectious disease outbreaks and provided infection control guidance in a variety of settings. She regularly conducted contact-tracing and risk-assessment counseling to prevent the spread of diseases. She also has experience comparing local surveillance systems for influenza virus and writing state investigation protocols for infectious diseases.

Dr. Connolly provides scientific and technical direction to Aarchers team of certified industrial hygienists (CIHs) as they perform Infection Risk Assessments, prepare Return to Work Plans, and develop Pandemic Response and Preparedness Plans for facilities across the United States. She ensures we continually improve our methodologies and reviews all facility assessment results. Learn more about Aarcher’s Infection Risk Mitigation services.

In 2018, Dr. Connolly was a member of the 1st-place-winning team at the International Global Health Case Competition for her teams strategy to control a fictional outbreak of a novel coronavirus at the 2022 World Cup. Their award-winning approach included methods to detect, contain, and prevent novel coronavirus cases and scalable recommendations for various levels of government and the broader community.

In addition to her breadth of public health experience, Dr. Connolly has conducted basic scientific research on the virologic and immunologic characteristics of HIV transmission as well as studied the toxic effects of nanoparticles on human lung cells. Bridging her research to public health, she has worked to develop assays for the rapid detection of measles virus and created diagnostic checklists to reduce the cost of STI testing in Zambia.

Dr. Connolly received her bachelors degree in Microbiology and Cell Science from the University of Florida and completed her Doctor of Philosophy in Immunology and Molecular Pathogenesis at Emory University. She also holds a Master of Public Health in Global Epidemiology from the Rollins School of Public Health at Emory University. Publications of her research can be found in prominent infectious disease journals, including the Journal of Clinical Microbiology and Virology.

4 Goals Pursued by the New Federal Lead Action Plan

Environmental Protection AgencyOn Dec. 19, the Trump administration unveiled its new Federal Action Plan to Reduce Childhood Lead Exposures and Associated Health Impacts.

“The Federal Lead Action Plan will enhance the Trump Administration’s efforts to identify and reduce lead contamination while ensuring children impacted by lead exposure are getting the support and care they need,” EPA Acting Administrator Andrew Wheeler said.

Many of the 17 federal agencies that comprise the President’s Task Force on Environmental Health Risks and Safety Risks to Children will pursue the Action Plan’s four goals:

Goal 1: Reduce Children’s Exposure to Lead Sources

Goal 2: Identify Lead-Exposed Children and Improve Their Health Outcomes

Goal 3: Communicate More Effectively with Stakeholders

Goal 4: Support and Conduct Critical Research to Inform Efforts to Reduce Lead Exposures and Related Health Risks

The majority of the EPA’s actions are listed under Goal 1 and align with current agency rules on children’s exposure to lead-based paint hazards in homes and child-occupied facilities.

The EPA said that it is “committed to developing an implementation plan—by March 2019—that includes performance metrics for monitoring progress and demonstrating accountability for EPA actions identified in the Lead Action Plan.”

What You Need to Know

In the Action Plan, the EPA states that it will “consider revisions, as appropriate, to the dust-lead hazard standards to address childhood exposures to lead-contaminated dust generated from lead-based paint.”

In reference to lead in the ambient air, the EPA explains it will “continue to work with state and tribal air agencies to implement the lead NAAQS and will also evaluate the impacts of lead emissions from aircraft using leaded aviation fuel under the Clean Air Act.”

The plan also asserts that all actions within it are subject to budget constraints, processes within agencies and input from stakeholders.

Skepticism Among Environmental Groups

Many environmental groups are doubtful of the Action Plan’s effectiveness.

“The Federal Action Plan falls short of the decisive action needed to ‘Get The Lead Out’ of our children’s lives,” Environment America said. “While the Plan affirms well-established goals—like reducing exposure to lead—it offers no new policy tools or resource commitments to reach those goals, and ensure lead-free drinking water for our children.”

Is root cause analysis really worth the effort as part of environmental compliance audits?

Well, we think so. Identifying the same type of compliance deficiency in multiple locations, or during each recurring audit for the same facility, can only get us so far. Assuming the deficiency was corrected following each audit, the problem is re-emerging. Perhaps if we figured out the underlying cause, we could resolve it once and for all. This, of course, is the essence of “root cause” analysis, but does this really add value for environmental audit programs?
compliance

We are believers in the value of root cause analysis as a means of using environmental audit findings to drive real organizational improvements. Over the past 20 years, we have led many environmental compliance audits, participated in a variety of audit programs types, consulted to several corporate audit teams, and observed audit programs as they change and evolve over time. We have experienced audit programs that do not address root causes, audit programs with very complex root cause documentation processes, and those with ineffective root cause procedures. All told, we believe that consideration of root causes is an important opportunity for all audit programs, although the approach must be carefully selected based on the realities of the audited organization and the audit program itself.

You probably already understand the concept of a root cause – the underlying factor(s) that led to the observed condition (the deficiency or audit finding) existing. This is the difference between a cause and a symptom. For example, if an SPCC plan was not updated in the required 5-year period, the deficiency is an outdated plan, but why did that happen? Was funding for a consultant not made available? Were employees recalcitrant, forgetful, or stretched too thin? Is more training or a better system for tracking deadlines required? Are responsibilities clear? The bottom line answer is our root cause.

There is a lot of guidance out there on performing root cause analysis, much of it coming from quality, safety, engineering, and management strategies. But these approaches often must be adapted to be practical for our own organizations and audit programs.

If you would like a free paper on how root causes can play a part in your audit program, along with an overview of common methodologies and some tips for success, email me at Craig Schwartz at [email protected] and I’ll send you a copy.

Craig Schwartz is an environmental management consultant with more than 20 years experience helping clients work toward their environmental compliance, performance, and risk management objectives. He is a Certified Hazardous Materials Manager (CHMM), Certified Professional Environmental Auditor (CPEA), and Certified Environmental Trainer (CET) who serves as both an AARCHER consultant and instructor for the Aarcher Institute of Environmental Training. Craig can be reached at [email protected].