Mar 21, 2019

EPA Identifies 40 Chemicals to Prioritize for Risk Evaluation

WASHINGTON  — Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is publishing a list of 40 chemicals to begin the prioritization process – the initial step in a new process of reviewing chemicals currently in commerce under the amended Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA).

"EPA continues to demonstrate its commitment to the successful and timely implementation of the Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act," said EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler. "We are delivering on the promise of Lautenberg to better assess and manage existing chemicals in commerce and provide greater certainty and transparency to the American public."

"Initiating a chemical for high or low prioritization does not mean EPA has determined it poses unreasonable risk or no risk to human health or the environment; it means we are beginning the prioritization process set forth in Lautenberg," said Alexandra Dapolito Dunn, Assistant Administrator for EPA's Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention.

The Agency is releasing this list in order to provide the public an opportunity to submit relevant information such as the uses, hazards, and exposure for these chemicals. A docket has been opened for each of the 40 chemicals. The publication of this list in the Federal Register initiates a 90-day public comment period. Publication also activates a statutory requirement for EPA to complete the prioritization process in the next nine to 12 months, allowing EPA to designate 20 chemicals as high priority and 20 chemicals as low priority by December 2019.

TSCA requires EPA to publish this list of 40 chemicals to begin the prioritization process to designate 20 chemicals as "high-priority" for subsequent risk evaluation and to designate 20 chemicals as "low-priority," meaning that risk evaluation is not warranted at this time.

One of the chemicals identified for high-priority evaluation is formaldehyde, a chemical that has been studied by EPA's Integrated Risk Information System (IRIS) program for many years.

"Moving forward evaluating formaldehyde under the TSCA program does not mean that the formaldehyde work done under IRIS will be lost," added Dunn. "In fact, the work done for IRIS will inform the TSCA process. By using our TSCA authority EPA will be able to take regulatory steps; IRIS does not have this authority," she noted.

When prioritization is complete, chemicals designated as high priority will begin a 3-year risk evaluation process to determine if the chemical, under the conditions of use, presents an unreasonable risk to human health and the environment. The designation of a chemical as a low priority means that further risk evaluation is not warranted at this time.

The 20 high priority candidate chemicals include seven chlorinated solvents, six phthalates, four flame retardants, formaldehyde, a fragrance additive, and a polymer pre-curser. EPA has received a manufacturer request for a risk evaluation of two additional phthalates and is currently determining whether the request contains the minimum needed elements to proceed under EPA's regulations. If complete, EPA has 15 days to provide notice of such a request.

The 20 low priority candidate chemicals have been selected from EPA's Safer Chemicals Ingredients List, which includes chemicals that have been evaluated and determined to meet EPA's safer choice criteria.

Mar 18, 2019

Preventing Illness from Silica Dust

Workers in construction and manufacturing jobs are often exposed to respirable crystalline silica, which is released when cutting or drilling into stone and concrete. Breathing silica dust is dangerous and can lead to serious and often fatal illnesses.

There are steps employers must take to protect workers by reducing exposure to dust. These steps include using controls like wet methods and ventilation. Respirators can be used, but only if other methods are not protective enough.

The following resources provide guidance for how employers can protect workers from hazardous exposures to silica dust.


Photo: Wet methods and ventilation can reduce dust exposures.
Image courtesy National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH)

Resources

Silica Safety Resources for Stone Fabricators – CDPH web page

Respirable Crystalline Silica Standards – Cal/OSHA web page

Work Safely with Silica – CPWR website

Silica topic page – NIOSH


Mar 6, 2019

Attorneys Implore Judge to Keep Sailors’ Fukushima Case in U.S.

SAN DIEGO (CN) – Former Senator John Edwards and his co-counsel implored a federal judge Wednesday not to dismiss claims from U.S. service members who say they were exposed to radiation while aboard U.S. ships sent to render aid after the 2011 earthquake and tsunami in Fukushima, Japan.

"We have 500 sailors who are badly hurt and some of them are dead. We have not been able to ask them a single question under oath … at the end of the day these folks just want their day in court," Edwards told U.S. District Judge Janis Sammartino.

But Sammartino said at the beginning of the nearly three-hour court hearing she was inclined to dimiss the claims against Tokyo Electric Power Co. – or TEPCO – and General Electric for lack of personal jurisdiction.

U.S. sailors filed a class action in the Southern District of California in 2012 claiming radiation they were exposed to following the meltdown of a nuclear power plant in Fukushima, Japan while aboard U.S. vessels on a humanitarian mission has caused cancer, brain tumors, birth defects in their children and other rare health problems. Some have even died, according to their attorneys.

If U.S. courts dismiss the two related cases – Cooper et al. v. TEPCO et al. and Bartel et al. v. Tokyo Electric Power Company Inc. et al. – the sailors could bring their claims in Japan under its Compensation for Nuclear Damage Act.

Sammartino did clarify throughout the hearing that she would not waste her or the attorneys' time by holding a court hearing if she wasn't going to consider their arguments.

Class attorney Charles Bonner of Sausalito, California implored the judge not to dismiss the litigation, noting that attorneys have not been able to conduct discovery in the case, and that the defendants' motions to dismiss were "based on legal arguments," not facts.

Bonner suggested class counsel needed to obtain contracts between GE, which designed and helped to maintain the nuclear reactors for 40 years in Fukushima, and TEPCO, which operated the plant. Bonner said the contracts likely contain a choice-of-law provision that would indicate whether the parties would agree to litigate in the U.S. or Japan.

"Our sailors have already been here five years. They need some resolution in this court," Bonner said.

TEPCO attorney Gregory Stone of Munger Tolles  & Olson in Los Angeles said the case has seen new developments in the few years since Sammartino found it should not be dismissed – a decision affirmed by the Ninth Circuit.

Those new developments include three times as many cases filed in Japan over the nuclear meltdown, which Stone said "demonstrates the Japanese interest in resolving these claims."

TEPCO has paid 8.163 trillion yen, or $76 billion – one percent of Japan's total GDP – to resolve claims stemming from the disaster, "a huge amount of money for a government to designate to one incident," Stone said.

Read full at Source:

NEW Anthropologist-led FEMA Report on national preparedness

The publication of a new 38-page FEMA Report, Building Cultures of Preparedness, an initiative funded by FEMA Higher Education to present research related to FEMA's new Strategic Plan for 2018-2022, "Building a Culture of Preparedness."

The report is the first FEMA work to be authored by environmental and cultural anthropologists, joined by practitioners and academic colleagues. The majority of authors are members of the Culture and Disaster Action Network (CADAN) organized to bring local and cultural knowledge into disaster policy and practice.


Preparedness strategies to date have increased first responder and government capabilities, but individual and community progress towards enhanced levels of preparedness has been limited. Authors of the new report suggest that achieving the 2018–2022 Strategic Plan's vision of enhanced preparedness requires a bottom-up approach to close these gaps.

Highlighting the vast diversity of American communities and households, the report demonstrates that a one-size-fits-all strategy is not well-suited to the demands of variable and distinctive environments – a national Culture of Preparedness will have to be built one community at a time. Preparedness is a local matter, requiring solutions tailored to different cultural contexts and embraced by communities. Achieving the reality of a resilient nation as envisioned in the Strategic Plan requires us to think in the plural, building "Culture(s) of Preparedness."

The report lays out four Guiding Principles for building Cultures of Preparedness followed by practical strategies and examples as well as successful outcomes in real-world settings.

The report's authors include:
Katherine E. Browne, (lead author) Colorado State University / CADAN
Laura Olson, (lead author) Georgetown University, Emergency & Disaster Management Program / CADAN
Jenny Hegland, Jenny Hegland Consulting
Ana-Marie Jones, Interpro Inc. 
Julie Maldonado, Livelihoods Knowledge Exchange Network (LiKEN) / CADAN
Elizabeth Marino, Oregon State University / CADAN Keely Maxwell, Environmental Protection Agency / CADAN
Eric Stern, University of Albany-SUNY, College of Emergency Preparedness, Homeland Security, and Cyber-Security
Wendy Walsh, FEMA Emergency Management Higher Education Program
 

Thank you for sharing with others who might find this interesting or useful.

Feb 27, 2019

New HHS-sponsored research provides new tool and updated guidance on mass chemical decontamination

More than a million first responders and emergency managers in the United States now have ascience-based chemical decontamination decision tool and updated guidance on how best to decontaminate a massive number of people after chemical exposure.

The decision-support tool and guidance, as well as the scientific studies on which they are based, were completed under a contract between the University of Hertfordshire in the United Kingdom and the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA), part of the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (ASPR) within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

This second edition of the guidance, called Primary Response Incident Scene Management or PRISM, incorporates new scientific evidence on emergency self-decontamination, hair decontamination, the interactions of chemicals with hair, and the effects of a combined decontamination strategy referred to as the "triple protocol".

PRISM introduces the 'triple protocol' comprised of disrobing and conducting dry decontamination, wet decontamination using the ladder pipe system with high volume/low pressure water deluges from fire trucks, and technical (or specialist) decontamination. The clinical research showed that, taken together, the three steps of the triple protocol remove 99.9 percent of chemical contamination.

The latest clinical evidence indicates that the triple protocol approach to decontamination is faster and more effective than traditional methods for treating chemically contaminated patients. The research also demonstrated that immediate "dry" decontamination using any available absorbent material can be highly effective as a stand-alone procedure when performed under the instruction of first responders, removing up to 99 percent of contamination.

The guidance suggests that emergency plans should address how the community will take specific preparedness actions. One important action would be to make enough absorbent materials available on emergency response vehicles so that emergency dry decontamination can begin as quickly as possible. Plans also should include how the community will provide washcloths and towels for use in wet decontamination, and blankets or temporary clothes to protect patients from hypothermia afterwards. Hypothermia would be of particular concern in the winter in colder areas.

To further aid first responders and emergency managers, experts from BARDA, ASPR and the National Library of Medicine (NLM) at the National Institutes of Health collaborated with the University of Hertfordshire researchers to devise a decision-support tool called ASPIRE or the Algorithm Suggesting Proportionate Incident Response Engagement. The tool helps responders determine which decontamination approaches will work best in a given situation.

ASPIRE and the guidance are integrated into the Chemical Hazards Emergency Medical Management (CHEMM) web-based resource created by ASPR and NLM as part of a suite of preparedness and emergency response tools that includes the CHEMM Intelligent Syndromes Tool (CHEMM-IST), Dermal Exposure Risk Management and Logic for Emergency Preparedness and Response (DERMaL eToolkit), and now ASPIRE. The guidance and ASPIRE also are incorporated into the latest edition of the WISER CHEMM mobile app, which is expected to be available in the coming days.

The PRISM guidance splits its information into three online volumes. The first volume explains the technical and scientific evidence, identifies capability gaps, and describes the corresponding rationale which underpins the revised incident response process. The second volume focuses on the practical aspects of the incident response with an accompanying rationale but no supporting technical information. This volume is intended for use in developing training and exercises. The third volume summarizes only practical and critical elements of the response process.  This volume is intended to be a quick resource for use during an incident response.

The guidance can be found at www.medicalcountermeasures.gov.

EPA Releases First Major Update to Chemicals List in 40 Years

PAINT.ORG On Feb. 19, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued an update of the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) Inventory listing the chemicals that are actively being manufactured, processed and imported in the United States. A key result of the update is that less than half of the total number of chemicals on the current TSCA Inventory – 47 percent or 40,655 of the 86,228 chemicals – are currently active in commerce. It will be illegal for companies to manufacture, import or mix chemicals not designated as "active in commerce." EPA's TSCA Inventory Reset rule established the process by which substances on the TSCA Inventory are designated as "active" or "inactive." Now that the TSCA Inventory has been "reset," no one is permitted to manufacture or process an inactive chemical substance without first submitting a notification to EPA.

The final inventory will be in effect on May 20, 2019. As of the effective date, companies must submit a Form B notification prior to manufacturing or processing a chemical with an inactive designation.  In the interim period, EPA will accept any corrections to the inventory also on a Form B submission.  EPA has not provided information about enforcement after the 90-day phase in period.

 As recently as 2018, the TSCA Inventory showed over 86,000 chemicals available for commercial production and use in the United States. Until this update, it was not known which of these chemicals on the TSCA Inventory were in commerce. Under amended TSCA – The Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21 Century Act – EPA was required to update the list and designate which chemicals are active or inactive in U.S. commerce.

More than 80 percent (32,898) of the chemicals in commerce have identities that are not Confidential Business Information (CBI), increasing public access to additional information about them. For the less than 20 percent of the chemicals in commerce that have confidential identities, EPA is developing a rule outlining how the Agency will review and substantiate all CBI claims seeking to protect the specific chemical identities of substances on the confidential portion of the TSCA Inventory.

From August 11, 2017 through October 5, 2018, chemical manufacturers and processors provided information on which chemicals were manufactured, imported or processed in the United States over the past 10 years, the period ending June 21, 2016. The agency received more than 90,000 responses, which represents a significant reporting effort by manufacturers, importers and processors.

Next Batch of High Priority Chemicals

EPA is expected to publish its next list of 20 high priority candidate chemicals by March 22, 2019. EPA must decide at least 10 of these from the remaining TSCA workplan chemicals, although it will probably select more than 10, if not all 20, from the TSCA workplan. EPA will select chemicals like the first 10, such as solvents or pigments. Several workplan chemicals are relevant to paints, coatings, sealants and adhesives, as noted in the following table.

TSCA-list

ACA will remain engaged with EPA as it considers chemicals from its TSCA workplan.

Source: PAINT.ORG

Feb 12, 2019

OSHA Signs Charter for Working Group to Improve Chemical Facility Security and Safety

The Department of Labor, Department of Homeland Security, and the Environmental Protection Agency recently created and signed the Chemical Facility Security and Safety Working Group Charter. The working group, which includes other federal agency representatives, was established by an Executive Order in response to several chemical facility catastrophes. The charter reaffirms the group's commitment to work with stakeholders to address safety and security at chemical facilities, and reduce risks associated with hazardous chemicals to workers and communities. For more information, visit OSHA's Chemical Facility and Security webpage.  

New FAQs Available on Controlling Silica in General Industry

OSHA posted new frequently asked questions (FAQs) on the standard for respirable crystalline silica in general industry. OSHA developed the FAQs in consultation with industry and union stakeholders to provide guidance to employers and workers on the standard's requirements, including exposure assessments, regulated areas, methods of compliance, and communicating silica hazards to workers. Visit OSHA's silica standard for general industry webpage for more information and additional compliance assistance resources.  

OSHA Issues Final Rule to Protect Privacy of Workers

OSHA has issued a final rule that eliminates the requirement for establishments with 250 or more employees to submit information electronically from OSHA forms 300 and 301 to OSHA each year. These establishments are still required to submit information electronically from OSHA Form 300A. The final rule helps avoid the risk of publicly disclosing sensitive employee information. The rule does not alter an employer's duty to maintain the OSHA forms and employee records. The deadline for electronic submissions of 2018 data from the OSHA Form 300A is March 2, 2019. For more information, read the news release.  

Jan 16, 2019

House Passes 2-year Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Standards (CFATS) Reauthorization Bill, Senate to take up Bill

(paint.org) On Jan. 8, a bill to reauthorize for two years the Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Standards (CFATS) program, administered by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), passed the U.S. House of Representatives by a 414-3 vote. H.R. 251.  Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Standards Program Extension Act, will now be taken up by the Senate, where the legislation is on the chamber's legislative calendar as the CFATS authorization sunset date of Jan. 19, 2019 speedily approaches.

ACA supports reauthorization, recently urging Congress to act swiftly to provide for a multi-year extension. CFATS is an important program aimed at preventing chemicals from being stolen, diverted, sabotaged, or deliberately released by terrorists or other bad actors. DHS CFATS regulations were issued as a final rule in November 2007; however, DHS implements the CFATS program under a variety of short-term authorizations by Congress.

Under CFATS, chemical facilities possessing more than a threshold amount of specific explosive, toxic, or other "chemicals of interest" determined by DHS, are required to complete a "top-screen," notifying DHS that they possess such chemicals on site. Once a facility submits its top-screen, DHS can direct the facility to submit a Security Vulnerability Assessment (SVA). The SVA provides the basis for DHS to assign the facility to one of four tiers: Tiers 1 and 2 being the highest risk, and Tiers 3 and 4 being the lowest. Tier assignment triggers a requirement to submit a Site Security Plan (SSP) or an Alternative Security Plan (ASP) to DHS for authorization and approval.

CFATS currently covers approximately 3,400 chemical facilities, which have been assessed to present a risk of terrorist attack or exploitation.

Jan 2, 2019

OSHA Proposes Revised Beryllium Standard for General Industry

OSHA issued a proposed rule on Dec. 10 to revise the beryllium standard for general industry. The proposed changes are designed to clarify the safety standard and improve compliance. The proposed rule would amend selected paragraphs of the standard, and also replace Appendix A, Operations for Establishing Beryllium Work Areas. Comments on the proposed rule must be submitted by Feb. 9, 2019. For more information, read the news release.  

751 viewsDec 20, 2018, 01:54pm 'Groundhog Day' Work Fatalities: How They Died In 2017 Tells Us How To Survive In 2019

(Forbes)The "employee experience," as we're currently branding it, covers a lot of ground. Individualization, compensation, work/life balance, company mission, leadership transparency, recognition, teamwork, accomplishment - all these are essential components of the unwritten social contract employers have with their workers.

But there's one aspect that outranks them all: safety. When life or limb are lost, nothing else in the employee experience matters. A company has no responsibility more important than the protection of people's lives.

Once each year, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics releases a report on worker safety as essential as it is troubling. The Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries aggregates all the on-the-job deaths in the country. The report with data from 2017 was released on Tuesday.

The latest census is remarkably consistent with the previous reports. People continue to die in numbers, proportions and circumstances much as they did the year before, and the year before that and the year before that. There are a lot of Groundhog Days in how we're getting killed on the job.

The one potential silver lining in the fatality census is that, because of the consistency year to year, the most recent report is both 2017 post-mortem and 2019 pre-mortem. If you want to know how you or your employees will die next year, and prevent those tragedies, spend some time understanding how employees died last year.


Vehicles and heights remain among the most common hazards for fatal workplace accidents.DATA SOURCE: U.S. BUREAU OF LABOR STATISTICS

The same hazards keep killing workers. What's most likely to kill someone is not a trick question. It's an open-book exam. Vehicles (on and off the road), heights (falling from them or being stuck by something falling from above), electricity and getting caught in machinery killed a high percentage of workers in 2017 just as they killed high percentages in previous years. Known hazards killing workers in predictable ways is a textbook definition of complacency. 

Deaths and the fatality rate both declined, but not encouragingly so. The number of people who died on the job dropped from 5,190 to 5,147, less than a 1% decrease, but easing a general upward trend since 2009. The rate dropped from 3.6 per 100,000 "full-time equivalent workers" to 3.5. (One person working full-time or two people working a half schedule equal one FTE.) The decline is equally slight when homicides, suicides and overdoses are subtracted, from 4,182 in 2016 to 4,142 in 2017. The decline was too modest and the repeating pattern of fatalities is too persistent. We're failing to crack the code on preventing these preventable deaths. 

Fishing, logging, piloting and roofing remain among the most dangerous occupations, according to the 2017 BLS fatality census.DATA SOURCE: U.S. BUREAU OF LABOR STATISTICS

Each profession presents a different risk profile, but those, too, are largely predictable from one year to another.  Commercial fishing eclipsed logging in 2017 as the most dangerous profession. The 2014, 2015 and 2016 reports showed logging as the civilian occupation with the highest rate of fatal accidents. But logging deaths dropped from 135.9 per 100,000 in 2016 to 84.3 per 1000,000 in 2017. Fishing saw the fatality rate jump from 86 to 99.8 per 100,000 during the same period. It's too early to say whether either was a fluke.

Read on at: (Forbes)

https://www.forbes.com/sites/roddwagner/2018/12/20/groundhog-day-work-fatalities-how-they-died-in-2017-tells-us-how-to-survive-in-2019/

Dec 19, 2018

Federal Action Plan to Reduce Childhood Lead Exposure

The Federal Action Plan to Reduce Childhood Lead Exposure (Action Plan) is a blueprint for reducing lead exposure and associated harms through collaboration among federal agencies and with a range of stakeholders, including states, tribes and local communities, along with businesses, property owners and parents. The Action Plan will help federal agencies work strategically and collaboratively to reduce exposure to lead with the aim of ultimately improving children's health.

The Action Plan is the product of the President's Task Force on Environmental Health Risks and Safety Risks to Children (Task Force). The Task Force is the focal point for federal collaboration to promote and protect children's environmental health. Established in 1997 by Executive Order 13045, the Task Force comprises 17 federal departments and offices. The Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) co-chair the Task Force. The Senior Staff Steering Committee (Steering Committee) is its operational arm.

The Action Plan has four goals with key priorities and objectives that seek to reduce harm to children from exposure to lead. By identifying specific goals and actions, federal agencies can prioritize their efforts and monitor progress. The four goals are:
  • Goal 1: Reduce children's exposure to lead sources
  • Goal 2: Identify lead-exposed children and improve their health outcomes
  • Goal 3: Communicate more effectively with stakeholders
  • Goal 4: Support and conduct critical research to inform efforts to reduce lead exposures and related health risks
More information, including a link to the Action Plan, can be found at https://www.epa.gov/lead/federal-action-plan-reduce-childhood-lead-exposure

 

Dec 1, 2018

Podcasts: Carbon Monoxide: Odorless, Colourless, and Deadly

This month's  Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safet podcasts include Carbon Monoxide: Odorless, Colourless, and Deadly and an enore presentation of Slips, Trips, and Falls: Preventing Workplace Injuries.

Feature Podcast: Carbon Monoxide: Odorless, Colourless, and Deadly

Every year in Canada, hundreds of workers experience carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning. Many survive, but others are not so fortunate. During the winter months, this odourless, colourless, deadly gas creeps back into the spotlight. The heightened concern is due in part to the increased use of furnaces, space heaters and generators, as we try to escape the cold, but also because of the use of fuel burning tools indoors. Understand the hazards of carbon monoxide and how to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning. 

The podcast runs 7:00 minutes.  Listen to the podcast now.

Nov 30, 2018

CDC Warns of Exotic Tick Spreading Across the U.S.

The Centers for Disease Control announced Thursday that the Asian longhorned tick—a species that mysteriously traveled thousands of miles across the globe before it was discovered in the fur of a New Jersey sheep in 2017—has now spread to nine states on the eastern half of the country. As The Daily Beast previously reported, scientists aren't yet sure if the tick is capable of transmitting Lyme disease—but they do know that it transmits severe fever with thrombocytopenia syndrome, a phlebovirus that kills 15 percent of the humans it infects. The CDC notes in its press release that no infections of any kind that can be linked to the tick have yet been found in Americans. The ticks were found in New Jersey (16 ticks), Virginia (15), West Virginia (11), New York (3), North Carolina (3), Pennsylvania (2), Connecticut (1), and Maryland (1), and Arkansas (1), between August 2017 and September 2018.

CDC full article:



The biology and ecology of H. longicornis as an exotic species in the United States should be characterized in terms of its vector competence (ability to transmit a pathogen) and vectorial capacity (feeding habits, host preference, climatic sensitivity, population density, and other factors that can affect the risk for pathogen transmission to humans) for tickborne pathogens known to be present in the United States (5). Surveillance for H. longicornis should include adequate sampling of companion animals, commercial animals, wildlife, and the environment. Where H. longicornis is detected, there should be testing for a range of indigenous and exotic viral, bacterial, and protozoan tickborne pathogens potentially transmitted by H. longicornis. Given the similarity between SFTSV and Heartland virus, a tickborne phlebovirus (https://www.cdc.gov/heartland-virus/index.html)

Nov 29, 2018

Make sure your home is fire safe for the holidays — safety tips from ReadyWisconsin

ReadyWisconsin — As families decorate their homes for the holiday season, 
keep fire safety in mind.

"Decorations can help to brighten up the holidays for many people, but it's important to make sure they are installed correctly so they don't become a hazard to your safety or your home," urged Wisconsin Emergency Management Administrator Brian Satula.

With both live and artificial Christmas trees, it's important to take extra safety precautions when placing them inside your home. It only takes a few seconds for a tree to ignite into a large blaze. Never place a live tree close to a heat source, such as a fireplace or heat vent. The heat will dry out the tree, causing it to be more easily ignited by heat, flame or sparks. Be sure to water your live Christmas tree every day.

According to the U.S. Fire Administration, electrical problems cause one out of every four Christmas tree fires. Make sure you inspect holiday lights each year and replace string lights that have worn or broken cords or loose bulb connections. Follow manufacturer's instructions for limits on the number of light strands that can be connected. Remember some lights are only for indoor or outdoor use, but not both.

When it comes to holiday lights, it's not uncommon to find a shortage of outlets to plug everything in. While it may be tempting, avoid overloading electrical outlets. Do not link more than three light strands unless the di­rections indicate it is safe. Make sure to periodically check the light strands while those decorations are in use. If they are warm to the touch, unplug and remove them. Be sure to turn off all lights on trees and other decorations when going to bed or leaving the house. Unplug extension cords when they are not in use.

Most home fires caused by candles occur on Christmas Eve, Christmas, and News Year's Day. Never leave a burning candle unattended, and make sure they are kept at least 12 inches away from things that can burn. Instead of light­ing real candles, consider using battery-operated flameless candles - that way you won't need to worry about forgetting to blow them out, or the candle being accidently knocked over by pets or children.

To help alert you to fire danger, make sure you have working smoke alarms installed on every level of your home. Test them monthly. Keep them clean and equipped with fresh batteries. Know when and how to call for help and remember to practice your home escape plan.

For additional holiday safety tips, visit http://readywisconsin.wi.gov

Nov 28, 2018

Adult Smoking Hits a New Low in Wisconsin

Work still needed to reduce tobacco use among some groups
New data show that statewide efforts to reduce smoking rates are paying off, with the state's smoking rate falling to 16% in 2017 after several years at 17%, according to the Department of Health Services' Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System survey (BRFSS). One of the biggest reductions is among those aged 35-44, down to 19% in 2017 from 24% in 2016. There are also signs that smoking rates may be starting to fall for some groups that have higher rates, including African Americans and people who are on Medicaid.

"The hard work by community organizations, health educators, families and young people to provide information about the dangers of smoking, and programs available to help people quit, is making a difference, said State Health Officer Karen McKeown. "We are grateful to all Wisconsin citizens who are helping to reduce tobacco use statewide."

View the entire news release.

Nov 26, 2018

New Map Shows Why Some People Flee Their Native Countries

A new map by the University of Cincinnati illustrates one motivating force behind migrant caravans leaving Guatemala and Honduras to reach the United States.

UC geography professor Tomasz Stepinski created the new world map showing dramatic changes in land use over the last quarter century. Stepinski, a professor in UC's McMicken College of Arts and Sciences, turned high-resolution satellite images from the European Space Agency into one of the most detailed looks so far at how people are reshaping the planet.

"Right now there are caravans of people walking to the United States. Many of them are coming from Guatemala," Stepinski said.

News agencies such as The Guardian have called some of the Central American migrants "climate-change refugees" since many are fleeing successive years of crop failure. But Stepinski said climate change tells only part of the story. His map shows how Guatemala has seen widespread deforestation.

"And they've lost the forest because people use wood for fuel," Stepinski said. "It's one part of the refugee crisis."

The project was published in the International Journal of Applied Earth Observation and Geoinformation.

Stepinski's work in UC's Space Informatics Lab demonstrates the value that UC places on research as part of its strategic direction, Next Lives Here.

A portion of UC geography professor Tomasz Stepinski's new world map shows changing landscapes in North and South America. White indicates little or no change. Darker shades indicate the highest rate of change in each category.


 Graphic/Tomasz Stepinski/UC


The map illustrates how 22 percent of the Earth's habitable surface has been altered in measurable ways, primarily from forest to agriculture, between 1992 and 2015.

"It's very informative. There is nothing else like it," Stepinski said. "There are maps of forest loss but no maps showing everything."

The map tells a new story everywhere you look, from wetlands losses in the American Southeast to the devastation of the Aral Sea to deforestation in the tropics and temperate rainforests.

"Of course, it raises alarm bells. But they're not new ones," Stepinski said.

Read full at:

Effects of suspected radiation exposure seen in Fukushima wild monkeys: researchers

Findings of abnormalities in these monkeys have been continuously reported in British scientific journals. Researchers assume that the monkeys ingested items like tree bark contaminated with radioactive cesium emanating from the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station.

Tohoku University's Department of Pathology professor emeritus Manabu Fukumoto and his research team performed hematological analysis of adult monkeys captured after the nuclear disaster. They inspected blood cell counts in the bone marrow of 18 monkeys caught in locations within 40 kilometers from the plant, including the city of Minamisoma and the town of Namie. Fukumoto's team then compared the data to that of monkeys from other areas. The results revealed various substances destined to mature into blood, like cells that develop into platelets, had decreased in Fukushima monkeys.

Furthermore, the team observed some blood components had greatly decreased in monkeys with higher internal radiation exposure per day. They estimated the radiation dose from the concentration of radioactive cesium in the monkeys' muscles. Fukumoto explained, "We need to conduct long-term research to see if it (the abnormalities) has an effect on the monkeys' health."


Read on at:

https://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20181125/p2a/00m/0na/003000c

Nov 20, 2018

Severe working conditions in Bolivian mines, Including Children

The severe working conditions, especially for children who labor underground. The mines extract gold, silver, tin and zinc.

These working conditions, especially for children, must be changed.

....about 250,000 to document the daily lives of miners. They're part of a centuries-old enterprise to extract silver, tin, zinc and gold from the mountains. He was struck by the harsh and sometimes dangerous conditions the miners work in — and by the number of children he saw working in the mines. Some were teenagers. One youngster said he was 11 years old...

Nov 19, 2018

EPA Watchdog Questions Safety of Sewage Used as Fertilizer

(Bloomberg) -- The Environmental Protection Agency doesn't know if the treated sewage sludge that farmers use as fertilizer is safe, according to a report from its internal watchdog.

The treated sewage known as biosolids is chock full of nutrients, which is what makes it so good at enriching soil. But it also can be chock full of pollutants, from heavy metals such as mercury and arsenic to pharmaceutical compounds, flame retardants and disease-carrying organisms.

And the EPA doesn't know enough about hundreds of pollutants found in the material, the agency's inspector general said in a report Thursday.

The EPA's controls over using biosolids as fertilizer are "incomplete" or have "weaknesses" and "may not have fully protected human health and the environment," said Jill Trynosky, a project manager with the inspector general's office. "The EPA is unable to state whether, and at what level, the pollutants found in biosolids pose a risk to human health or the environment," Trynosky said in an agency podcast describing the investigation.

The biosolids at issue are a byproduct of wastewater treatment -- essentially the residue that is left over after wastewater is cleaned at facilities nationwide. That sewage sludge can be sent to incinerators or landfills -- or it can go through additional treatment to remove pollutants and to make it less attractive to vermin, effectively transforming it into biosolids that can be applied to farmland as fertilizer.

Nearly half of the biosolids generated in the U.S. ultimately are applied to the land, according to the EPA.

The agency oversees the practice, with requirements to test for nine specific heavy metals, including arsenic and mercury, research additional pollutants that may need regulation and pare pathogens from the material.

Although the EPA has consistently monitored biosolids for those nine regulated substances, the agency lacks the data or tools needed to determine the safety of hundreds of other pollutants found in the material, the inspector general found. And while the EPA is reviewing additional pollutants, the agency hasn't always completed those assessments in a timely manner, the watchdog said.

According to the probe, the risks of at least 352 pollutants found in biosolids haven't been fully assessed by the EPA. And at least 61 of them have already been deemed hazardous by another federal agency or program.

Nov 5, 2018

Changing World of Work at Forum 2019

The world of work is experiencing rapid, constant change, bringing with it new and emerging health and safety challenges. Join us for two days of inspiration, innovations and discussion featuring an exciting roster of world-class speakers at CCOHS' Forum on The Changing World of Work on March 5-6, 2019, in Winnipeg, Manitoba.

 

Don't miss out on this unique opportunity to learn from and engage with leaders, influencers and change makers - representing government, labour, and workplaces - from across Canada. There is no other health and safety event like this in the country.

 

The Speaker Line-Up Includes:

- Keynote: Futurist Nikolas Badminton on artificial intelligence and how the world of work will change

- Darby Allen, Fort McMurray's Fire Chief (Ret.), on leadership

- Nora Spinks, CEO, the Vanier Institute of the Family, on the availability and effectiveness of workplace supports for Canadian caregivers

- Dr. Lionel Laroche on navigating workplace diversity

- Brenda Henry, Manager, EHS Services, Fanshawe College of Applied Arts and Technology, on the ISO 45001 Occupational Health and Safety Management Systems standard

- Steve Tizzard on building a mentally healthy, peer to peer support program on the Hibernia Platform

- Wolfgang Zimmermann, Executive Director, National Institute of Disability Management and Research, on accommodating and inclusive workplaces

- Todd Irick, Occupational Hygienist, Occupational Health Clinics for Ontario Workers, on nanotechnology and health

                                                       

Register by November 30 to save $100. Discounts are also available for CCOHS Members and full-time students.

 

To learn more and register, visit: https://www.ccohs.ca/forum/


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SOURCE:  HS-Canada Digest #5490 - 11/03/18

Nov 2, 2018

Podcasts: Scent Sensitivities in the Workplace by CCOHS

Feature Podcast: Scent Sensitivities in the Workplace

Help your co-workers to breathe easy by maintaining a fragrance-free workplace. This podcast discusses the issues of scents sensitivities in the workplace and provides information on how fragrances can impact the health of your co-workers.

The podcast runs 4:13 minutes.  Listen to the podcast now.


Encore Podcast: Recognizing Radon

Radon is a colourless, odourless, tasteless gas released when uranium, found naturally in rocks and soil, decays. It is also classified as a known carcinogen and a leading cause of lung cancer among non-smokers. In Canada, radon can be found in new and older homes, public buildings and underground worksites. In this podcast, Dr. Cheryl Peters, Postdoctoral Fellow at Carleton University and Occupational Exposures Lead Scientist at CAREX Canada discusses radon, where it's found, the impact it can have on our health and how we can limit our exposure to it.

The podcast runs for 8:22 minutes.  Listen to the podcast now.

As you turn back the clocks check your carbon monoxide detectors.

ReadyWisconsin— As you turn back the clocks around your home this weekend, take advantage of the time change to replace the batteries in your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors.

"Those devices can be essential to alerting you to a fire or carbon monoxide leak in your home, so it's important to regularly check them and make sure they are working properly," said Wisconsin Emergency Management Administrator Brian Satula. "The time change on Nov. 4 provides an excellent opportunity and a reminder to make sure that's being done."

Smoke detectors are often the first alert you will get that there is a fire in your home. According to the National Fire Protection Association, three out of every five home fire deaths occurred when smoke detectors were either not present or were not working properly. Detectors should be tested monthly and the device itself should be replaced every 10 years.

In addition to smoke detectors, make sure you have working carbon monoxide detectors. Approximately 500 people are treated at hospital emergency rooms across the state annually for carbon monoxide poisoning, according to the Wisconsin Department of Health Services. Health officials say many of these cases could be prevented by having working carbon monoxide detectors.

Symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning include headaches, fatigue, dizziness, shortness of breath, nausea, and confusion. At high levels, carbon monoxide can cause death within minutes. If you suspect you or someone may be experiencing carbon monoxide poisoning, or your detector sounds an alarm, go outside immediately for fresh air and call 911.

To protect yourself and your family from carbon monoxide, follow these safety tips:
  • All homes and duplexes in Wisconsin are required to have detectors on every level, including the basement, but not the attic or storage areas. Detectors can be purchased at most hardware stores. Daylight saving time is a good time each year to replace the batteries in your detector and push the test button to be sure it's working properly. Replace your detector every five years.
  • Have your furnace or wood-burning stove inspected annually. Hire a professional to make sure it is functionally sound and vents properly outside the home.
  • Never run a gasoline or propane heater or a grill (gas or charcoal) inside your home or in an unventilated garage. Any heating system that burns fuel produces carbon monoxide. Use a battery-powered detector where you have fuel burning devices but no electric outlets, such as in tents, cabins, RVs and boats with enclosed cabins.
  • Generators should be run at a safe distance (at least 20 feet) from the home. Never run a generator in the home or garage, or right next to windows or doors.
  • Never run a car in an enclosed space. If a vehicle is running, you must have a door open to the outside.

For more information on carbon monoxide poisoning, visit: https://www.dhs.wisconsin.gov/air/co.html

Oct 31, 2018

Free Webinar - The Top NFPA 70E 2018 Changes Worth Discussing

November 08, 2018
2:00pm EST

Electrical equipment and electrical safety devices are constantly being changed and improved, hence why your electrical safety program must address those changes. The NFPA 70E Committee addresses these changes and updates the standard every three years as part of keeping up with current technology and safety concerns. This is a standard not only used by facility managers and safety officers, but also by OSHA inspectors, continually educating them on existing trends in electrical safety. In this webinar, we will go over the top 2018 NFPA 70E updates worth discussing.

What You Will Gain from Our Webinar:
  • Understanding of what changes were made to NFPA 70E
  • How changes will affect my company
  • How do I implement these changes?
  • When do these changes take effect?
Speaker

David Weszely
Safety and Training Manager
Lewellyn
About David Weszely
David is the Safety and Training Manager at Lewellyn Technology and has been with the company for 6 years. He provides vision, leadership, safety training, and technical expertise in areas of workplace safety including electrical safety program development. He also advises management on loss control and risk reduction strategies. 

Register Now

Oct 30, 2018

WWF report reveals a 60% decline in wildlife populations since 1970

A new WWF report has painted a grim picture of the impact human activity is having ... 

The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) has released its latest Living Planet Report, an assessment of the health of our planet, and paints a rather grim picture of the damage caused by humanity's growing footprint on Earth.

.. Continue Reading WWF report reveals a 60% decline in wildlife populations since 1970

Oct 29, 2018

Fact sheet outlines questions for employers to consider before making naloxone available at work

WASHINGTON – Opioid misuse and overdose deaths are a public health crisis affecting the nation, including workplaces. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), announces a new resource for employers and workers dealing with the opioid crisis. The new factsheet, Using Naloxone to Reverse Opioid Overdose in the Workplace: Information for Employers and Workers at https://www.cdc.gov/niosh/docs/2019-101/default.html¸ is a resource for workplaces that are considering implementing a naloxone program.

Naloxone is a drug that can reverse many of the life-threatening effects of overdoses from opioids. As the opioid crisis continues, employers and workers are confronting overdose situations at the workplace. Workers, clients, customers, and visitors may be at risk of an opioid overdose in a workplace. This factsheet provides a series of steps for employers to consider when deciding if their workplace should establish a naloxone program, making the overdose reversal medication available in the event of an overdose.
 
According to 2017 data from CDC's National Center for Health Statistics, on average 115 Americans die every day from an opioid overdose. Workplaces are increasingly becoming sites where overdoses are occurring, with the Bureau of Labor Statistics finding that between 2013 and 2016, overdose deaths at work from non-medical use of drugs and alcohol increased by at least 38% annually.

"With overdose events increasing in the workplace, having naloxone available can provide a tool that workplaces can use, along with first aid measures to support breathing, to provide aide in the event of an opioid overdose while waiting on first responders to arrive on the scene," said NIOSH Director John Howard, MD. "NIOSH developed this factsheet to help employers decide if having naloxone available is right for their workplace."

The NIOSH factsheet provides an overview of opioids and naloxone. It also gives employers and workers a series of questions to consider when looking at whether a naloxone program in their workplace is appropriate, as well as information about resources needed to implement and maintain such a program.

NIOSH developed this resource as part of its broader effort to confront the opioid crisis. The NIOSH framework at https://www.cdc.gov/niosh/topics/opioids/framework.html, which is NIOSH's plan to fight the opioid crisis from an occupational perspective, includes providing resources for workers, employers, and occupational safety and health professionals to learn more about the opioid crisis including data, field investigations, and research, as well as tools to help.

The NIOSH effort is part of the larger response by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), which outlined a 5-point strategy to combat the crisis, including improving prevention, data collection, and research.

NIOSH is the federal institute that conducts research and makes recommendations for preventing work-related injuries, illnesses, and deaths. For more information about NIOSH, visit www.cdc.gov/niosh/.