How to Build Your Own HSE Legal Register

An effective HSE management system requires that you have in place the processes and procedures required to meet the legal requirements of the jurisdiction in which you operate.  These legislative requirements will obviously depend upon the country of operation, and can include a handful to literally hundreds of laws and regulations (as discussed in detail in previous blog posts: An Overview of Occupational Health and Safety Laws and Regulations in Asia and the Middle East and An Overview of Environmental Laws in Asia and the Middle East.

The regulatory regime in every country constantly evolves, so developing an HSE Legal Register is most definitely not a do-it-once-and-forget-about-it-task, but rather one that requires regular review and updating.  This means regularly scanning for new laws and regulations and updating the register as required.

There are several options for obtaining an HSE Legal Register for your company, including do-it-yourself, hiring a consultant, or retaining the services of one of the many web-based HSE legal register providers.  Each has their pros and cons:

Source Advantages Disadvantages
Do It Yourself • cheapest (if not accounting for your time!)
• provides very good training on the HSE laws and regulations in your country
• no assurance that you will find all of the pertinent laws and regulations applicable to your business; some laws and regulations are not readily available
• can be very time consuming
• can be challenging to figure out if and how a particular law applies to your operation
Consultant • assurance of professional quality and completeness (assuming of course a reputable consultant is retained!)
• can provide customized register for your specific needs
• can be combined with other complimentary activities such as compliance assessment to be more cost effective
• may be too expensive for some small businesses
• may need to be retained on long-term to provide updating service
Web-Based • assurance of professional quality and completeness
• some can provide customized register for your specific needs (at extra cost)
• can provide virtually instant notification of updates to laws and regulations (at extra cost)
• may be too expensive for some small businesses
• impersonal, no one-on-one or face-to-face service as you would receive from a consultant (although some firms do provide a combined on-line and in-country consulting service)
• databases are generally restricted to larger countries in Asia

Redlog does provide HSE legal registry services and would of course be pleased to assist you in your needs.  However, for many smaller facilities and companies in the developing countries of Asia, hiring consultants is often not an option due to limited HSE budgets.

We do not believe, however, that this means that you cannot have in place a fully operational HSE Legal Register, which is suitable for your needs. It is not all that difficult, and for many developing countries with limited laws and regulations it is frankly quite easy (albeit time-consuming).

In this blog post, I am going to take you through a five-step process to enable you to develop your own HSE Legal Register.   We will use Afghanistan as an example and the result will be a fully functional (and free!) HSE Legal Register in Excel format that you can download and modify for your use.  And, for those of you in Afghanistan, this register is complete and ready for you to use as is and to customize for your operations.

The HSE Legal Register Development Process

Process

Step 1: Develop the Template

The first step is to develop a generic template and format for the HSE Legal Register. There are really no restrictions as to how this can be done. But my experience is that simpler is better.  I prefer to use an Excel spreadsheet for the register, but they can also be done in MS Word, in a database such as MS Access, or even written out on index cards if you are old school!

For the purpose of this example, we will use Excel. You don’t need to be an Excel wizard but you do need to know how to manipulate a spreadsheet and it is useful to have skills in Excel formatting and database functions.

Excel can be broken down into worksheets. I suggest that one worksheet (“Summary”) be used to list HSE laws, regulations and other legislative and policy documents and the other worksheet ("Requirements") for the requirements associated with each of these pieces of legislation.

For the Summary worksheet, we typically include the following headings in the worksheet columns:

  • No. – a simple identifier, e.g., 1, 2, 3…
  • Legislation/Regulation Title – The name/title of the piece of legislation
  • Summary of Duty(ies) Imposed – A brief summary of the purpose of the legislation and listing of Articles applicable to HSE issues
  • Effective Date– Date that the legislation was promulgated or came into effect
  • Source – URL to a website, a reference to physical location of the document

The Requirements worksheet is the heart of the HSE register and we typically include the following headings along the worksheet columns:

  • No. – a simple numeric identifier, e.g., 1, 2, 3…
  • Industry – major categories of industry, e.g.., oil and gas, mining, manufacturing, etc.; only needed if you have multiple operations across a broad range of activities
  • Project Phase –development, operations, and decommissioning phases of a project; there may be different HSE requirements for each, e.g., EIA for project development, rehabilitation plan for mine site decommissioning
  • Category – subdivide into as many categories as make sense, e.g.,:
    • Violations
    • Emergency Response
    • Risk Management
    • Worker Health and Safety
    • Air Emissions
    • Water Use
    • Wastewater
    • Water Resources
    • Environmental Protection
    • Historical and Cultural
    • Communities
  • Law/Reg/Standard/Guideline – The name/title of the relevant piece of legislation
  • Governing Body – the national body responsible for governing the legislation
  • Effective Date - date that the legislation was promulgated or came into effect
  • Article/Section No. – Article of Section number of the specific HSE requirement
  • Article, Title or Main Issue – title or heading of the specific HSE requirement
  • Requirement – complete text of the requirement of that Article
  • Notes – any notes needed to clarify the article or context
  • Applicable to the site? (Yes/No) – simple yes or no as to whether the specific article applies to the site
  • Rational for Applicability or Non-Applicability – the reasons that the article is or is not applicable to your operation

Step 2: Gather HSE Laws & Regulations

This step is relatively straightforward.  For many countries, HSE laws and regulations and other regulatory documents can be entirely sourced on-line from government websites (typically in both native and English languages).  There are other databases, albeit often incomplete, that include national and international HSE legislation (although not necessarily complete and up-to-date), for example:

One can also usually obtain hard copies of all pertinent requirements from various government agencies or libraries.

Regardless of the source, make sure to download or obtain the complete document in the governing language and also English, as might be required by you or your management.

Remember, that pertinent HSE laws and regulations are often not restricted to national labor or environmental agencies, but also may be included in legislation from other government bodies, e.g., ministries of oil and gas, mining, water resources, public health, etc. 

Also, there may be additional HSE requirements imposed by state, provincial, municipal and industrial estate bodies.

Finally, international agreements can, in some cases, also directly affect corporate HSE requirements, so do not forget to identify those that have been ratified by your country (see these earlier blog posts for a review of such agreements: What Asian Businesses Need to Know About International OHS Agreements and What Asian Businesses Need to Know About Multilateral Environmental Agreements.

Step 3: Identify the Relevant Articles and Clauses

Once you have the laws and regulations in place, the hard (and tedious) work begins. You now need to go through each piece of legislation and identify each article that pertains to HSE.  A word/pdf search for keywords such as environment, pollution, worker, health, safety is helpful here.

You will find that some Articles are very specific to a single HSE topic and/or requirement while others are general in nature or have many different sub-clauses that refer to different topics and/or requirements. In any case, identify each Article and the specific clause(s) that references HSE requirements and record those in the Summary worksheet.  Check out a few examples below from the Afghanistan register:

No. Title Summary Date Source
2 Hydrocarbons (Petroleum and Gas) Law Regulates hydrocarbon activities in Afghanistan, upstream and downstream. References to HSE are included in Articles 20, 36, 39, 41, 50 and 51 (excludes references to Articles with HSE requirements for bidding process). 28/06/2005 http://www.aisa.org.af/Content/Media/Documents/HydrocarbonsLaw1112014172119361553325325.pdf
4 Labor Law Gives effect to Article 48 of the Constitution. Relevant Articles are 11, 12, 91, 107, 108, 111, 112, 113, 114, 115 and 118. 04/02/2007 http://www.ilo.org/dyn/natlex/natlex4.detail?p_lang=en&p_isn=78309&p_country=AFG&p_classification=01.02
6 Environmental Impact Assessment Regulations These regulations are issues in accordance with Article 22 of the Environment Law in order to govern the process for environmental impact assessment. Relevant to new projects only. 10/03/2008 http://mom.gov.af/Content/files/National_EIA_Policy.pdf
21 Renovation and Expansion of Dams, Streams, and Digging Deep Wells Describes Water Supply Projects Surveying and Designing Directorate, Ministry of Energy and Water's requirements for obtaining a license for dams or deep wells. no date http://www.aisa.org.af/Content/Media/Documents/RenovationExpansionDams3110201416610332553325325.pdf

Step 4: Fill in the HSE Register

Fill in each row of the “Requirements” worksheet with one Article/Clause/Section or part thereof if there are many different requirements. Note that in some cases the same Article may have multiple requirements for different categories, e.g., both worker health and safety and environmental protection. In these cases, enter that Article twice, once for each category.

This is easier to grasp by looking at some examples from the HSE Legal Register for Afghanistan:

No. Industry Phase Category Legislation Governing Body Date Article No. Title Requirement
1 Oil and Gas Development Risk Management Hydrocarbons Regulations MoMP 28/06/2005 23.7 Preparing a Development Programme and Budget 7. A risk management plan in accordance with Article 52 of the Hydrocarbons Law, which shall include the measures and directions established by the Ministry of Mines to prevent any damage and remove any hazards that the Hydrocarbon Operations may cause to affected communities, Contractor’s personnel and the environment.
65 Mining Exploitation Worker Health and Safety Mining Regulations MoMP 14/02/2010 68.7 Terms and Conditions of a Processing Authorization 5. The Authorization Holder shall take in consideration the established law, rule and regulation regarding the standards, health and safety of workers
100 General Operations Worker Health and Safety Labor Law MoLSAMD 04/02/2007 115 Establishment of Fixed and Mobile Medical Centers The organization with due regard to the number of employees and personnel and in accordance with the standards set by the Ministry of Public Health in agreement with the Ministry of Labour, Social Affairs, Martyrs and Disabled, shall establish fixed and mobile centers to carry out, to the possible extent, medical examinations and provide first aid services to the employees and their family members.
124 General Operations Water Use Water Law MoE 26/04/2009 21 Installation of Measuring Devices Water extraction from a source and discharge of wastewater to water courses shall be measured with reliable and certified measuring devices by relevant institutions.

Note that I suggest that for completeness that all HSE articles are included at this stage, even ones that you know are not specifically applicable to your facility. Two reasons for this: (1) company’s modify processes, make changes, and expand so what is not relevant today may be relevant in the future, and (2) it is much easier to include at this stage then to try to go back through all legislation in the future to try to find if there are any other missing Articles.

Step 5: Customize the HSE Register

The final step in developing the HSE Legal Register is to customize it for your needs – or more precisely your company’s needs.

During this step you will identify those Articles that are specific to your operations and provide justification for those that are not applicable; enter this into the last two columns of the "Requirements" worksheet.   Make sure to add sufficient detail so that a third party can readily understand your reasoning behind inclusion or exclusion of an Article.

Congratulations - You're Done!

That’s all there is to it.

Now, feel free to download Redlog’s free HSE Legal Register Template.

This is more than a blank template, indeed, it is a complete HSE Legal Register for Afghanistan. So, for those of you lucky enough to  be working in Afghanistan feel free to use our HSE Legal register.  All you will need to do is customize it (Step 5) for your specific needs. For those of you in other countries, feel free to use this as a template.  You can review the Afghanistan register to give an idea of how much detail is required.

Admittedly, I did overstate the simplicity of developing such the register.  A legal register for Afghanistan is was pretty much as simple as there is – because of the paucity of laws and regulations - and yet even that one takes considerable time and effort to produce.   The time required and complexity would increase many fold for those preparing a register from scratch for a more developed country with more comprehensive HSE laws and regulations.   But, if you have the time, desire and expertise, I encourage you to consider doing this yourself as you will learn a lot and gain considerable knowledge that will be helpful in your career.

And, of course if you need help, contact Redlog and we will be pleased to provide customized HSE Legal Registers for your needs!

What About HSE Compliance Auditing?

Good question and this is the topic for next week’s blog post. In that post we will discuss the types of implementing measure to ensure compliance and how to carry out an internal audit for HSE compliance at your facility.

Thanks for reading.  Keep safe.  Be healthy.  Respect your environment.


I hope that you will bookmark the blog, share it with your colleagues and visit the blog frequently because you find it informative and helpful.  I value your feedback and suggestions for future topics.

Please enter your email in the box at the top of the post and subscribe to our blog HSE Asia - our weekly blog will be emailed directly to you.

Next Week’s Blog Topic: How to Carry Out Your Own HSE Compliance Audit

Photo Credits: Back to School photo courtesy of Merelize at www.freerange.com

Randall D. Shaw, Ph.D.
Managing Director at Redlog Environmental Ltd.
Dr. Randall Shaw is Managing Director of Redlog Environmental Ltd. He has a wide-ranging background in health, safety and environment, with a focus on those HSE issues faced by industry in Asia. Dr. Shaw’s blog posts on HSE issues in Asia are based on his experience from working in more than 30 countries, his pragmatic approach to solving HSE problems, and his desire to pass on this knowledge to others. Ultimately, his goal is to help HSE professionals and companies active in the developing world tackle their HSE issues. You can find him on Twitter (@RedlogHSE) and LinkedIn and he is always keen to discuss HSE issues with others.
Posted in Asia, Environment, HSE, Industrial Hygiene, Laws and Regulations, Middle East, Occupational Health, Worker Safety and tagged , .

10 Comments

  1. HI Randall,

    Thanks for sharing your valuable suggestions on developing a legal register. Myself Alex, the EHS regulatory expert of GE Corporate in MENAT region. I’ve developed many legal registers for various countries in MENAT through the development process that you explained above, and validated each register with a 3rd EHS professional on the content, quality and effectiveness before distributing internally. Feel interesting to chat with you to discuss further.

    • Alex,

      Thanks for your comments. I am very much in favor of the approach you have taken. Developing your own register is tedious and time consuming, but I feel it is well worth the effort as a significant learning experience. A third-party review is then a very good idea as a check. In next week’s blog post I am discussing the issue of compliance with the legal requirements, which is the natural follow-up to the register development process. Feel free to contact me at rshaw@redlogenv.com and we can discuss further offline. Regards.

  2. Hello Randall,
    I am hoping yourself or somebody else of equal knowledge can help me out, I am updating my legal register and under the heading of SI Number I have a e.g. (c.456) I don’t understand what the c. is representing as some have it some don’t?

    Any help will prevent my retinas burning out trying to find this answer?

  3. Hi Randall

    I am currently working on our company’s legal register and found this information very handy. I have out-sourced this exercise owing to time, however thank you very much for this informative article.
    Namibia, Africa

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *