Jun 23, 2021

Free Course on COVID-19 Risk Assessments and Safety Plans

The health and safety of all workers should be a priority for employers, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic, whether they are working onsite, at home, or plan on returning to work.

To support managers, supervisors, and health and safety committees in keeping their workers protected, CCOHS has developed a free online course on COVID-19 risk assessment and safety plans. These plans outline the steps to reduce exposure; procedures to monitor exposure and health; and what to do if someone reports or shows signs or symptoms of infection.  

Learn about both work and personal factors to consider when assessing and preventing the risk of exposure, reviewing a safety plan to ensure it is effective, and keeping up to date with current COVID-19 guidelines.

Take the course for free: COVID-19 Workplace Risk Assessment and Safety Plan

OSHA Issues Emergency Temporary Standard and General Industry Guidance on COVID-19

On June 21, 2021, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) published in the Federal Register an Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS) to protect healthcare workers from contracting COVID-19. The standard focuses on protecting workers in health care settings with 10 or more employees where suspected or confirmed coronavirus patients are treated. This includes employees in hospitals, nursing homes, and assisted living facilities, as well as emergency responders, home health care workers, and employees in ambulatory care settings where suspected or confirmed coronavirus patients are treated.  OSHA also announced new general industry guidance for the coronavirus that is aligned with current Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidance.  The new ETS requires non-exempt facilities to conduct a hazard assessment and have a written plan to mitigate virus spread, and requires healthcare employers to provide some employees with N95 respirators or other personal protective equipment.  OSHA has requested comment on the ETS, which by statute remains in effect for 180 days.

Comments are due on or before July 21, 2021 and can be filed at (https://www.regulations.gov/document/OSHA-2020-0004-1033).
Please visit OSHA's COVID-19 webpage to read the new healthcare ETS and related guidance at COVID-19 Healthcare ETS | Occupational Safety and Health Administration (https://www.osha.gov/coronavirus/ets)

It’s raining ‘forever chemicals’ in the Great Lakes - Scientists found high levels of PFAS in raindrops.

A team of U.S. and Canadian scientists analyzed rainfall at six sites across the Great Lakes region and found high levels of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS, at all the sites, including, surprisingly, rural Michigan. The rainwater samples contained PFAS levels between 100 to 400 parts per trillion (ppt). For comparison, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's "safe" limit for drinking water — not rainwater — is 70 ppt.

The findings highlight the ubiquitous nature of PFAS chemicals, man-made substances used in common household products because of their water-, oil-, and grease-resistant qualities. Firefighting foam is also a main source of PFAS. Commonly referred to as "forever chemicals," their legacy can be found everywhere — in soil, groundwater, lakes, oceans, and now, even the rain.

"All of these products that we use in our everyday life are treated with PFAS," Marta Venier, an environmental chemist at Indiana University and the principal investigator for the research, told Grist. "So every time we use them, there is either dust or air where these chemicals are released."

PFAS chemicals are transported through the air and then deposited via precipitation into the environment, where it accumulates, can be ingested by wildlife, and can wind up in the human body. Studies indicate that exposure to PFAS chemicals can cause reproductive, liver, kidney, and immunological damage in laboratory animals. It's also a possible carcinogen — two PFAS chemicals have been shown to cause tumors in animal studies.

The new research was conducted by the Integrated Atmospheric Deposition Network, a monitoring program funded by the U.S. EPA's Great Lakes National Program Office, and managed by Indiana University.  

Beginning last August, scientists collected ambient air and rainwater samples for 38 different PFAS compounds from six sites across the Great Lakes region: Cleveland, Ohio, Chicago, Illinois, Sturgeon Point, New York, Point Petre in Ontario, Canada, and Sleeping Bear Dunes and Eagle Harbor, both in Michigan. Both the rural and urban sites' rainwater showed high levels of PFAS contamination.

Please read full at:

Jun 16, 2021

Opportunity for Director, Environmental, Health & Safety / Site Lead.

Opportunity for a leading pharmaceutical services organization looking for an Associate Director, Environmental, Health & Safety / Site Lead. This individual will be a culture change agent, responsible for at least two sites in the Detroit area. Rapidly growing company, preparing for a multi-million dollar, multi-site expansion. Scaling to 24/7 operations, high potency APIs.

For more information contact: Jamie Weisbrot Kipnes - jweisbrot(at)kleinhersh.com

Jun 10, 2021

U.S. Department of Energy Announces $14.5 Million to Accelerate Deployment of Geothermal Electricity

Today, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced a new Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) for up to $14.5 million to support active field testing of enhanced geothermal systems (EGS) technologies and techniques within existing wells.  EGS, like all geothermal resources, supplies secure, resilient renewable electricity and heating and cooling that is always-available regardless of weather, and with a small environmental footprint.

The Wells of Opportunity 2021 FOA, solicits the partnership of well owners or operators to help cost-effectively bring more geothermal power online using their existing wells.

There is vast potential for geothermal energy in the United States, but only 3.7 gigawatts electric (GWe) of energy are currently installed. The DOE Geothermal Technologies Office's (GTO) 2019 GeoVision study concludes that with technology improvements, especially in areas relevant to enhanced geothermal systems, geothermal power generation could increase 26-fold from today, representing 60 GWe by 2050.

"This new funding will help us tap into its enormous potential to power millions of homes and businesses and put thousands to work in good-paying clean energy jobs," said Acting Assistant Secretary for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Kelly Speakes-Backman. "Making use of the stranded heat beneath our feet and putting idle or underproductive wells to use for power generation will help us transition this important renewable resource closer to widespread deployment."

Read more at:

Jun 7, 2021

Asthma-Safer Cleaning and Disinfecting Update

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has updated their guidance for when to clean and when to disinfect in non-healthcare facilities. The new guidance emphasizes that when no people with confirmed or suspected COVID-19 are known to have been in an indoor setting within the last 24 hours, cleaning once a day is enough to keep a facility healthy.

When following this or any cleaning and disinfecting guidance it is important to know that disinfectants and cleaners often contain chemicals that can cause or trigger asthma. 
Worker cleaning a door handle

During May's Asthma Awareness Month, we're highlighting the importance of choosing safer products and cleaning and disinfecting safely. Here are some tips:
  • As indicated in the guidance, disinfect only when necessary. Routine cleaning performed effectively with soap or detergent can substantially reduce virus and bacteria levels on indoor surfaces.
  • The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) created a list of disinfectants that work to kill coronavirus. Choose hydrogen peroxide (without peracetic acid), lactic acid, citric acid, silver, or alcohol-based products whenever possible. These are not known to cause asthma.
  • Use as much ventilation as possible. Open windows if needed.
  • Dilute products properly. Do not make them more concentrated than the labels say.
  • Follow recommendations on the label or the safety data sheet. This may include wearing gloves or goggles.
  • Choose fragrance-free cleaning products.


Work-Related Asthma, Cleaning Products, and Disinfectants – OHB web page

Reminders for Using Disinfectants at Schools and Child Cares (PDF) | Spanish – California Department of Pesticide regulation InfoSheet

Fragrances and Work-Related Asthma – OHB web page

Cleaning for Asthma-Safe Schools (CLASS) – OHB web page

Work-Related Asthma Prevention Program (WRAPP) – OHB website