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Environmental Consulting

Since 1979, we provide unparalleled environmental services to our clients.

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Scary Halloween Hazards – Fact, Not Fiction

Posted by in Uncategorized | October 30, 2017
Comments Off on Scary Halloween Hazards – Fact, Not Fiction

The spookiest time of year is around the corner. A Halloween celebration in the offices is a great way to boost morale and teamwork. While it is fun, you should still keep safety in mind. There are many people who dress up and/or decorate their work areas at the last minute. Here are a few possible safely concerns to think about and how you can avoid them.

  1. Avoid a Flight From Height
  • When putting up decorations, remember ladder safety.
  • Make sure to have a colleague spot you on the ladder when hanging those hard-to-reach decorations.
  1. Keep the Light Just Right
  • Keep your space well lit! While darkness is spooky, too dark is dangerous.
  • Avoid using electrical lighting near flammable objects.
  1. Leave the Slips and Trips for the Horror Movies
  • Don’t obscure your vision in your costume. Complete your creep-crawly look with makeup instead of a mask and make sure there are no loose or trailing parts to your costume.
  • Eliminate tripping hazards in your decorations. Watch out for electrical cords and place the decorations away from areas with high traffic.
  1. Act to Avoid Allergies
  • Food dye is great to colour anything blood red – but make sure you read the ingredients! It may be hard to remember, but keep in mind the allergies of your coworkers. Even if you know the allergies of people around you, avoid common allergens such as eggs and peanuts. You never know who may drop by.
  • Moderate your use of new cosmetics and test it on a small patch of skin first.
  • Food is not the only source of allergies. Unusual chemicals or perfumes can also cause a reaction.
  1. Watch Out for Sharp Objects
  • Swords, knives, and similar costume accessories should be made of soft, flexible material.
  • If you are doing any cutting or carving for your decorations, Pay extra attention and set up in an office area with little traffic so you don’t have anyone bump into you or startle you.
  • Inspect decorations and costumes and avoid or remove any sharp objects. It seems intuitive, but some things like spikes made out of paper or evil queen crowns are often missed.
  1. Look Out for Fire Hazards
  • If you have to have candles, stick to electrical ones.
  • Avoid plugging too much into a single circuit.
  • Don’t hang flammable decorations like balloons near the lights.
  1. Know Your Substances

Many unusual substances are utilized at Halloween to create spooky effects. It is impossible to list them all so here is an example of dry ice, which is likely the most popular substance. Handling Dry Ice Safely (Source : http://www.uvm.edu/safety/lab/DryIce):

  • Explosion hazard:If dry ice is packaged in a container that does not allow for release of the gas, it may explode. Do not store dry ice in any type of tightly sealed device or enclosed space. Store dry ice in a stryofoam chest, insulated cooler or a special cooler designed for the the storage of dry ice (i.e. allows for the release of carbon dioxide gas)
  • Suffocation hazard:Dry ice must be stored in a well-ventilated location. Never store dry ice in a cold room, warm room, or storage closet unless adequate supply ventilation is provided. A large volume of carbon dioxide gas emitted in a confined space, or other unventilated area (e.g. cold room) may create an oxygen deficient atmosphere.
  • Contact hazard:Dry ice causes severe frostbite upon contact with skin. Never handle dry ice with your bare hands. Instead, use special equipment and wear thermal gloves to reduce risk of thermal burns to the skin. Also, do not place dry ice on a tiled or solid surface countertop as the extreme cold will cause damage.
  • Disposal: Dispose of unneeded dry ice by letting the unused portion sublimate in a well-ventilated area. Do not leave unneeded dry ice in hallways or other public areas. Never dispose of dry ice in a sink, toilet or other device and do not put it in the trash or garbage.

For environmental consulting issues big and small you can count on T. Harris Environmental Management. Contact us for a consultation.


About T. Harris Environmental Management

T. Harris Environmental Management Inc. (THEM) is a leading Canadian environmental consulting firm in the fields of environmental services, hazardous materials management, industrial hygiene, and occupational health and safety. Our professional staff serve a wide range of clientele including commercial, government, industrial institutional, and residential. We are passionate about health & safety and committed to excellence. Since 1979, we continue to provide high quality services, taking pride in building long-term relationships with our clients. We are dedicated to understanding your concerns and meeting your needs by delivering efficient, cost-effective solutions.

Mission: To be the preeminent niche environmental and occupational health and safety consulting firm in Ontario and Quebec.

Vision: To enhance our position as a premier niche environmental consulting company based on knowledge, innovation, technology, and be at the forefront of emerging EHS concerns and regulatory changes. We will achieve this by further developing our expertise, fostering growth of our team, synergistic relationships, excellence in performance, and strengthening client relationships.

Value Statement: We are committed to understanding client concerns and meeting our client’s needs by formulating practical, efficient, and cost-effective solutions.


Environmental Due Diligence – Why Bother?

Posted by in Uncategorized | October 30, 2017
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By: Christopher Nielsen, Senior Director – Environmental Services

Environmental Due Diligence Can Stop A Bad Deal

Over the years I’ve seen quite a variety of environmental site conditions that have adversely impacted the value of a property.  Many of these conditions were discovered during the environmental due diligence period and either stopped the deal in its tracks, or were taken into consideration by making adjustments to the purchase price.  Others were missed by other consultants and were discovered at very inopportune times by the owner.  In my experience, there are two main reasons for the failure to identify these problems.  The first reason is an inexperienced environmental consultant was selected to do the Phase One Environmental Site Assessment (ESA), or no ESA was conducted.  The second reason has a fairly clear explanation: the purchaser used private or self-financing and was not required to conduct an ESA as part of the purchase process.  The first reason gets a bit more complicated and is often the result of a short-sighted purchasing process.  It is hard to understand how saving a few hundred, or even a few thousand dollars as part of the procurement of a multi-million dollar property could be worth the risk.  If any single issue is missed as part of the environmental due diligence assessment, the cost to remedy that issue will undoubtedly be many fold the difference between the cost of an ESA conducted by a “low cost provider” versus one conducted by a high-quality firm with extensive experience in the field.  A recent article titled “Don’t Purchase a Lemon: Top 5 Mistakes to Avoid When Closing the Deal!” by the environmental lawyers Donna Shier, Robert Woon and Serin Remedios1  highlighted this fact.

What Is A Good Environmental Site Assessment and How It Can Make A Difference

Don’t make the mistake of believing that all Phase One ESAs are of the same quality or that the experience of the firm and the senior assessor involved in the project doesn’t matter.  Over nearly 30 years in the environmental consulting business, the number of errors and omissions I have identified in the work of others is significant.  There have been multiple instances of underground fuel storage tanks being identified after others have boldly stated that there were none present.  My favourite example is a peer review conducted recently where the author and senior reviewer concluded that there were no underground storage tanks on the property and that there had never been any.  I was able to refute this statement without even visiting the site by simply reviewing the property using Google Street View and observing evidence of an underground tank.  Omissions like these can be potentially costly as old tanks are often the source of significant contamination, and any tank not in use must be removed according to current legislation.  This is at best a $10,000 consideration in the purchase price in order to remove the tank and potentially much higher if there is significant soil and groundwater contamination associated with the tank.

The experience of the assessor and senior project professional can easily make the difference between identifying potential environmental risks and purchasing a property without having all of the relevant information.  Something that often gets overlooked is the importance of interviewing people with knowledge of the area.  Although it can be difficult to identify knowledgeable individuals, a little creativity and experience can go a long way.  As part of a recent site assessment, the broker trying to lease a unit in an adjacent strip mall containing a dry cleaner was contacted.  The broker indicated that the dry cleaner was diligent with their recordkeeping and ran a very clean shop.  However, he also indicated that another nearby property formerly housed a dry cleaner and that there was contaminated groundwater associated with that property.  This information did not show up in the standard information reviews, but awareness of this situation led to some additional investigations which teased out a few more details relevant to the assessment.  Another example I am reminded of is a vacant site which was assessed several years ago.  There was no one directly familiar with the history of the site, so during my site visit I stopped into a small store across the street to talk to the occupants.  Their front window overlooked the site.  It didn’t take long to find out that for several years a local fuel delivery company parked some of their trucks on the site, backing up against a ditch and swampy area.  They would open the fuel tank valves on Friday night so the trucks would be empty on Monday morning.  This valuable information would have been nearly impossible to find using common search methods and without talking to the right person.

What To Look For During A Property Purchase

There are a few things that should be considered when purchasing any property.  The first is to make the most of the due diligence period.  Before you make an offer, it would be prudent to talk to a trusted and experienced environmental consultant about potential issues associated with the property and the required due diligence period to ensure the process is not overly rushed.  This will minimize costs associated with rush surcharges and more importantly, last minute surprises or missing critical information due to time constraints.  Next, retaining a qualified consultant to conduct a thorough Phase One ESA will go a long way to ensuring that an environmental issue won’t haunt you in the future.  A quality ESA is even better than insurance.  Insurance covers you if something goes wrong, and a quality ESA minimizes the risk of purchasing a property where something is already wrong!  In my opinion, that is good value!

And finally, don’t forget to ensure that engage a qualified professional that is legally entitled to do the work required.  Under Ontario’s Professional Geoscientist’s Act, for example, only a registered Professional Geoscientist, or suitably qualified Professional Engineer, may conduct environmental geoscience work, including Phase One ESAs.

If you have any questions about environmental liabilities at your property or a property you may be looking to acquire, feel free to contact me directly.  The first call is always complimentary.

About the Author: Christopher Nielsen

Christopher Nielsen is a Senior Director, Environmental Services with T. Harris Environmental Management Inc. (THEM).  Chris is a registered Professional Geoscientists with the Association of Professional Geoscientists of Ontario and has been providing professional environmental consulting services to public and private sector clients since 1988. He is also an active volunteer, mentoring new professional geoscientists through a program organized by the Association of Professional Geoscientists of Ontario, and is currently the President of Muskies Canada Sport Fishing & Research Inc., a volunteer, not-for-profit conservation organization

Christopher Nielsen can be reached at 1-888-ASK-THEM (275-8436) or cnielsen@tharris.ca

 


About T. Harris Environmental Management

T. Harris Environmental Management Inc. (THEM) is a leading Canadian environmental consulting firm in the fields of environmental services, hazardous materials management, industrial hygiene, and occupational health and safety. Our professional staff serve a wide range of clientele including commercial, government, industrial institutional, and residential. We are passionate about health & safety and committed to excellence. Since 1979, we continue to provide high quality services, taking pride in building long-term relationships with our clients. We are dedicated to understanding your concerns and meeting your needs by delivering efficient, cost-effective solutions.

Mission: To be the preeminent niche environmental and occupational health and safety consulting firm in Ontario and Quebec.

Vision: To enhance our position as a premier niche environmental consulting company based on knowledge, innovation, technology, and be at the forefront of emerging EHS concerns and regulatory changes. We will achieve this by further developing our expertise, fostering growth of our team, synergistic relationships, excellence in performance, and strengthening client relationships.

Value Statement: We are committed to understanding client concerns and meeting our client’s needs by formulating practical, efficient, and cost-effective solutions.


References:

Wilms & Shier Environmental Lawyers, published on-line, www.mondaq.com on September 11, 2017,  (http://www.willmsshier.com/docs/default-source/articles/article—don%27t-purchase-a-lemon-top-5-mistakes-to-avoid-when-closing-the-deal!—ds-rw-and-sr—september-11-2017.pdf?sfvrsn=4?utm_source=Mondaq&utm_medium=syndication&utm_campaign=View-Original

Tips From Our Consultants: Recognizing & Treating Indoor Air Quality Issues

Posted by in Uncategorized | September 29, 2017
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The impact indoor air quality (IAQ) within buildings has on the health of its occupants is a growing concern. According to many studies, building owners, designers and managers are often unaware of the costs and benefits of indoor air quality improvement.

Contact us to evaluate your IAQ!

T. Harris Environmental Management (THEM) experts have conducted thousands of Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) Assessments in public, commercial, institutional and residential buildings. Here are some tips from THEM to give you an idea how indoor air quality can impact your tenants or your workplace.

What you don’t know can hurt you:

♦ It is more than discomfort – poor indoor air quality can make tenants feel ill. It is called Sick Building Syndrome (SBS) and Building Related Illness. Symptoms of a Building Related Illness are usually linked to a specific source in the environment. Carbon monoxide poisoning from a malfunctioning appliance, allergic reactions to mould growing in the space and Legionnaires Disease from contaminated water features in a building are just some examples.

♦ Indoor pollution has similar if not worse effects to outdoor pollution. Canadians spend most of their time indoors breathing air which is often 2 to 5 times more polluted than the worst outdoor air. Most people recognize the concerns of outdoor air pollution and its health risks. Why then are we neglecting to consider and address the effects of poor indoor air quality?

♦ IAQ problems are not always noticeable by sense of smell or sight. Some of the most devastating IAQ issues are related to infiltrations of radon or carbon monoxide gas, both of which are invisible and odourless.

♦ The source can be hard to find even if the IAQ problem is obvious. For example, Objectionable Odours are the leading cause of IAQ complaints, and few people would think of attributing them to the placement of building air intake vents. Yet, they can be related to the intake vents being too close to dumpsters, loading docks, kitchen exhausts, plumbing vents or local ventilation exhausts.

Contact us to evaluate your IAQ!

How to recognize indoor air quality issues:

Many simple steps can be taken to counteract the undesirable outcomes poor IAQ may have on a building.

♦ Check your indoor air quality if many building occupants are getting cold-like symptoms. Indoor air quality tests help detect  the sources of Building Related Illness. While IAQ problems can cause various health conditions, many of the symptoms are very similar a cold or the flu. It is prudent to test the IAQ if these symptoms occur soon after employees in the building start their workday and if they feel better after leaving the building. It is also an IAQ red flag if many people at once report similar symptoms, or if all of them work in the same area of a building.

♦ Check your indoor air quality if you are switching between cooling and heating. In the fall and spring there are often periods of time when the weather is just right and building occupants turn off ventilation systems. Many buildings only get air flow through the HVAC system circulation, so when it is not running, residents see more allergies, odours and other health issues. Even if there is some air filtration, older systems may not provide any fresh air and the level of filtration may vary.  Additionally, temperature changes and inadequate relative humidity may also cause issues for your building, your staff and your health.

Contact us to evaluate your fall IAQ!

♦ Check your indoor air quality if you have recently done renovations or if you made your building more energy-efficient. Good air quality often depends on the careful use of everyday materials inside of a building. Problems may arise if there is less natural fresh air infiltration in the more airtight energy-efficient buildings. Low air flow inside an energy-efficient building can cause a buildup of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) from building materials, chemical products, personal care products usage, and/or carbon dioxide.

♦ Check your indoor air quality if you are moving. The “new house smell” found in many buildings is not always something to be desired. It consists of outgassed chemicals released by heat within a closed environment such as an office. Concentrations of chemicals within closed environments have the potential to reach significant levels where air is stagnant or recirculated.

Improving indoor air quality provides benefits:

Apart from health benefits to tenants, there are significant benefits owners and managers can derive from improving IAQ.

♦ Better work and study environment attracts better tenants. Maintaining great indoor air quality benefits employers as it maintains higher productivity and reduced absences at work. Progressive property management companies, workplaces and learning environments implement IAQ Assessments annually. They know that it is a factor in creating a healthier workforce and lower staff turnover.

♦ Better maintenance for fewer bucks. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, mold and moisture remediation costs are more than 100 times greater on average than the cost of a prevention program. Indoor Air quality testing can help prevent the spread of these issues in early stages. Additionally, it will help adjust humidity levels, which helps preserve building materials from deterioration.

Start your journey to a better environment – request a free consultation!


About T. Harris Environmental Management

T. Harris Environmental Management Inc. (THEM) is a leading Canadian environmental consulting firm in the fields of environmental services, hazardous materials management, industrial hygiene, and occupational health and safety. Our professional staff serve a wide range of clientele including commercial, government, industrial institutional, and residential. We are passionate about health & safety and committed to excellence. Since 1979, we continue to provide high quality services, taking pride in building long-term relationships with our clients. We are dedicated to understanding your concerns and meeting your needs by delivering efficient, cost-effective solutions.

Mission: To be the preeminent niche environmental and occupational health and safety consulting firm in Ontario and Quebec.

Vision: To enhance our position as a premier niche environmental consulting company based on knowledge, innovation, technology, and be at the forefront of emerging EHS concerns and regulatory changes. We will achieve this by further developing our expertise, fostering growth of our team, synergistic relationships, excellence in performance, and strengthening client relationships.

Value Statement: We are committed to understanding client concerns and meeting our client’s needs by formulating practical, efficient, and cost-effective solutions.


Definitions:
Sick Building Syndrome (SBS): Describes a situation in which a direct correlation can be made between the time spent within a building and the negative effects on both the short-term health and general comfort levels of those within the building can be drawn[i].
Building Related Illness:A series of health related instances in which occupants of a specific building are more susceptible to illness than reasonably expected. This is often observed in large commercial or government buildings in which there are limited methods of natural air exchange within the building[ii].
Objectionable Odors: Any odor present within a building (or workspace) that when found by itself, or when combined with other gases, is foul or unpleasant.
Sources:
[i] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2796751/
[ii] https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2FBF02914982?LI=true

The Benefits of Trees – What You May Not Know!

Posted by in Uncategorized | September 29, 2017
Comments Off on The Benefits of Trees – What You May Not Know!

You’ve heard it all before – planting trees is beneficial to both the environment and your health. A well-known and direct impact of trees include their capacity to absorb air pollution and soften the effects of climate change in cities. It is impressive that trees can store approximately one quarter of carbon emissions produced by industry. Have you ever wondered just how helpful they can be in improving local neighbourhoods and commercial properties?

Turns out trees play a large role in protecting your real estate.  Did you know that planting a variety of trees on your property can help to mitigate flood damage and stop erosion that could lead to costly property damage? Additionally, the natural shade that the canopy of a tree creates can work to lower the energy costs in your home or place of business.

The advantages don’t stop there – new advances in environmental science are discovering the potential of trees for the decontamination and remediation of contaminated sites. They can help in long term restoration of former landfills or contaminated waste sites by sucking up contaminated groundwater and decreasing runoff. This type of remediation is known as “phytoremediation”: many trees have the capability to isolate harmful chemicals within pockets in their cells. They also neutralize toxins entirely through self-produced compounds. A big advantage is that these trees do not accumulate permanent pollution residue. This means they can eventually be used as wood products in future remediation and soil enrichment projects. Of course, each case of contamination is unique and this is not a universal solution.

Contact us for your solution to land contamination

In addition to the direct impact trees have on our environment and general health, new studies are pointing to their substantial economic advantages. A research study comprised of data collected throughout Toronto discovered that having ten or more tees on your block greatly improves the quality of life. The difference ten trees make is equivalent to moving to a neighborhood with a $10,000 higher median income. Additionally, in a recent study TD Canada Trust economists concluded that each year the City of Toronto benefits from approximately $80 million in environmental cost savings  from Toronto’s estimated 10 million trees. These savings come from snow and rain cover, lower heating and cooling costs, and the added benefit of cleaner air in the environment.

T. Harris Environmental Management understands that trees are at the root of a healthy environment. That is why our team contributes to environmental improvement through local events and initiatives, such as tree planting and mulching. Last year our team has volunteered in mulching a large number of recently planted trees to protect them and ensure healthy growth. Whether it is sheltering in their shade on a hot summer day or helping to clean a former landfill site, the benefits of trees should not be overlooked.


Sources:

https://www.thestar.com/news/gta/2015/07/13/living-on-tree-lined-streets-has-health-benefits-study-finds.html
https://www.canadiangeographic.ca/article/could-trees-be-chemical-recycling-centres-future
http://discovermagazine.com/2009/jan/26-worker-trees-clean-contaminated-water


About T. Harris Environmental Management

T. Harris Environmental Management Inc. (THEM) is a leading Canadian environmental consulting firm in the fields of environmental services, hazardous materials management, industrial hygiene, and occupational health and safety. Our professional staff serve a wide range of clientele including commercial, government, industrial institutional, and residential. We are passionate about health & safety and committed to excellence. Since 1979, we continue to provide high quality services, taking pride in building long-term relationships with our clients. We are dedicated to understanding your concerns and meeting your needs by delivering efficient, cost-effective solutions.

Mission: To be the preeminent niche environmental and occupational health and safety consulting firm in Ontario and Quebec.

Vision: To enhance our position as a premier niche environmental consulting company based on knowledge, innovation, technology, and be at the forefront of emerging EHS concerns and regulatory changes. We will achieve this by further developing our expertise, fostering growth of our team, synergistic relationships, excellence in performance, and strengthening client relationships.

Value Statement: We are committed to understanding client concerns and meeting our client’s needs by formulating practical, efficient, and cost-effective solutions.

Prepare For The Residential Project Provincial Blitz (Sept. 1 to Nov. 30, 2017)

Posted by in Uncategorized | September 7, 2017
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Throughout the fall of 2017, the Ministry of Labour (MoL) will be conducting an inspection blitz on residential construction projects. Some of the areas the Ministry inspectors will specifically be targeting are outlined below.

Meeting regulatory requirements: control of exposure to biological or chemical agents

An employer has to take all reasonable measures to protect workers from exposure to a hazardous chemical or biological agent.  This includes designated substances such as asbestos, lead, silica etc. With hazardous substances, an assessment is required to determine if a health risk exists for workers and whether or not a control program is required. The assessment should include the following:

  • information regarding the use, handling, storage and disposal of the designated substance
  • actual and potential exposure of workers to the substance
  • methods and procedures required to control that exposure

CONTACT US FOR YOUR CONSULTATION

Noise exposure around power equipment and other occupational health issues

Noise is one of the most common occupational health hazards encountered in the workplace. In construction, there are many noisy tasks and power equipment is one of main sources. Every employer has a duty to protect workers and take all measures reasonably necessary in the circumstances to protect workers from exposure to hazardous sound levels. This includes:

  • Measuring noise levels
  • Using appropriate engineering controls and safe work practices
  • Providing correct hearing protection, training and instruction

LEARN MORE ABOUT NOISE ASSESSMENTS

Other issues covered in the blitz and how to prepare

Preparing for an MoL blitz should include a review of Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) sections and regulations that apply to your site and making sure your workers are currently meeting these requirements. It is also important to ensure that all worker documentation is present, updated and readily available for the Ministry Inspector. Inspectors can legally enter any project or workplace at any time without warrant or notice. Here are other items covered in this blitz:

  • scaffolding assembled, used and disassembled safely
  • safe stacking of roof shingles
  • safety precautions taken when trusses are installed
  • proper use of ladders
  • fall protection systems such as guardrails, appropriate fall protection protective equipment and adequate tie off points
  • ergonomic factors when moving heavy materials
  • heavy equipment operation, including line-of-sight hazards.
Get ready and most importantly, keep your workers safe!
CONTACT US : 1-888-ASK-THEM

Sources/useful links:
https://www.ontario.ca/document/construction-sector-plan-2017-2018/inspection-blitzes#residentialprojects
https://www.labour.gov.on.ca/english/hs/sawo/blitzes/
https://www.labour.gov.on.ca/english/hs/pubs/noise/index.php
https://www.labour.gov.on.ca/english/hs/pubs/asbestos/

Canadian CEO of the Month: Never Let a Friend Down

Posted by in Uncategorized | May 11, 2017
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This article was first published in Corporate Vision Magazine on www.corp-vis.com


John C. Fisher, B.A. (Specialized Honours), M.B.A. Candidate – President and CEO at T. Harris Environmental Management Inc. is delighted to have won the Canadian CEO of the Month award and is deeply humbled and grateful for even being considered for this prestigious award. We spoke to him to find out more about this and the work of his impressive corporation.


On winning the Canadian CEO of the Month award, it is even more satisfying to know that this recognition was a reflection of being nominated not by my own advocacy or the solicitation of my team, but from external sources. However, I accept this award on behalf of my team as without them I would not have enjoyed the success that I have. This award is truly a reflection of the great people I am surrounded by, and of their hard work and dedication to the success of our team.

I am very passionate, motivated, engaged and committed to be the best team leader that I can be. In addition, I am a very empathetic leader who has been found to be in the top 5% of Canadians when it comes to this trait. Furthermore, I am always looking to not only improve my abilities, but that of my team by building a collaborative environment in which all can reach their potential.

T. Harris Environmental Management Inc. (THEM) is a corporation consisting of a diverse group of industrial hygiene (CIH and ROH), scientific (P. Geo.), engineering (P. Eng.) and technical (CET, AMRT) professionals providing consulting services since 1979. Our staff is highly educated including multiple M.B.A. and Ph.D. team members.

As consultants, THEM primarily assists clients to maintain compliance with a myriad of environmental, occupational health and safety, and hazardous materials legislation including numerous Canadian Acts, Regulations and By-Laws.

As a corporation, we are currently members of the Toronto chapter of the Building Owners and Managers Association (BOMA), Toronto Construction Association (TCA), Environmental Abatement Council of Ontario (EACO), and our staff are members of their respective professional associations. Our clients include members of the organisations above, but we provide consulting services to a wide variety of educational, industrial, real estate, banking, commercial and government clients.

The firm’s strategy and key principles

The consulting business has evolved significantly since the 1970s and we strive to stay at the forefront. The fundamentals of our strategy are simple. THEM is committed to providing our clientele quality services at cost effective prices and in a time-efficient manner. Our motivated staff, supported by state-of-the-art technology, have the expertise to identify a problem and to implement an efficient solution based on our client’s needs.

Our key principle as initially articulated by our founder was and is ‘we always treat our clients as friends, because you never let a friend down’.

Professional services

Our management team is hands-on and dedicated solely to providing professional services in a time efficient, cost effective and regulatory compliant manner to all of our clients. Each project manager has the capability and authority to handle any project specifics that may arise and would be considered to be the main contact for their particular geographic area. As such, they have the authority to resolve any local issues without contacting head office, but at the same time, keeping the primary project manager informed of all developments. Ultimately, each Regional Manager or Head Office Project Manager is accountable to me, the Principal, President and CEO of the firm, and I have the final word on resolving any potential conflict that cannot be resolved locally or to the satisfaction of our client.

Maintaining motivation and positivity to remain successful

It is the belief that on a person for person basis that I have the best team possible to execute and fulfill our mission for what we want to achieve both individually and collectively. I am very fortunate in that I truly love what I do and the people I work with. Furthermore, being a ‘glass half full’ individual fosters a general positivity and the feeling that with any challenge there is a solution that will lead to further engagement and motivation of not only me, but the team to reach for greater success by utilising what former CEO and Chairman of General Electric (GE) and Business Guru – Jack Welch refers to as having ‘every brain in the game’.

Challenges successful CEO’s encounter

For me, this is difficult because I have some physical disabilities that are visually noticeable. As we are a service based company, our strength is our people and I emphasise to my team that first impressions are critical in establishing credibility when dealing with new project teams. Like all individuals – my appearance and voice have a big influence on the first impression I give when meeting new clients – and has led some to question my abilities or how I attained my position as CEO.

As such, personnel issues have been at the forefront of most of the challenges that I have faced.  Finding, and working with team members that are accepting of others, able to recognise the strengths in their teammates and cognizant of their roles has allowed me to become resilient and build a stronger team as well.

The state of your industry currently

Our industry has matured and come a long way since T. Harris Environmental Management Inc. opened its doors as the first consultancy in Canada to be formed specifically to deal with asbestos in 1979. As such, the industry has become commoditised due to the number of companies that profess to be Environmental/OH & S consultants. This has led to a ‘race to the bottom’ for some, with respect to fees, and has made it challenging for us to solely advocate for the value proposition that we strive to maintain and advocate for, which is harder to articulate to our clients who are most concerned with merely the price.

In addition, the state of the economy is always a factor and the mantra of major clients is to only accept the lowest cost provider, which has led to a further precipice in the quality of the various companies in terms of personnel and their training and that are considered part of our industry.

The role of technology in the industry

One of our goals is to be endlessly innovative and promote a culture that fosters not only the development of ideas, but also their implementation. As we are a scientifically entrenched firm, technology plays an integral role in allowing us to become more efficient in the delivery of our services. The sophistication of the sampling equipment and software models that we employ also allows us to differentiate ourselves from our competition. At the same time, we are committed to formulating practical and cost-effective solutions for our clients.

Before we purchase any equipment or software, it is vigorously reviewed from the perspective of what efficiencies it will bring in providing services to our clients and how it will aid in fulfilling our mandate as outlined in our mission, vison and value statements. In conjunction with this, it is established within our firm that all investments must achieve our target Return on Investment (ROI) to be considered feasible.

In addition, we are committed and engaged in facilitating the latest/state of the art training and development courses for all of our employees.

What industry trends CEO’s follow to ensure success

Through our associations, we receive annual reports which outline the trends in the market sector in which we compete.  We can then use this information to benchmark ourselves against others in our industry to verify if the changes or methods we are implementing in the delivery of our service offerings is providing the results we want to ensure our success.  In addition, by being active members in various industry associations and advocacy groups we can view the trends that are developing through those groups.

Over the next five years, it is my belief that there will be some consolidation in our industry and as governments become more concerned about the environment and occupational health and safety, regulatory requirements will become more onerous and provide an impetus to allow growth as compliance will become mandatory and enforced.

Future aspirations, plans and projects

I look to motivate my team to fulfil our mission, vision and value statements, but specifically with respect to our mission statement, ‘to become the preeminent niche environmental and occupational health and safety consulting firm in Ontario and Quebec’.

To be a little coy, I am looking to expand our mission statement to areas outside of Ontario and Quebec. But more importantly, to further diversify our service offerings to allow us to achieve our status as providing exceptional services in a niche environment.

Closing thoughts

I want to take this opportunity to thank all of our clients, my team members and vendors for their great support over the past 37 years for our firm in general, and 28 years for me, specifically. I have been truly fortunate to have been associated and worked with so many wonderful people. I look forward to maintaining old friendships and creating new ones.

It is our dedicated personnel that have enabled us and me to maintain our commitment to our clients and suppliers. Obviously, my team is our most valued asset and I am proud of the commitment that they make to me and to our clients.

I believe that we are still at the forefront of most environmental and occupational health and safety issues in Canada. We celebrate our successes, which I believe is attributable to the strong set of principles and values that I have and this company has embodied for all these years.

This article was first published in Corporate Vision Magazine on www.corp-vis.com


About Us:

T. Harris Environmental Management Inc. (THEM) is a leading Canadian environmental consulting firm in the fields of environmental services, hazardous materials management, industrial hygiene, and occupational health and safety. Our professional staff serve a wide range of clientele including commercial, government, industrial institutional, and residential. We are passionate about health & safety and committed to excellence.

Start your journey to better EHS – request a free consultation!

For more than 35 years, we continue to provide high quality services, taking pride in building long-term relationships with our clients. We are dedicated to understanding your concerns and meeting your needs by delivering efficient, cost-effective solutions.

Mission: To be the preeminent niche environmental and occupational health and safety consulting firm in Ontario, Quebec and Alberta.

Vision: To enhance our position as a premier niche environmental consulting company based on knowledge, innovation, technology, and be at the forefront of emerging EHS concerns and regulatory changes. We will achieve this by further developing our expertise, fostering growth of our team, synergistic relationships, excellence in performance, and strengthening client relationships.

Value Statement: We are committed to understanding client concerns and meeting our client’s needs by formulating practical, efficient, and cost-effective solutions.

Tips to address floods and water damage

Posted by in Uncategorized | May 8, 2017
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When this severe flooding happens, it can be a costly experience both emotionally and financially. While it is tempting to wait and see what happens or to try to fix the situation on your own, it is critical to get a professional to address floods and water damage right away.

Looking for a restoration professional? Request a free consultation!

Tips for mitigating against further damage:

The longer you wait – the more damaged your property can become! Moisture only needs a few hours to cause critical damage to materials in a home or workplace. When any type of water loss or damage occurs, the amount of time a material stays wet is the most crucial factor in determining the damage sustained, and whether or not the material can be restored.

Responding quickly decreases the likelihood of substantial mould growth, which can further damage building materials and cause potentially severe health effects to building occupants.

Don’t try to handle it yourself. Floods and sewage backups may carry with them a lot of bacteria, viruses, and fungi. Any type of contact with these microorganisms can be dangerous, especially to at risk building occupants such as seniors and children. Professional restoration companies possess the proper safety equipment for these situations, are trained to protect themselves and building occupants from these hazards.

Choosing a qualified water damage professional:

In addition to contacting your insurance company, the first call made in a water loss situation should be to a qualified water damage restoration service. Finding a company that can respond quickly, provide a full range of services, and is available 24/7 is the first crucial step in response to any water damage or flood situation.

Choose certified water damage restoration professionals. IICRC (Institute of Inspection Cleaning and Restoration Certification) certification assures a company possesses the most up to date training, and is equipped with the knowledge and skills to effectively handle your specific situation. The IICRC maintains a Certified Firm registrant-only database, making it easy to find a professional in your neighbourhood.

Restoration technicians have an extensive selection of technology at their disposal. Water damage professionals are equipped with vacuums and pumping systems, dehumidifiers, air movers and moisture metres to assess and effectively dry building components, and chemicals required to destroy mould and fungi growth.

What can an EHS professional do:

In situations with extensive mould growth, or that involve other severe public health concerns, such as buildings with high risk occupants, an Environmental, Health and Safety professional should be used to assist in evaluating damage and determining cleaning/drying procedures. This will help you in outlining a specific scope of work for the restoration contractor and ensure you are doing more than you really need to.

EHS professionals can also provide post-remediation testing and analysis ensure the effectiveness of remediation and restoration activities. This gives you both records of completed work, as well as the peace of mind that your home or building was restored quickly and safely.

About Us:

T. Harris Environmental Management Inc. (THEM) is a leading Canadian environmental consulting firm in the fields of environmental services, hazardous materials management, industrial hygiene, and occupational health and safety. Our professional staff serve a wide range of clientele including commercial, government, industrial institutional, and residential. We are passionate about health & safety and committed to excellence.

Start your journey to better EHS – request a free consultation!

For more than 35 years, we continue to provide high quality services, taking pride in building long-term relationships with our clients. We are dedicated to understanding your concerns and meeting your needs by delivering efficient, cost-effective solutions.

Mission: To be the preeminent niche environmental and occupational health and safety consulting firm in Ontario, Quebec and Alberta.

Vision: To enhance our position as a premier niche environmental consulting company based on knowledge, innovation, technology, and be at the forefront of emerging EHS concerns and regulatory changes. We will achieve this by further developing our expertise, fostering growth of our team, synergistic relationships, excellence in performance, and strengthening client relationships.

Value Statement: We are committed to understanding client concerns and meeting our client’s needs by formulating practical, efficient, and cost-effective solutions.

CELEBRATING OUR EXPANSION

Posted by in News & Announcements,News & Announcements | April 5, 2017
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With growing demand for environmental consulting services in Western Canada, it is with great pleasure that John C. Fisher, President & CEO of T. Harris Environmental Management Inc. (THEM), is excited to announce the addition of a new location in Edmonton, AB. As of April 3, 2017, this new location will not only complement, but add to the core competencies of our existing strongholds in Ontario and Quebec. The addition of our Edmonton team greatly enhances our capabilities in supporting clients with multiple locations across Canada.

Furthermore, we introduce you to Garry Adams, B.Sc., P.Ag. our Manager-Environmental Services who will be running our office in Edmonton and not only looks forward to introducing himself to you, but the advantages that working with THEM can bring in resolving your environmental and occupational health and safety concerns.

This expansion is another step towards providing the Alberta market with high quality services, which our long-standing clients have become accustomed to. Since late 1979, THEM has literally built a diverse client base that not only includes some of the biggest players in the oil and gas industry, but many of Canada’s leaders in the industrial, commercial and institutional (ICI) community. The strong reputation of our firm is based on the success of our clients, and our ability to provide practical, effective, and timely solutions to what are considered very complex problems. We are proud of the fact that 37 years later our unwavering commitment to these principles and values is instilled in each of our team members.

At THEM we like to treat all as friends. This philosophy is based on the principle that you never let a friend down. This growth will further enhance THEM’s pursuit of fulfilling our mission to be the preeminent niche environmental and occupational health and safety consulting firm in every market that we serve.

For those of you who are not familiar with THEM, our diverse and multidisciplinary organization consists of a team of well qualified individuals including Professional Engineers, Geoscientist and Agrologists, Certified Industrial and Registered Occupational Hygienists, Environmental Scientists, Engineering Technicians and Technologists, Geologists and Laboratory Technicians. Working with a motivated staff and supported by state-of-the-art technology, we utilize these resources to provide effective solutions as dictated by individual projects. We have the staff and expertise to economically and quickly handle a complete range of environmental and construction materials services, regardless of project size or complexity.

It has been a pleasure serving our clients in Ontario and Quebec for the last 37 years and we look forward to providing Western Canada in general, and Alberta in particular with superior EHS consulting services for many years to come.

Our new office is officially open to serve you. Contact us today:

T. Harris Environmental Management – Edmonton, AB

Address: 10665 Jasper Ave, 14th floor, Edmonton, AB, T5J 3S9
Telephone: (587) 338-5737 Fax: 1-888-679-8436
E-mail: info@tharris.ca

Our Newsletter

Posted by in Uncategorized | February 23, 2017
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NEW REGULATIONS

New water testing regulations for child care facilities
As of July 1, 2017, the updated drinking water regulations will come into effect. It applies to schools and child care centres. To learn more, read our summary.
The switch to EASR
A new online registration process for facilities with air emissions is in effect as of January 31, 2017. Some businesses are now required to obtain an Environmental Activity and Sector Registration (EASR). See if you qualify.
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HOT TOPICS FROM OUR BLOG

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What’s lurking around your building? 
Winter is forcing animals to look for food and shelter – and some find both on your property. Raccoons may look furry and cute, but they are no joke when you are forced to share living space with them. Learn about the dangers they carry and the remedies that keep them away.
FEATURED SERVICES

Indoor Air Quality (IAQ)
In the winter, people spend most of their time in enclosed spaces. Find out what great indoor air quality really means with these 10 facts.
Training and Lunch & Learns
We understand the difficulty of staying current with industry standards and regulation. Our experts will help you understand regulations and standards, identify hazards, assess solutions and implement control  measures. We offer in-depth courses or quick learning sessions.
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ABOUT US

T. Harris Environmental Management
T. Harris Environmental Management Inc. (THEM) is a leading Canadian environmental consulting firm in the fields of environmental services, hazardous materials management, industrial hygiene, and occupational health and safety. Our professional staff serve a wide range of clientele including commercial, government, industrial institutional, and residential. We are passionate about health & safety and committed to excellence. 
For more than 35 years, we continue to provide high quality services, taking pride in building long-term relationships with our clients. We are dedicated to understanding your concerns and meeting your needs by delivering efficient, cost-effective solutions.
Mission: To be the preeminent niche environmental and occupational health and safety consulting firm in Ontario and Quebec.
Vision: To enhance our position as a premier niche environmental consulting company based on knowledge, innovation, technology, and be at the forefront of emerging EHS concerns and regulatory changes. We will achieve this by further developing our expertise, fostering growth of our team, synergistic relationships, excellence in performance, and strengthening client relationships.
Value Statement: We are committed to understanding client concerns and meeting our client’s needs by formulating practical, efficient, and cost-effective solutions.

 

 

 

Tips From Our Consultants: 10 Things You Want to Know About Indoor Air Quality

Posted by in Uncategorized | February 14, 2017
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Do you know how indoor air quality may affect your productivity? Or, the easy steps you can take to improve the air you breathe?  If you are not sure – you are not alone! According to some studies, building owners, designers and managers are often unaware of the costs and benefits of indoor air quality improvement. Our experts have conducted thousands of Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) Assessments in public, commercial, institutional and residential buildings.

Contact us to start your journey to evaluate your IAQ!

Here are some tips from THEM to give you an idea how indoor air quality can impact your tenants or your workplace:

♦Maintaining great indoor air quality benefits the employer: it has proven to increase productivity and reduce absences at work.

♦ Great indoor air quality helps attract better tenants, since it is a key component of a healthy indoor environment.

♦ Indoor air quality (IAQ) problems in buildings is directly linked to Sick Building Syndrome and Building Related Illness.

♦ Poor indoor air quality can make tenants feel ill. Sick Building Syndrome symptoms usually persist inside an airtight building with indoor air quality problems. Complaints of eye and upper respiratory tract irritation, difficulty concentrating, headaches, malaise and / or feeling of bad air quality are just some of the possible Sick Building Syndrome

♦ For good air quality, carefully choose the materials you use inside your building. Sick Building Syndrome is thought to be caused by the buildup of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) from chemical products, building materials, personal care products usage, and/or carbon dioxide.

♦ Check your indoor air quality if you are making your building more energy-efficient. The usual cause of Sick Building Syndrome is often related to limited natural fresh air infiltration in the more airtight energy-efficient buildings and/or inadequate temperature and relative humidity control. It is typically associated with the inadequate fresh air supply for the number of persons and types of activities in the space.

♦ Indoor air quality tests can help detect the sources of Building Related Illness. Symptoms of a Building Related Illness are usually linked to a specific source in the environment such as carbon monoxide poisoning from a malfunctioning combustion appliance, allergic reactions to mould growing in the space or Legionnaires Disease from contaminated water features in a building, etc.

Contact us to start your journey to evaluate your IAQ!

♦ Watch out for the placement of building air intake vents. Objectionable odours are the leading cause of IAQ complaints. They can be related to the intake vents being too close to dumpsters, loading docks, kitchen exhausts, plumbing vents or local ventilation exhausts.

♦ There is a comprehensive guide on how to manage IAQ challenges in your environment. “ASHRAE Standard 62.1- 2016 – Ventilation for acceptable air quality” is a great place to look for guidelines. It is considered a ‘best management practice’. Proactively assessing indoor air quality in your work environment is one of the distinctive actions of a diligent employer!

♦ Indoor air can be 2 to 5 times (and even up to 100 times) more polluted than the worst outdoor air. Most people recognize the health concerns of outdoor air pollution, so how come we don’t consider and address the effects of exposure to poor indoor air quality?

The impact of the built environment on health of occupants is a growing concern. It has become a key part of sustainability, tenants are increasingly aware of the indoor environmental quality and demand healthy buildings, and top talents look at office environments when evaluating job offers. Our assessment reports will inform you of problem areas and propose a cost-effective, logical course of action to improve conditions.

Start your journey to better EHS – request a free consultation!

 


ABOUT T. HARRIS ENVIRONMENTAL MANAGEMENT

Harris Environmental Management Inc. (THEM) is a leading Canadian environmental consulting firm in the fields of environmental services, hazardous materials management, industrial hygiene, and occupational health and safety. Our professional staff serve a wide range of clientele including commercial, government, industrial institutional, and residential. We are passionate about health & safety and committed to excellence. For more than 35 years, we continue to provide high quality services, taking pride in building long-term relationships with our clients. We are dedicated to understanding your concerns and meeting your needs by delivering efficient, cost-effective solutions.

Mission: To be the preeminent niche environmental and occupational health and safety consulting firm in Ontario and Quebec.

Vision: To enhance our position as a premier niche environmental consulting company based on knowledge, innovation, technology, and be at the forefront of emerging EHS concerns and regulatory changes. We will achieve this by further developing our expertise, fostering growth of our team, synergistic relationships, excellence in performance, and strengthening client relationships.

Value Statement: We are committed to understanding client concerns and meeting our client’s needs by formulating practical, efficient, and cost-effective solutions.