Apr 2, 2020

Toxnet Occupational Health relational database information moved to Haz-Map.

With the National Library of Medicine's decision to shutdown Toxnet much of its content moved to other NLM website, independent of NLM at
http://haz-map.com/

The content of the Haz-Map data tables is the same but the user interface has been improved. Improvements include adding chemical structures, adding popup tips to some agent fields, adding new agent and disease fields, alphabetizing chemical lists on base names of chemicals (without prefixes), and improvements in the user interface for both the computer and mobile devices.

On November 2019, Dr. Jay Brown completed the review of the first 1250 chemicals entered into the database. Review of the second 1250 chemicals added was started on March 5. He is busy checking spelling, hyperlinks, IARC classifications, TLVs, IDLHs, vapor pressures, and disease links.

If you have been a previous user of Haz-Map, I encourage you to view the new website and bookmark this new location in your Internet browser application.


Cancer risk among career firefighters are at increased risk for five cancers with typically stronger associations in those diagnosed younger than the age of 50

Conclusion
Male career firefighters in Florida are at increased risk for five cancers with typically stronger associations in those diagnosed younger than the age of 50, while there was evidence for increased thyroid and brain cancer, and possibly melanoma risk in female firefighters. Larger cohorts with adequate female representation, along with the collection of well‐characterized exposure histories, are needed to more precisely examine cancer risk in this occupational group.

Full study at:
https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1002/ajim.23086

Good webinar from Duke about their massive program to decontaminate N95 filtering facepieces

Good webinar from Duke about their massive program to decontaminate N95 filtering facepieces viewed here;

https://vmw-oesoapps.duhs.duke.edu/N95Webinar/GMT20200331-190119_Duke-Healt_3840x2160.mp4

Apr 1, 2020

Mar 31, 2020

Free Resources for Pandemic Support form CCOHS

To support workplaces in protecting the health and well-being of their employees during the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, CCOHS has made helpful resources, courses and PDF versions of guides available free of charge.  

Online Courses

Publications (PDF versions)

View the complete list of available resources, including fact sheets, podcasts and posters.

The Health and Safety Report, a free monthly newsletter produced by the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety (CCOHS), provides information, advice, and resources that help support a safe and healthy work environment and the total well being of workers.

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) Supply Equivalents (from ECRI)

Of possible interest is the Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) Supply Equivalents (xlsx): "Best matches for the three most popular exam gloves, disinfecting wipes, face shields, isolation gowns, IV solutions, N95 air purifying respirators, shoe covers, surgical masks, and universal transport medium based on key performance indicators (KPIs) and functional equivalence"

Spreadsheet:

I am but the messenger; I do not have the knowledge to critically evaluate this resource. But I hope it is of utility, thanks.

Also see:

Mar 29, 2020

EPA suspends enforcement of environmental laws amid coronavirus

(The Hill) "This EPA statement is essentially a nationwide waiver of environmental rules for the indefinite future. It tells companies across the country that they will not face enforcement even if they emit unlawful air and water pollution in violation of environmental laws, so long as they claim that those failures are in some way 'caused' by the virus pandemic. And it allows them an out on monitoring too, so we may never know how bad the violating pollution was," she wrote in a statement to The Hill.

The EPA has been under pressure from a number of industries, including the oil industry, to suspend enforcement of a number of environmental regulations due to the pandemic.

"EPA is committed to protecting human health and the environment, but recognizes challenges resulting from efforts to protect workers and the public from COVID-19 may directly impact the ability of regulated facilities to meet all federal regulatory requirements," EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler said in a statement.

Read on at:
https://thehill.com/policy/energy-environment/489753-epa-suspends-enforcement-of-environmental-laws-amid-coronavirus

Mar 27, 2020

Webinar COVID-19: Transportation Workers--Impact of Emergency Declarations and Other Occupational Health Issues

Topic
COVID-19: Transportation Workers--Impact of Emergency Declarations and Other Occupational Health Issues

Description
COVID-19 has affected many industries including transportation. Truck drivers and many other transportation workers have been identified as essential critical infrastructure workers during this pandemic. Commercial motor vehicle (CMV) drivers and others face unique challenges during normal operations, but during this crisis, many of their routine regulatory, health and safety, and lifestyle challenges have become more complicated. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration and the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) have issued several emergency declarations and guidance documents including those affecting CMV medical examinations and drug and alcohol testing.

During this webinar, Dr. Natalie Hartenbaum, co-chair of ACOEM's Transportation Section, will discuss the challenges faced during the COVID-19 pandemic by those in the transportation industry with a focus on truck drivers. She will review pertinent regulatory relief and other guidance provided by DOT or the transportation agencies which relate to the occupational health professional. This webinar is brought to you with support from the ACOEM Transportation Section.

Speaker:
Natalie P. Hartenbaum, MD, MPH, FACOEM
President and Chief Medical Officer of OccuMedix
Dresher, PA
Time

Mar 30, 2020 12:00 PM in Eastern Time (US and Canada)

Full info:

Mar 25, 2020

Webinar COVID-19: Protecting Health Care Workers --Decontamination & Reuse of Respirators

Friday, March 27, 2020, at 12:00 PM EDT

1.5 hour webinar with live Q&A

Occupational health care providers in the United States (U.S.) are currently addressing emergency protocols for protecting health care workers (HCWs) from COVID-19. However, there are many unanswered questions related to protecting HCWs especially with the limited supply of personal protective equipment (PPE) such as N95 respirators.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) should release guidance documents this week on decontamination of FFRs, elastomeric respirators, PAPRs, and covering a respirator with a surgical mask.

In this webinar, the speakers will review the NIOSH/CDC guidance followed by a discussion of studies on and systems for the decontamination of N95s. The presentations will be followed by live, moderated Q&A.

Moderator:
David Rempel, MD, FACOEM, Professor Emeritus, Division of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, University of California, San Francisco

Speakers:
CDC/NIOSH Guidance on Decontamination of FFR and Elastomeric Respirators:
TBD, National Personal Protective Technology Laboratory (NPPTL), CDC/NIOSH

Review of Studies on the Decontamination of N95 Respirators:
Lisa Brosseau, ScD, CIH, Professor Emeritus, Division of Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences, School of Public Health, University of Illinois, Chicago

Update on University of Nebraska Medical Center Decontamination System Using UV-C:
Shawn G. Gibbs, PhD, MBA, CIH, Professor of Environmental Health, Indiana University School of Public Health

Reusable Elastomeric Respirators: University of Maryland Experience and Scientific Update:
Stella Hines, MD, MSPH, Assistant Professor, School of Medicine, University of Maryland

The Webinar will be recorded. The recording and slides will be emailed to all registrants following the presentation.

Register here

Mar 24, 2020

Health care workers need protection during pandemic: NUPGE and HSABC release new research showing higher precautions recommended

The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) and Health Sciences Association of BC (HSA) released today a research paper focused on respiratory protection for health workers caring for COVID-19 patients.

"Health care workers around the world are reporting that personal protective equipment guidelines are inconsistent and in short supply. As this pandemic hits our health care system in Canada, the priority must be to keep our health care workers healthy so they can provide the care patients need," said NUPGE President Larry Brown.

"HSA contacted Dr. John Murphy, an expert on occupational hygiene and adjunct professor at the Dalla Lana School of Public Health, University of Toronto, for science-based guidance on the best measures for infection control among health care workers. His research confirms that the best practice is to use N95 respiratory protection. This supports the position of other national health care unions in Canada, and the joint advice to members from unions across Canada," Brown said. See March 13, 2020 Joint Statement

"HSA represents more than 15,000 health science professionals working in our hospitals, including the respiratory therapists responsible for keeping patients in respiratory distress alive and the diagnostic technologists conducting the scans, x-rays, and other critical tests needed to diagnose hospitalized patients. When working with COVID-19 patients, a surgical mask is simply not the best practice for infection control. It is important our members know that and make sound decisions about how to best protect themselves while providing care," said HSA President Val Avery.

Recognizing the world-wide shortage of personal protective equipment, Dr. Murphy recommends that properly fit-tested N95 masks be prioritized for allocation based on assessment of the extent of potential exposure and risk, and that surgical masks be used as a back up. In all cases, eye protection must accompany respiratory protection.

Link:  Respiratory Protection for Health Workers Caring for COVID-19 Patients (Murphy 2020)
Link:  Advisory Report for the Health Sciences Associat ion of Br i t ish Columbia and the Nat ional Union of Public and General Employees on Respiratory Protection Dur ing Care of Influenza Patients (Murphy 2009)

NIEHS ALL-HANDS MESSAGE**: PRESS RELEASE: COVID-19 Workers Get Training to Protect Their Own

COVID-19 Workers get training to protect their own health

https://www.niehs.nih.gov/news/newsroom/releases/2020/march23/index.cfm

 

Today, the National Institutes of Health will launch a new website with important educational resources for Coronavirus workers dealing with the spread of COVID-19. The initiative got underway after Congress passed a supplemental appropriation of $10 million on March 6 "for worker-based training to prevent and reduce exposure of hospital employees, emergency first responders, and other workers who are at risk of exposure to coronavirus through their work duties." The law provided a total of $8.3 billion in emergency funding for certain Federal agencies to respond to the coronavirus outbreak.

 

The worker-based training initiative is being led by NIH's National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS), which has a long-established Worker Training Program (WTP). The program awards grants for training and development of educational resources for employees in high risk occupations who serve the public during emergencies and who need skills to protect their own health as they are potentially exposed to dangerous pathogens, contaminated materials, or infected people. As a part of this effort the Worker Training Program also acts as a clearinghouse among grant recipients to broadly share the training and educational resources developed with the grant money.

 

Joseph "Chip" Hughes, who has led the NIEHS Worker Training Program for 31 years, said, "These men and women are so dedicated and as they work so hard to serve and protect the public during this COVID-19 pandemic, I want to make sure they know how to protect their own health too. We don't need them getting sick or taking the virus back to their families or their communities."

 

With this new supplemental funding from Congress, the NIEHS Worker Training Program is creating a COVID-19 virtual safety training initiative for frontline responders including emergency medical personnel, firefighters, law enforcement officers, environmental cleanup workers, high-risk custodial service workers, food processing and delivery workers, water and sewage treatment workers, sanitation workers, and health care facility employees.

 

The initial focus is to build a virtual safety training delivery platform in partnership with private sector e-learning companies with the capability to deliver synchronized just-in-time web-based training across the country in targeted high-risk industrial sectors. Additionally, a cadre of COVID-19 safety trainers and virtual safety advisors is being created to leverage the delivery of advanced training technology to frontline responders.

 

After learning of the special appropriation, NIEHS moved quickly to convene a national workshop in partnership with Emory Health Sciences Center on March 17. The workshop titled, "Protecting Infectious Disease Responders During the COVID-19 Outbreak," used virtual meeting technology to bring together hundreds of the country's infectious disease experts, nurses and health care providers, emergency response organizations and academic training centers to map out a web-based, technology-assisted training strategy to respond to the escalating need to ensure protections for COVID-19 responders, particularly in health care and emergency response services.

 

During a recent Congressional hearing on COVID-19 response, NIH Director Francis Collins, M.D., testified that "NIEHS has played a very critical role in training people who can deal with outbreaks."  He noted the NIEHS Worker Training Program previously helped with the Ebola response.

 

NIEHS Worker Training Program grant recipients provided occupational safety training to workers during the anthrax attacks in 2001, the H5N1 outbreak in 2007, and the H1N1 avian influenza outbreak in 2009; mold remediation training following Hurricanes Katrina in 2005 and Hurricane Sandy in 2012; and Ebola virus disease preparedness training 2013-2015. A list of program grantees is available at https://www.niehs.nih.gov/careers/hazmat/awardees/index.cfm.

 

This COVID-19 virtual safety training program will be administered by NIEHS and was developed in collaboration with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health.

Mar 20, 2020

Coronavirus Resources Center from Institute of Hazardous Materials Management

The foremost concern of IHMM and HMS is with the safety and health of all of us; our staff, colleagues, certificants and members and those in our communities. As we have been doing the past three weeks, we continue to share credible, authoritative information for you in meeting the threat posed by the COVID-19 virus.

Today, we are opening the Coronavirus Resources Center, where all of the most significant information for you is gathered in one place.

See More from IHMM
https://www.ihmm.org/about-ihmm/coronavirus-resources

National Toxic Substances Incidents Program — Nine States, 2010–2014

Description of System: In 2010, the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) initiated the National Toxic Substance Incidents Program (NTSIP), and it was retired in 2014. Nine state health departments participated in NTSIP surveillance: California, Louisiana, North Carolina, New York, Missouri, Oregon, Tennessee, Utah, and Wisconsin. The states conducted surveillance on acute toxic substance incidents, defined as an uncontrolled or illegal acute (lasting <72 hours) release of any toxic substance including chemical, biologic, radiologic, and medical materials. Surveillance focused on associated morbidity and mortality and public health actions. This report presents an overview of NTSIP and summarizes incidents and injuries from the nine participating states during 2010–2014.

Results: During 2010–2014, participating state health departments reported 22,342 incidents, of which 13,529 (60.6%) met the case definition for acute toxic substance incidents, and included 6,635 injuries among 5,134 injured persons, of whom 190 died. A trend analysis of the three states participating the entire time showed a decrease in the number of incidents with injuries. NTSIP incidents were 1.8 times more likely and injured persons were 10 times more likely to be associated with fixed facilities than transportation. Natural gas, carbon monoxide, ammonia, and chemicals used in illegal methamphetamine production were the most frequent substances in fixed-facility incidents. Sodium and potassium hydroxide, hydrochloric acid, natural gas, and sulfuric acid were the most frequent substances in transportation-related incidents. Carbon monoxide was the most frequent substance in incidents with a large number of injured persons, and chemicals used in illegal methamphetamine production were the most frequent substance in incidents involving decontamination.

Read on at CDC Source:
https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/69/ss/ss6902a1.htm

Mar 17, 2020

American Chemistry Council Free Workplace Posters for COVID-19 Cleaning Procedures

The American Chemistry Council's outside group of public health advisors, the Water Quality & Health Council, has worked with several other public health partners to develop a user-friendly "pictogram" poster for disinfecting frequently touched surfaces against the COVID-19 virus.

Also includes Pictograms for:

The poster is freely downloadable at https://waterandhealth.org/resources/posters/#COVID-19.

Waiver or Modification of Requirements under Section 1135 of the Social Security Act as the Result of the Consequences of the 2019 Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19)

Waiver or Modification of Requirements under Section 1135 of the Social Security Act as the Result of the Consequences of the 2019 Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19)

What: HHS Secretary Alex M. Azar declared a public health emergency, effective March 15, 2019, at 6:00 p.m. due to the nationwide COVID-19 outbreak.

Where:  Nationwide.

Why:  President Donald J. Trump's declaration that the COVID-19 outbreak in the United States constitutes a national emergency.

Actions/Follow-Up:  

DISCLAIMER: These guidance documents are not a final agency action, do not legally bind persons or entities outside the Federal government, and may be rescinded or modified in the Department's discretion. Noncompliance with any voluntary standards (e.g., recommended practices) contained in these documents will not, in itself, result in any enforcement action.

Mar 16, 2020

OSHA's Temporary Enforcement Guidance - Healthcare Respiratory Protection Annual Fit-Testing for N95 Filtering Facepieces During the COVID-19 Outbreak,

OSHA's Temporary Enforcement Guidance - Healthcare Respiratory Protection Annual Fit-Testing for N95 Filtering Facepieces During the COVID-19 Outbreak, is very important - among other things, OSHA says to perform an initial fit test using a qualitative method, to suspend annual fit-testing requirements during the pandemic, but to perform user seal checks when the respirator is donned.

https://www.osha.gov/memos/2020-03-14/temporary-enforcement-guidance-healthcare-respiratory-protection-annual-fit

Mar 13, 2020

Latest workplace Covid-19 regulatory guidance


Notes below from a WHO webinar 11th March on "EPI-WIN COVID-19 Employers and employees" s (recording and slides will be available at a later date).

 

1st presentation – Guidance for employers

  • Keep workplaces clean and hygienic (surfaces, keyboards etc.)

  • Encourage employees to regularly wash hands with soap and water (correct method, wash for enough time etc.)

  • Provide travel advice to employees

  • Anyone sick should stay at home

  • Hand sanitisers should be available 

  • Masks and paper tissue should be available in case anyone exhibits symptoms (visitors)

  • All objects like mobile phones and desks should be wiped with disinfectant at least one a day

  • Promote teleworking where possible

  • Brief employers, contractors etc.

  • Advise contractors to consult travel advice before going on business trips

  • It is the responsibility of employees to comply with travel guidance 

 

2nd presentation

  • Important to think about precarious workers. And health workers, who are at the frontier

  • Promote teleworking as much as possible. Not all workers can do this, e.g. workers facing the public, in social care/education etc.

  • Need to have income protection for those who are self-isolating or asked to take time off

  • Important to have a coming together of companies

  • If factories are open the one meter distance should be kept between workers, hand sanitizers should be readily available (suggested this should be provided by govt. agencies?)

  • Think about access to canteens

  • Use of personal safety equipment

  • Need to support family and workers who go through this change

  • Slowing productive activities if they're not essential, health has to come first

  • Adequate measures need to be followed

 

3rd presentation

3 areas of focus:

  1. Communication to companies and business associations on how to make workplaces safe and prevent spread

  2. Business impact, value change

  3. Working with govt. to offer preferential policies for businesses

 

A few examples of what employers and organizations are doing:

In the UK CBI is working closely with Govt, and providing advice to members on how to prevent spread, what to do if someone is showing symptoms. CBI has a special webpage with all the relevant info about the virus. Internal policy for events etc.


Singapore – dedicated webpage with guidance based on latest advice from Ministry of Health and Ministry of Manpower. Different federations coming together.  Advice given to frontline employees.


Cambodia – not too many confirmed cases but ILO already has a huge project and presence through a program set up to ensure workplace compliance. ILO has provided guidance to the main garment association. Garment association sent letter to their members with info, i.e. asking people to isolate if they have been to high risk countries, importance of personal hygiene etc.


Employers globally are taking health and safety as high priority and are taking necessary steps and working with federations and ministries.

 

4th presentation:

  • Occupational safety and health. Preventing infection in workplace

  • ILO's target is all workers, not just high-risk (health workers)

  • Most important part is to develop and implement policy

  • Need commitment and support

  • Hoping to produce a guideline asap

 

Other comments/Q&A

  • Informal workers, gig economy, countries with weak health systems and countries with weak protections – they are a concern.

  • Workplaces have a role in stopping the spread. Slowing down the pace.  This protects individuals.  Importance of simple measures like staying home if you're ill, not coughing on other people, social distancing, washing your hands every hour, using hand gel, not touching surfaces that could be infected, not touching your face, coughing in your sleeve.

  • Breathalyzer test – infection prevention control.  Working on developing flexible and appropriate guidance.  Concern about people using same breathalyzer.  Single use items.  If not single use need to be sterilized.  They can be disinfected.  

  • Schools have a responsibility towards staff and students.  Boarding schools, where students come from abroad.  Hosting sports events.  UNICEF guidance for schools is available.  It will also depend on local risk assessment.

  • Can mine workers be considered high risk?  Don't have specific data.  They are working in conditions that may already have affected their respiratory health.  Preexisting conditions could lead to higher vulnerability.

  • Always try to maintain a distance of one meter between yourself and others

 

Mar 2, 2020

U.S. EPA Webinar Strategies to Engage Food and Beverage Manufacturers in Pollution Prevention Technical Assistance

Getting Your "Food" in the Door: Strategies to Engage Food and Beverage Manufacturers in Pollution Prevention Technical Assistance

Date & Time:  March 24, 1:00 – 2:30 PM ET

Details & Free Registration: https://register.gotowebinar.com/register/2616299318147436555


Food and beverage manufacturers have real opportunities to save money and reduce pollution through pollution prevention (P2). But many Pollution Prevention technical assistance providers (TAPs) struggle to effectively engage and recruit companies to accept assistance. This webinar will provide effective strategies and lessons learned to help TAPs market technical assistance to manufacturers and get 'in the door' with companies. It will feature two seasoned P2 assistance programs sharing their experiences, and one food manufacturer providing their perspective on what makes for successful assistance.

Speakers:
-  Bruce Dvorak, University of Nebraska – Partners for Pollution Prevention
-  Derek Boer, CO Department of Public Health and Environment
-  Brian Morgan, Engineering Manager, Kerry Inc.

Feb 27, 2020

Screening for Lung Cancer — annually 148,869 lung cancer-associated deaths

CDC - The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) recommends annual lung cancer screening for adults aged 55–80 years who have a ≥30 pack-year cigarette smoking history and currently smoke or have quit <15 years ago.

What is added by this report?

In 10 states, one in eight persons aged 55–80 years met USPSTF criteria, and, among those meeting USPSTF criteria, only one in eight reported a lung cancer screening exam in the last 12 months.

What are the implications for public health practice?

Public health initiatives to prevent cigarette smoking, increase smoking cessation, and increase recommended lung cancer screening could help reduce lung cancer mortality.

The figure is a visual abstract with text describing that lung cancer screening saves lives and the need for increased screening when recommended.
 
Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death in the United States; 148,869 lung cancer-associated deaths occurred in 2016 (1). Mortality might be reduced by identifying lung cancer at an early stage when treatment can be more effective (2). In 2013, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) recommended annual screening for lung cancer with low-dose computed tomography (CT) for adults aged 55–80 years who have a 30 pack-year* smoking history and currently smoke or have quit within the past 15 years (2). This was a Grade B recommendation, which required health insurance plans to cover lung cancer screening as a preventive service.§ To assess the prevalence of lung cancer screening by state, CDC used Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) data collected in 2017 by 10 states.** Overall, 12.7% adults aged 55–80 years met the USPSTF criteria for lung cancer screening. Among those meeting USPSTF criteria, 12.5% reported they had received a CT scan to check for lung cancer in the last 12 months. Efforts to educate health care providers and provide decision support tools might increase recommended lung cancer screening.


Read on at:

https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/69/wr/mm6908a1.htm?s_cid=mm6908a1_w&deliveryName=USCDC_921-DM20955#suggestedcitation

Be Ready for New Strains on Worker Health

CCOHS- The identification of 2019 Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) in China in late 2019 has highlighted the need for workplaces in Canada to follow good practices to minimize the potential for infection. Coronaviruses are a large family of common viruses that are typically associated with mild illnesses. However, novel strains can develop into serious diseases, including Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS-CoV).

Coronaviruses are common in animals, but in rare cases, the virus can evolve to infect people, then spread from person-to-person. The route of transmission is not always known, but the viruses are generally thought to spread by respiratory droplets when people are in close contact.

People caring for individuals with a coronavirus are at the greatest risk for contracting the disease such as health care workers and others who work close to their clients or patients. However, everyone can adopt good hygiene practices to minimize the potential for infection.

Prevent the spread

Workplaces can promote the adoption of many good hygiene practices that will help prevent the spread of any virus or infection, including the flu. The most important day-to-day action everyone can take is proper and regular hand washing with soap and water. Individuals should use tissues, or cough and sneeze into their arm or elbow (not their hand) while turning away from other people. Dispose of used tissues and wash your hands right away. Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth, especially after you have touched surfaces such as doorknobs and handrails that others have touched. Avoid sharing cups, glasses, dishes and cutlery, and wash your dishes with soap and water immediately after use. If a vaccine is available, encourage everyone to get the shot, or consider setting up a mini clinic for convenience and coverage.

Have a policy in place

Workplaces should have a policy in place that outlines requirements to follow when people may be sick, or when they are absent because they are caring for others. This policy should indicate how the individual will notify the workplace of their situation. Let workers know they can and should stay home if they are not feeling well. Workplaces must plan for these absences as well as for possible increases and decreases in business, and for changes in how they do their business. Provide cross-training for coverage of job duties, and make sure that workers are comfortable performing these added job tasks and responsibilities. Employers should also stay up to date on the latest situation by monitoring public health agency websites and keep everyone informed.

Develop an infection control plan

In addition to having a policy in place, workplaces (non-healthcare) can set up an infection control plan that includes providing clean hand washing facilities, or alcohol-based sanitizers when regular facilities are not available, for example to workers on the road. Objects that are touched frequently, including doorknobs, handles, and railings, should be cleaned more often using regular disinfectants or soap and water.  If a person has been suspected or identified with an infection, employers should clean that person's station, along with other areas where they have been. Ventilation systems should be checked for proper functioning.

Provide boxes of tissue throughout the workplace and encourage its use by displaying good hygiene practice posters. Consider temporarily removing magazines and papers from waiting areas or common rooms. Use social distancing techniques as necessary to minimize contact. Conduct business via telephone or online, allow employees to work from home, and encourage flexible work hours to avoid peak public transportation times and crowding the workplace.

 

Resources

The World Congress on Safety and Health at Work Invites the World Through its Fellowship Program

CCOHS- The XXII World Congress on Safety and Health at Work, taking place October 4-7, 2020 in Toronto, Canada, is offering a fellowship program to help support occupational safety and health professionals from developing countries in attending the global prevention event.

Successful program applicants will receive funding for the costs of travel to the Congress, accommodations, and the Congress registration fee. Partial fellowships may also be granted.

The fellowship application process is open until April 15. For more information, visit the Congress website.

The 2020 World Congress is organized by the International Labour Organization and the International Social Security Association and is co-hosted by CCOHS and the Institute for Work and Health.

Feb 26, 2020

EU Publishes New Classification for Titanium Dioxide Via Inhalation

On Feb. 18, the European Commission published a regulation classifying titanium dioxide (TiO2) containing greater than 1% respirable dust content by inhalation as a Category 2 [Animal] Carcinogen. This action follows the fall decision by CARACAL— the expert group that advises the European Commission and European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) on questions related to REACH and CLP — the EU's chemicals classification and labeling regulations. Notably, the Category 2 cancer hazard classification by respirable dust inhalation has been focused on conveying that specific hazard where respirable dust exposures occur (i.e., exposure to particles less than 10 µm in diameter).

For TiO2 in formulated products — like liquid paints — this distinction mitigates the required hazard warnings somewhat; it does, however, retain them for powder coatings since they may contain more than 1% of respirable dust size particles.

The requirements for labeling in the new regulation will  be enforced  after Sept. 9, 2021.

Despite repeated efforts made by TiO2 manufacturers and end users, as well as by trade groups that represent them, including substantial efforts by ACA and other World Coatings Council members, the EU adopted this regulation that will impose onerous new labeling requirements  for many products containing TiO2, leading to market unease, with implications for product quality, performance and waste management.


Read full from source:

https://www.paint.org/titanium-dioxide-reg/

Stimulating summer class focusing on military as specialized workplace

Are you looking for an outstanding 1 credit summer class that addresses military exposures, veterans health, and service-linked policies?  This course is ideal for you!  It is designed to appeal to students from many disciplines, including those from *outside* of GWU.  We can certainly accommodate students wishing to participate online.

Summer II 2020 - PubH 6199
Veterans, Deployment & Environmental Issues - 1 credit - Dr. David Goldsmith

Note that this class meets on Monday evenings,
6:10pm - 8:40pm, June 29 until Aug 3, 2020

For more information, please email Dr. Goldsmith (dgoldsmi@gwu.edu),

This course examines the current, historical and future policy concerns about military exposures and the risks of illness among deployed troops and military veterans. The class will emphasize troops' exposure during Afghanistan and Iraq conflicts, Vietnam, and the Gulf War.  It will examine the roles of DOD, the Veterans Administration, medical researchers, and the National Academy of Medicine in health protection, exposure monitoring, health and cancer research, and policies regarding service-connected disabilities. Current topics--such as sexual assault, the increase of women vets, and delays in VA disability benefits, burn pits, suicide, and PTSD/traumatic brain injuries--will be included.  Students will write a paper and make a short presentation on a topic of interest. There is *no* exam.

This class will be a difference-maker for anyone seeking a job at the Veterans Administration (VA) or with Tricare, or who seeks a research or policy position that addresses the health of active duty military or veterans.

Examples of current stories that will be covered in the course


Sexual Violence Victims Say Military Justice System Is 'Broken'
http://www.npr.org/2013/03/21/174840895/sexual-violence-victims-say-military-justice-system-is-broken

Privatization of VA health care.

The wars' toll on female Iraq and Afghanistan veterans
http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/post-nation/wp/2014/04/14/the-wars-toll-on-female-iraq-and-afghanistan-veterans/



Feb 11, 2020

Department of Energy Invests $74 Million in Building and Construction Technologies and Innovations

U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced $74 million for 63 selected projects to research, develop, and test energy-efficient and flexible building technologies, systems, and construction practices to improve the energy performance of our Nation's buildings and electric grid. Awardees include National Laboratories, universities, small businesses, and industry partners.

America's 125 million residential and commercial buildings use more energy than any other sector in the United States, accounting for 40% of the Nation's energy use and nearly 75% of its electricity consumption. The research partnerships announced today will pursue new technologies to enhance the energy productivity of buildings and improve the capacity of buildings to operate more flexibly.

"DOE is accelerating its quest to improve the energy productivity and flexibility of America's residential and commercial buildings," said Assistant Secretary of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Daniel R Simmons. "We're renewing our commitment to develop state-of-the-art building technologies that will empower Americans with more options to enhance buildings performance quickly without disruption to their lives." 

Many of the projects announced today will advance technologies to unlock deep energy savings through grid interactive efficient buildings and advanced building construction technologies and practices, without sacrificing the comfort of building occupants or the performance of labor-saving devices and equipment. For example, the grid interactive efficient building projects will make advances in technologies to link buildings to one another across the internet and the power grid, which would enable a greater degree of flexibility over conventional buildings to reschedule operations to periods of the day when energy is cheaper and more efficient to use.

Crucially, those projects are also required to address the cybersecurity of flexible buildings and verify the performance of their equipment. Other projects will focus on developing novel thermal energy storage materials, advancements in non-vapor compression HVAC technologies, fuel-driven building equipment, and solid-state lighting.

Learn more about these projects from the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy HERE and HERE.

Department of Energy Awards $187 Million to Strengthen U.S. Manufacturing Competitiveness

U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced approximately $187 million in funding, including $48 million of cost share, for 55 projects in 25 states to support innovative advanced manufacturing research and development. These projects address high-impact manufacturing technology, materials, and process challenges that advance the Trump Administration's goal to strengthen domestic manufacturing competitiveness and position the U.S. for global leadership in advanced manufacturing.

"The manufacturing sector is on the leading edge of American innovation and plays an integral role in our economy," said U.S. Under Secretary of Energy Mark W. Menezes. "By investing in advanced manufacturing projects that enhance energy productivity, we're supporting the competitiveness of the entire U.S. manufacturing industry."

The DOE Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy's Advanced Manufacturing Office will provide funding for projects in the following three topic areas:

  • Innovations for the Manufacture of Advanced Materials: $124.6 million for 36 projects focused on new, low-cost manufacturing processes to catalyze domestic battery manufacturing, phase-change storage materials for heating and cooling applications, and the development of innovative materials for harsh service conditions.

 

  • Lower Thermal Budget Processes for Industrial Efficiency & Productivity: $28.7 million for 8 projects to conduct novel research on industrial process heating and drying technologies to increase energy efficiency and product quality. These projects are related to process heating which accounts for 70% of all manufacturing process energy use.

 

  • Connected, Flexible and Efficient Manufacturing Facilities and Energy Systems: $33.5 million for 11 projects that support more efficient industrial power conversion equipment, new opportunities for converting process energy to electrical energy while better integrating with the electrical grid, and projects that build upon recent advances in new, wide-bandgap semiconductors supported by DOE. A number of projects will also support advancements in combined heat and power, energy-efficient technologies for simultaneous onsite production of electricity and heat, as well as address technical challenges in district energy systems.

As part of the first topic, the selections include $65.9 million toward lowering the cost of battery energy storage through manufacturing innovation, as part of DOE's Energy Storage Grand Challenge, recently announced by U.S. Secretary of Energy Dan Brouillette. The Grand Challenge will accelerate the development, commercialization, and utilization of next-generation energy storage technologies and sustain American global leadership in energy storage. The battery manufacturing selections were co-funded by EERE's Advanced Manufacturing Office and with support from the Vehicle Technologies Office.

Read more about the individual projects HERE.

Coronavirus Rare Incubation of 24 Days Means quarantines need to be 6 weeks long instead of 3 weeks.

Feb 6, 2020

EPA Hires Wisconsin Environmental Rockstar as Administrator for EPA's Region 5!

(FET) EPA Names new Administrator for Region 5 Kurt Thiede of Wisconsin has been named regional administrator for EPA Region 5, overseeing environmental protection efforts in Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois, Michigan, Indiana, and Ohio.
He comes to this role with extensive experience promoting and protecting the environmental health of the Great Lakes region.
He is an 18year veteran of WDNR, and previously spent four years as the administrator for the Land Division. 
He has a Bachelor of Science degree in wildlife management and biology from the University of Wisconsin Stevens Point, and in 2016 he received an outstanding alumnus award from their school of natural resources.

Read more about Mr. Thiede at EPA:

Feb 4, 2020

Energy Department Announces $18.8 Million for Hydrothermal and Low Temperature Geothermal Research

(DOE) the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced up to $18.8 million toward the research and development (R&D) of innovative subsurface geothermal technologies. DOE's Geothermal Technologies Office (GTO) will fund up to six projects focused on two topic areas:
  • Topic 1: Exploration RD&D: Hidden Geothermal Systems in the Basin and Range; and
  • Topic 2: Advanced Energy Storage Initiative (AESI): Bi-directional Energy Storage Using Low-Temperature Geothermal Applications.

This multi-topic funding opportunity aims to drive down costs and risks associated with the discovery of hidden geothermal systems in the Basin & Range region of the western U.S., and to enhance energy system resilience through utilization of Reservoir Thermal Energy Storage (RTES), Deep Direct-Use (DDU), and other geothermal direct use applications. These applications can be deployed at military installations, hospital complexes, and other large energy end-uses across the U.S., such as university campuses.


Read full at DOE