Friday, May 31, 2013

Dry-Cleaning Solvent TCE linked to increased liver cancer

Trichloroethylene (TCE) exposure has possible links to increased liver cancer risk, according to a study published this week in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

TCE is a chlorinated dry-cleaning solvent and degreaser that has been widely used over the last 100 years and has shown carcinogenicity in rodents. Previous epidemiologic studies have shown a reported increase in cancer risk in humans for the kidney, cervix, liver and biliary passages, non-Hodgkin lymphoma, and esophageal adenocarcinoma.

In order to determine the link between TCE exposure and increased cancer risk, Johnni Hansen, Ph.D., of the Danish Cancer Society Research Center in Copenhagen, and colleagues looked at workers that had individual documentation for exposure to TCE in Finland, Sweden, and Denmark, where the individuals were monitored for urinary TCE metabolite trichloroacetic acid during 1947-1989 and followed for cancer.

The researchers found statistically significant elevated ratios for primary liver cancer and cervical cancer, but did not find a statistically significant risk of either non-Hodgkin lymphoma or esophageal or kidney cancer.

"Our pooled study of documented TCE-exposed workers provides some evidence for an increased risk of liver cancer, although confounding by other exposures cannot be ruled out. Evaluation of a possible modest risk for kidney cancer and non- Hodgkin lymphoma requires studies with greater statistical power," the authors write.

In an accompanying editorial, Mark P. Purdue, Ph.D., of the Division of Cancer Epidemiology and Genetics at the National Cancer Institute writes that there has been concern with workers exposed to TCE since the early 1970s and that even though it is now classified as a human carcinogen, further research is needed and safer options should be explored.

"Where possible, TCE should be substituted by safer alternative chemicals and/or emissions should be reduced. Conversion from conventional vapor degreasers to new low-emission equipment such as enclosed vapor degreasing systems can greatly reduce solvent exposures in the workplace, and aqueous cleaning systems may also be feasible alternatives in certain applications."

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

EPA Proposes Rules to Protect Americans from Exposure to Formaldehyde

Photo: artur84/
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) today proposed two rules to help protect Americans from exposure to the harmful chemical formaldehyde, consistent with a Federal law unanimously passed by Congress in 2010. These rules ensure that composite wood products produced domestically or imported into the United States meet the formaldehyde emission standards established by Congress.

Formaldehyde is used in adhesives to make a wide range of building materials and products. Exposure to formaldehyde can cause adverse public health effects including eye, nose and throat irritation, other respiratory symptoms and, in certain cases, cancer.

“The proposed regulations announced today reflect EPA’s continued efforts to protect the public from exposure to harmful chemicals in their daily lives,” said James J. Jones, EPA’s acting assistant administrator for the Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention. “Once final, the rules will reduce the public’s exposure to this harmful chemical found in many products in our homes and workplaces."

In 2010, Congress passed the Formaldehyde Standards for Composite Wood Products Act, or Title VI of the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), which establishes emission standards for formaldehyde from composite wood products and directs EPA to propose rules to enforce the act’s provisions. EPA’s proposed rules align, where practical, with the requirements for composite wood products set by the California Air Resources Board, putting in place national standards for companies that manufacture or import these products. EPA’s national rules will also encourage an ongoing industry trend towards switching to no-added formaldehyde resins in composite wood products.

EPA's first proposal limits how much formaldehyde may be emitted from hardwood plywood, medium-density fiberboard, particleboard and finished goods, that are sold, supplied, offered for sale, manufactured, or imported in the United States. The emitted formaldehyde may be left over from the resin or composite wood making process or be released when the resin degrades in the presence of heat and humidity. This proposal also includes testing requirements, laminated product provisions, product labeling requirements, chain of custody documentation, recordkeeping, a stockpiling prohibition, and enforcement provisions. It also includes a common-sense exemption from some testing and record-keeping requirements for products made with no-added formaldehyde resins.

The second proposal establishes a third-party certification framework designed to ensure that manufacturers of composite wood products meet the TSCA formaldehyde emission standards by having their composite wood products certified though an accredited third-party certifier. It would also establish eligibility requirements and responsibilities for third-party certifier's and the EPA-recognized accreditation bodies who would accredit them. This robust proposed third-party certification program will level the playing field by ensuring composite wood products sold in this country meet the emission standards in the rule regardless of whether they were made in the United States or not.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Wal-Mart Pleads Guilty To Federal Environmental Crimes; Will Pay $81 Million +

Retailer admits violating criminal and civil laws designed to protect water quality and to ensure proper handling of hazardous wastes and pesticides

WASHINGTON – Wal-Mart Stores Inc. pleaded guilty today in cases filed by federal prosecutors in Los Angeles and San Francisco to six counts of violating the Clean Water Act by illegally handling and disposing of hazardous materials at its retail stores across the United States. The Bentonville, Ark.-based company also pleaded guilty today in Kansas City, Mo., to violating the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) by failing to properly handle pesticides that had been returned by customers at its stores across the country.

As a result of the three criminal cases brought by the Justice Department, as well as a related civil case filed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Wal-Mart will pay approximately $81.6 million for its unlawful conduct. Coupled with previous actions brought by the states of California and Missouri for the same conduct, Wal-Mart will pay a combined total of more than $110 million to resolve cases alleging violations of federal and state environmental laws.

According to documents filed in U.S. District Court in San Francisco, from a date unknown until January 2006, Wal-Mart did not have a program in place and failed to train its employees on proper hazardous waste management and disposal practices at the store level. As a result, hazardous wastes were either discarded improperly at the store level – including being put into municipal trash bins or, if a liquid, poured into the local sewer system – or they were improperly transported without proper safety documentation to one of six product return centers located throughout the United States.

“By improperly handling hazardous waste, pesticides and other materials in violation of federal laws, Wal-Mart put the public and the environment at risk and gained an unfair economic advantage over other companies,” said Ignacia S. Moreno, Assistant Attorney General for the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division.  “Today, Wal-Mart acknowledged responsibility for violations of federal laws and will pay significant fines and penalties, which will, in part, fund important environmental projects in the communities impacted by the violations and help prevent future harm to the environment.”

"Federal laws that address the proper handling, storage and disposal of hazardous wastes exist to safeguard our environment and protect the public from harm,” said AndrĂ© Birotte Jr., the U.S. Attorney for the Central District of California. “Retailers like Wal-Mart that generate hazardous waste have a duty to legally and safely dispose of that hazardous waste, and dumping it down the sink was neither legal nor safe. The case against Wal-Mart is designed to ensure compliance with our nation’s environmental laws now and in the future.”

“As one of the largest retailers in the United States, Wal-Mart is responsible not only for the stock on its shelves, but also for the significant amount of hazardous materials that result from damaged products returned by customers,” said Melinda Haag, U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of California. “The crimes in these cases stem from Wal-Mart's failure to comply with the regulations designed to ensure the proper handling, storage, and disposal of those hazardous materials and waste. With its guilty plea today, Wal-Mart is in a position to be an industry leader by ensuring that not only Wal-Mart, but all retail stores properly handle their waste.”

 “This tough financial penalty holds Wal-Mart accountable for its reckless and illegal business practices that threatened both the public and the environment,” said Tammy Dickinson, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Missouri. “Truckloads of hazardous products, including more than 2 million pounds of pesticides, were improperly handled under Wal-Mart’s contract. Today’s criminal fine should send a message to companies of all sizes that they will be held accountable to follow federal environmental laws. Additionally, Wal-Mart’s community service payment will fund important environmental projects in Missouri to help prevent such abuses in the future.”

“The FBI holds all companies, regardless of size, to the same standards,” said FBI Special Agent in Charge David J. Johnson of the San Francisco Field Office.  “We will continue to work closely with our law enforcement partners to ensure there is a level playing field for all businesses and that everyone follows the rules.”

“Today Wal-Mart is taking responsibility for violating laws that protect people from hazardous wastes and chemicals,” said Cynthia Giles, assistant administrator for EPA’s Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance.  “Walmart is committing to safe handling of hazardous wastes at all of its facilities nationwide, and action that will benefit communities across the country.”

Wal-Mart owns more than 4,000 stores nationwide that sell thousands of products which are flammable, corrosive, reactive, toxic or otherwise hazardous under federal law. The products that contain hazardous materials include pesticides, solvents, detergents, paints, aerosols and cleaners. Once discarded, these products are considered hazardous waste under federal law.

Wal-Mart pleaded guilty this morning in San Francisco to six misdemeanor counts of negligently violating the Clean Water Act. The six criminal charges were filed by the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Los Angeles and San Francisco (each office filed three charges), and the two cases were consolidated in the Northern District of California, where the guilty pleas were formally entered before U.S. Magistrate Judge Joseph C. Spero. As part of a plea agreement filed in California, Wal-Mart was sentenced to pay a $40 million criminal fine and an additional $20 million that will fund various community service projects, including opening a $6 million Retail Compliance Assistance Center that will help retail stores across the nation learn how to properly handle hazardous waste.

In the third criminal case resolved today, Wal-Mart pleaded guilty in the Western District of Missouri to violating FIFRA. According to a plea agreement filed in Kansas City, beginning in 2006, Wal-Mart began sending certain damaged household products, including regulated solid and liquid pesticides, from its six return centers to Greenleaf LLC, a recycling facility located in Neosho, Mo., where the products were processed for reuse and resale. Because Wal-Mart employees failed to provide adequate oversight of the pesticides sent to Greenleaf, regulated pesticides were mixed together and offered for sale to customers without the required registration, ingredients, or use information, which constitutes a violation of FIFRA.  Between July 2006 and February 2008, Wal-Mart trucked more than 2 million pounds of regulated pesticides and additional household products from its various return centers to Greenleaf. In November 2008, Greenleaf was also convicted of a FIFRA violation and paid a criminal penalty of $200,000 in 2009.     

Pursuant to the plea agreement filed in Missouri and accepted today by U.S. District Judge John T. Maughmer, Wal-Mart agreed to pay a criminal fine of $11 million and to pay another $3 million to the Missouri Department of Natural Resources, which will go to that agency’s Hazardous Waste Program and will be used to fund further inspections and education on pesticide regulations for regulators, the regulated community and the public. In addition, Wal-Mart has already spent more than $3.4 million to properly remove and dispose of all hazardous material from Greenleaf’s facility.

In conjunction with today’s guilty pleas in the three criminal cases, Wal-Mart has agreed to pay a $7.628 million civil penalty that will resolve civil violations of FIFRA and Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA). In addition to the civil penalties, Wal-Mart is required to implement a comprehensive, nationwide environmental compliance agreement to manage hazardous waste generated at its stores.  The agreement includes requirements to ensure adequate environmental personnel and training at all levels of the company, proper identification and management of hazardous wastes, and the development and implementation of Environmental Management Systems at its stores and return centers. Compliance with this agreement is a condition of probation imposed in the criminal cases.

The criminal cases announced today are a result of investigations conducted by the FBI and the EPA, which received substantial assistance from the California Department of Substance and Toxics Control, and the Missouri Department of Natural Resources.

In Missouri, the case was prosecuted by Deputy U.S. Attorney Gene Porter and ENRD Senior Trial Attorney Jennifer Whitfield of the Environmental Crimes Section of the Environment and Natural Resources Division. In California, the cases were prosecuted in Los Angeles by Assistant U.S. Attorney Joseph O. Johns and in San Francisco by Assistant U.S. Attorney Stacey Geis.

More information about the case: URL

Improve air quality and reduce liability. Contact an Electrocorp air quality expert to create a customize IAQ plan for you 1-866-667-0297.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Lack of personal protective equipment among 33 violations cited by OSHA at Ohio foundry; Face $170,107 fine

The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration has cited A & B Foundry & Machining LLC with 33 health and safety violations, including four repeat. The Nov. 15, 2012, inspection was initiated under the national emphasis program targeting the primary metals industry. Proposed fines total $170,107.

"A & B Foundry & Machining has a responsibility to train and protect workers from known industry hazards, such as exposure to noise, respiratory and machine guarding," said Bill Wilkerson, OSHA's area director in Cincinnati. "Programmed inspections help OSHA achieve its goal of reducing worker injuries and illnesses by directing enforcement resources to industries where the highest rates of injuries and illness have occurred."

Four repeat violations involve failing to provide fire extinguisher, noise and chemical hazards training; perform medical evaluations of workers required to use respirators and to fit-test respirators. A repeat violation exists when an employer previously has been cited for the same or a similar violation of a standard, regulation, rule or order at any other facility in federal enforcement states within the last five years. The same violations were cited in 2009.

Twenty-six serious violations include failing to ensure use of personal protective equipment, prevent use of damaged personal protective equipment and conduct annual audiograms. OSHA also found fall hazards, poor housekeeping, inoperative safety latches on crane hoists, lack of machine guarding on multiple machines, electric safety violations, and a failure to train workers on and conduct periodic inspections of energy control procedures. A serious violation occurs when there is substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result from a hazard about which the employer knew or should have known.

Three other-than-serious violations include not conducting performance evaluations for forklift operators, a partially blocked exit door and lack of certification of a workplace hazard assessment. An other-than-serious violation is one that has a direct relationship to job safety and health, but probably would not cause death or serious physical harm.

The current citations may be viewed at**

The facility employs about 55 workers and, since 2004, four previous inspections have resulted in multiple citations. The company has 15 business days from receipt of its citations and penalties to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA's area director or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their employees. OSHA's role is to ensure these conditions for America's working men and women by setting and enforcing standards, and providing training, education and assistance. For more information, visit
Improve air quality and reduce liability. Contact an Electrocorp air quality expert to create a customize IAQ plan for you 1-866-667-0297.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Unsellable Homes: Odor Control When Marketing a Property

Lingers odors are among the top turn-offs for property buyers. Leading the list of offensive scents are cigarettes and pets, neither of which can be remedied easily. 
Why cleaning and sprays don’t work
Sprays and even surface cleaning won’t work on difficult odors like smoke, urine or litter. Most products simply mask the odor or mingle with the existing odor. Often, these smells have been absorbed into draperies, carpet padding, floors and soft furniture making a spray or quick “airing out” ineffective. Sprays, cleaners and candles are also laden with chemicals and fragrances which trigger allergies and asthma and could aggravate the lungs of prospective buyers and homeowners. 

Safe industrial-strength air cleaning
Electrocorp air cleaners offer safe, industrial-strength air scrubbing in a compact and portable format. Units use activated carbon, the same material using in military gas masks, to remove stubborn odors, chemicals gases and fumes. Carbon is safe to use around people and pets and is favoured by heavy industry, laboratories and the military to safely remove some of the world’s toughest chemicals and odors.

An investment that pays  
Real estate agents that purchase air cleaners to have as part of their personal home-staging arsenal, can offer a value-added service to homeowners and can often recoup their investment with only one sale. 

Contact an Electrocorp Air Quality Expert to learn more about our industrial air cleaners.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

New Study Offers Insight Into How to Best Manage Workaholics

Photo: adamr/

Workaholics tend to live in extremes, with great job satisfaction and creativity on the one hand and high levels of frustration and exhaustion on the other hand. Now, a new Florida State University study offers managers practical ways to help these employees stay healthy and effective on the job.

Wayne Hochwarter, the Jim Moran Professor of Business Administration in Florida State’s College of Business, and research associate Daniel Herrera studied more than 400 employees in professional and administrative occupations and found about 60 percent of these workers identified themselves as workaholics who characteristically “feel guilty when taking time off.”

These self-identified workaholics reported positive and negative career consequences. For example, workaholics reported they gave more effort compared to other workers, but they also experienced more tension. They were more willing to help others, yet were more likely to view co-workers as feeling entitled.

“We found that there is an optimal level of workaholism for job effectiveness and positive health,” Hochwarter said. “However, when in excessively low or high ranges, both the company and the employee are likely to suffer.”

Identified workaholics were divided into those who had access to resources, such as personnel, rest, equipment and social support at work, and those who did not.

“We discovered that workaholics really struggle when they feel that they are alone or swimming upstream without a paddle,” Hochwarter said.

Workaholics who said they had access to resources reported a:
•40 percent higher rate of job satisfaction
•33 percent lower rate of burnout
•30 percent higher rate of perceived job importance
•30 percent lower rate of exclusion from others
•25 percent higher rate of career fulfillment
•20 percent lower rate of work frustration.

“Given the volatility in today’s work environment, the ability to work hard, contribute long hours and demonstrate value is at a premium,” Herrera said. “Thus, workaholism will likely remain alive and well for years to come.”

But there are ways to guide the efforts of workaholics in positive directions, researchers said.

First, leaders should meet with workaholics to determine what physical and social resources they need and then help increase their accessibility to those resources in fair and reasonable ways, according to the researchers. Managers often assume that workaholics simply want others to get out of their way. In reality, the goal of most workaholics is to contribute to the company, achieve personal success and see how their efforts affect the bottom line — objectives that are much more likely achieved with resources.

Second, managers need to have more realistic expectations, they said. Workaholics are often the company’s most productive employees — serving as the manager’s “go-to” worker when an important project surfaces or a deadline looms. Because of their value, managers have a tendency to run workaholics into the ground, promising a future chance to recharge that often never happens.

“Having realistic expectations that take into account both the work and the person doing the work, is essential,” Hochwarter said. The warning signs of burnout are recognizable and, if ignored, they will eventually lead to unwanted outcomes ranging from declining performance to death.

Cleaner indoor air is associated with an increase in job satisfaction and a reduction in absenteeism. Contact an Electrocorp Air Quality Expert to learn more about our industrial air cleaners.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Health Experts Say Changes Needed to Ensure Productivity of Aging Workers

New efforts to integrate health protection and health promotion programs in the workplace are needed soon if the nation’s aging workforce is to remain competitive and productive, according to recommendations released this week by two leading U.S. occupational health organizations.

The recommendations, published in the May Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, official publication of the American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine (ACOEM), summarize results of a two-day, national invitational summit on aging in the workplace, convened last year by ACOEM and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH).

Between 2005 and 2030, the number of Americans 65 and older will almost double – with a significant number continuing to work. By 2015, it is estimated that one in five U.S. workers will be a Baby Boomer. Statistics show that this demographic group reports a higher incidence than earlier generations of chronic disease and other health limitations that can impact work.

Among their key recommendations, summit participants called for greater awareness of aging issues among employers and establishment of a new “culture of health” in the workplace that better integrates safety and wellness programs to ensure workers are able to work productively and in good health throughout their careers. The recommendations call for “age-friendly” programs and policies which will create optimal working conditions for workers in each phase of careers – from the earliest stages through retirement.

As a part of this effort, the recommendations call for incentives in health benefits to encourage more healthy behaviors among employees, the use of new models of “job transitioning” that help employees remain productive even as their capacities for work change, and the use of new standards for measuring the value of companies that would include workforce health as a factor. The recommendations also call for better research-design models to help collect better data on worker health, and for more research on the investment value of health protection and promotion in the workplace.

Participants at the aging summit were comprised of a diverse pool of leaders in health, safety, and business – including corporations, academia, medicine, government, business coalitions, and experts from NIOSH, ACOEM, and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“The aging of the world’s populations will have many dramatic impacts on society – and among the most significant of them will be the effect on national productivity,” said Ronald Loeppke, MD, ACOEM President, who helped organize the summit. “The good news is that aging workers are a valuable resource that can be engaged for nation’s benefit - but only if we redouble our efforts to keep them healthy over the full span of their careers.”

Older workers can play an invaluable role in the workplace, bringing with them their years of experience and knowledge,” said summit co-organizer and Senior Science Advisor at NIOSH Anita Schill, PhD. “Better integration of health protection and health promotion measures aimed at improving the health of individuals in both the workplace and in the community are needed to help all workers achieve their full potential.”

The summit’s recommendations call for a new multi-generational approach to aging in the workplace that emphasizes worker health from the first day a young person enters the workforce. “This is not about simply trying to keep older workers healthy – it’s about better health for everyone, and creation of a culture in which employers consider health promotion and protection an integral part of their long-term planning for all employees,” said Dr. Loeppke.

ACOEM and NIOSH have announced that they plan additional collaborations in the future on workplace aging, including an extension of the work started with the Summit on Advancing the Health Protection and Promotion of an Aging Workforce.
Cleaner indoor air is associated with an increase in productivity and job satisfaction. Contact an Electrocorp Air Quality Expert to learn more about our industrial air cleaners.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Anheuser-Busch Houston cited by OSHA for failing to protect workers from carbon dioxide exposure

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration has cited Anheuser-Busch Cos. LLC in Houston with one alleged willful and five serious violations for failing to protect workers from exposure to carbon dioxide and other workplace hazards while working in brewery cellars. The October 2012 complaint inspection of the facility on Gellhorn Drive has resulted in a proposed penalty totaling $88,000.

The alleged willful violation was cited for failing to consider the carbon dioxide atmosphere in the brewing cellars to be immediately dangerous to life or health while also failing to identify respiratory hazards. A willful violation is one where an employer has demonstrated either an intentional disregard for the requirements of the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, or a plain indifference to employee safety and health.

“Employers must recognize the hazards that exist in their workplaces and then develop the necessary safety and health policies and procedures to protect workers,” said David Doucet, OSHA’s area director at its Houston North Office.

The serious violations cited include failing to verify that conditions in permit required confined spaces are acceptable throughout the duration of the entry; ensure the entrant can communicate with the permit required confined space attendant as necessary, so that entrants can be monitored in the event an evacuation is needed; ensure each attendant performs no other duty that might interfere with the attendant’s primary duty to monitor and protect the entrant of the permit required confined space; evaluate a prospective rescuer’s ability to respond to a rescue summons in a timely manner; and inform each team or rescue service of the hazards they may confront when called upon to perform a rescue at the site. A serious violation is one that could cause death or serious physical harm to the employees when the employer knew or should have known about the hazard.

Anheuser-Busch, headquartered in St. Louis, employs about 600 workers at its Houston brewery. It has 15 business days from the receipt of the citations to comply, request an informal conference with the Houston North area director, or contest the citations and penalties before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

To ask questions, obtain compliance assistance, file a complaint, or report workplace hospitalizations, fatalities or situations posing imminent danger to workers, the public should call OSHA’s toll-free hotline at 800-321-OSHA (6742) or the agency’s Houston North Area Office at 281-591-2438.

Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their employees. OSHA’s role is to ensure these conditions for America’s working men and women by setting and enforcing standards, and providing training, education, and assistance. For more information, visit

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Engineer in court on Canadian mall collapse charges

Source: CBC
An engineer charged in connection with the Elliot Lake mall collapse is due in court this week. Robert Wood is scheduled to make an appearance as charges under Ontario's Occupational Health and Safety Act proceed.

Wood last inspected the Algo Centre Mall in April of last year.

In his report following that inspection, Wood said the mall was structurally sound.

Not long after his report was released, the mall suffered a partial collapse, killing two women.

Wood is accused of endangering a worker by providing negligent advice.

The charges are not related to the proceedings of the public inquiry, which continues in Elliot Lake.

Wood will also appear as a witness at the inquiry next month.


Do you have workplace health and safety concerns? Cleaner indoor air is associated with an increase in productivity and job satisfaction. Contact an Electrocorp Air Quality Expert to learn more about our industrial air cleaners.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Annual Workplace Safety Fair to Help Businesses with OSHA Compliance

Spectrum Training Services, Inc., a state partner to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), will host its annual workplace safety fair Tuesday, June 18, 2013, from 10:00 to 5:00 at the Renaissance Chicago North Shore Hotel. The Fair will feature vendors and professionals from the occupational health and safety industry who will share the latest information about personal workplace safety and OSHA compliance for Chicago land businesses.

Spectrum Training Services, which provides occupational safety and health training to ensure a safe workplace, has invited exhibitors from industries such as facility maintenance and operation, environmental protection, ergonomics and risk management, to display their safety solutions and products.

Frank L. Berg, CSP, a partner in Accident Prevention Corporation and former OSHA Compliance Officer, is scheduled to be the keynote speaker. This year’s conference theme is “Choose Safety First.”

“OSHA’s strong enforcement, training, outreach and compliance assistance have saved thousands of lives and prevented countless injuries,” stated Tami Gilbert, RN, MSN, MBA and founder of Spectrum Training Services. “It’s imperative that personnel have the knowledge and ability to recognize, avoid and prevent safety and health hazards. And the use of safety is even more important to prevent workplace accidents. Our Annual Workplace Fairs give employers and safety professionals an opportunity to see the latest safety products such as personal protective equipment, hazard controls and fall protection, and learn more about satisfying OSHA requirements.”

For more information about the Annual Workplace Safety Fair, please visit

Do you have an air quality problem? Contact an Electrocorp Air Quality Expert to learn more about our industrial air cleaners for chemical and odor control, particle control and general air filtration.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Formaldehyde Banned from Children’s Products in Minnesota

Photo: Grant Cochrane/
State representatives in Minnesota have voted to ban formaldehyde, a cancer causing chemical, from children’s personal care products in an effort to protect children from toxic chemicals. The ban was approved after a 113-13 vote.

This ban will prohibit companies from intentionally using formaldehyde and formaldehyde-releasing preservatives in products intended for children under the age of eight. This will apply to children’s products such as soaps, lotions, shampoos, and bubble baths. Companies have until August 1, 2014 to remove these products from store shelves.

Formaldehyde is a commonly used chemical compound found in building materials and various household products. The colorless, flammable, and strong-smelling chemical is not considered an ingredient, and therefore consumers will not find it listed on product labels.

Concerned about chemical exposure in the workplace? Contact an Electrocorp air quality expert to learn more about our industrial air cleaners.

Monday, May 13, 2013

VIDEO: Museums study air pollution and how it impacts their exhibits

Air pollutants are a serious threat to art and cultural artifacts. A museum is Oslo is testing a new on-site pollution meter which provides real time results. They're also studying the effects of air pollution on exhibits.

 For information on industrial air cleaners for museums and libraries contact an Electrocorp air quality expert.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

150 Workers Die Every Day From Injuries or Occupational Diseases According To New Report on Worker Safety and Health

In 2011, 4,693 workers were killed on the job, according to a new AFL-CIO report, “Death on the Job: The Toll of Neglect.”

That is an average of thirteen workers every day. In addition, another estimated 50,000 die every year from occupational diseases – an average of 137 a day, bringing the total worker fatalities to 150 a day. North Dakota, Wyoming, Alaska and Arkansas had the highest workplace fatality rates, while New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Washington had the lowest. Latino workers, especially those born outside of the United States, continue to face rates of workplace fatalities fourteen percent higher than other workers, the same as last year.

In 2011, 3.8 million workers across all industries experienced work-related illnesses and injuries. The true toll is estimated to be two to three times greater, but lack of reporting in this area results in lower official figures.

The job fatality rate had been declining steadily for many years, but in the past three years the rate has essentially been unchanged, at 3.5 fatalities per 100,000 workers. Similarly, for the past two years, there has been no change in the reported workplace injury and illness rate (3.5 per 100 workers). If we are to make progress in reducing job injuries and deaths, we will need more concerted efforts and additional resources.

This year’s report comes on the heels of a horrific explosion at a fertilizer plant in West, Texas, which killed 15 people, injured hundreds more and caused widespread destruction, as well as the tragic collapse of a building that housed garment factories in Bangladesh, which led to the death of over six hundred workers.

The report also examines the role of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) 43 years after its creation. It finds that OSHA remains underfunded and understaffed, and that penalties are too low to deter violations. Because of the underfunding, federal OSHA inspectors can only inspect workplaces once every 131 years on average, and state OSHA inspectors would take 76 years to inspect all workplaces.

OSHA penalties are too low to be taken seriously, let alone provide deterrence. The average penalty is only $2,156 for a serious federal health and safety violation, and only $974 for a state violation. Even in cases involving worker fatalities, the median total penalty was a paltry $5,175 for federal OSHA and $4,200 for the OSHA state plans. By contrast, property damage valued between $300 and $10,000 in the state of Illinois is considered a Class 4 felony and can carry a prison sentence of 1 to 3 years and a fine of up to $25,000.

Criminal penalties under OSHA are also weak. While there were 320 criminal enforcement cases initiated under federal environmental laws and 231 defendants charged in FY 2012, only 84 cases related to worker deaths have been prosecuted since 1970.

In the face of an ongoing assault on regulations by business groups and Republicans in Congress, progress on many new important safety and health rules has stalled. The White House Office of Management and Budget has delayed needed protections, including OSHA’s draft proposed silica rule, which has been held up for more than two years.

“In 2013, it is unacceptable that so many hardworking men and women continue to die on the job,” said AFL-CIO President and third-generation coal miner Richard Trumka. “No one should have to sacrifice his or her life or health and safety in order to earn a decent living. Yet, elected leaders, business groups and employers have failed to provide adequate health and safety protections for working families. At the same time, too many politicians and business leaders are actively working to dismantle working people’s right to collectively bargain on the job and speak out against unsafe, unjust working conditions. This is a disgrace to all those who have died. America’s workers deserve better.”

“Death on the Job: The Toll of Neglect” was released after hundreds of Workers Memorial Day vigils, rallies and action were held across the country to commemorate all those workers who died and were injured on the job.

Cleaner indoor air is associated with an increase in productivity and job satisfaction. Contact an Electrocorp Air Quality Expert to learn more about our industrial air cleaners.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Occupational data in medical billing records could prevent workplace injuries

A subtle change to hospital data collection policies could make a big difference in preventing occupational health and safety hazards, according to workplace safety researchers at the Drexel University School of Public Health.

In a new article published in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, the researchers call on industry, occupational medicine and public health communities to support a change to data collection methods to include industry and occupation data.

Every year, nearly four million Americans suffer a workplace injury, yet hospitals in the United States do not currently track and report these incidents. The estimated number of workplace injuries is based on probability samples, which underestimate the true extent of workplace injuries. These estimates also have significant gaps when it comes to tracking details about types of injuries and how, when and why specific injuries occur – which are essential details to inform prevention efforts. If this information were collected on every patient, physicians, researchers and payors would be able to accurately describe occupational injuries and illnesses, and support prevention initiatives.

"This is one of the most important policy initiatives I've worked on," said Dr. Jennifer Taylor, an assistant professor at Drexel and an author of the new paper. "If we could get industry and occupation information from everyone who seeks care in a hospital, we would have a really good handle on how many injuries and illnesses there are. This would enable us as a nation to develop evidenced-based prevention strategies to address the hazards of work."

Aggregate data collected from hospital and emergency department records are used routinely in public health activities. Adding a standard process for recording data about patients' industry and occupation would ultimately facilitate the collection of important information from every patient in the U.S. who is admitted to the hospital or seen in an emergency department, the authors point out.

The impetus for initiating industry and occupation data collection began with the Firefighter Injury Research and Safety Trends (FIRST) project, a FEMA-funded grant project led by Taylor, on which co-author Leslie Frey works as a policy coordinator. (

Taylor and Frey argue that the benefits of collecting industry and occupation data extend to not only firefighters, but to every American who works.

In the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine paper, Taylor and Frey discuss the benefits of industry and occupation data collection when treating injuries and illnesses and describe processes and coding standards by which such data could be added to hospital discharge data. They highlight case studies, such as a program at Michigan State University that tracked amputations related to workplace injuries, and led to detection of occupational hazards.

Taylor and Frey acknowledge that there will be some costs associated with additional data collection. However, by recommending the use of existing federal standard codes for occupation and industry data, they note that the data collection can proceed with a minimal cost and effort to hospitals.

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Thursday, May 2, 2013

EPA Takes Action Against Violators of the Lead Renovation, Repair and Painting Rule

Today, EPA announced 17 enforcement actions for violations of the Lead Renovation, Repair and Painting rule (RRP).

The RRP rule protects homeowners and tenants from dangerous lead dust that can be left behind after common renovation, repair, and painting work. It requires that contractors and subcontractors be properly trained and certified, and use lead-safe work practices to ensure that lead dust is minimized. Lead exposure can cause a range of health effects, from behavioral problems and learning disabilities to seizures and death, putting young children at the greatest risk because their nervous systems are still developing. 

“Using lead-safe work practices is good business and it’s the law,” said Cynthia Giles, assistant administrator for EPA’s Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance. “EPA is taking action to enforce lead rules to protect people from exposure to lead and to ensure a level playing field for contractors that follow the rules.”

The enforcement actions address serious violations of the RRP rule, including fourteen actions where the contractor failed to obtain certification prior to performing or offering to perform renovation activities on pre-1978 homes, where lead is more likely to be present. Other alleged violations included failure to follow the lead-safe work practices, which are critical to reducing exposure to lead-based paint hazards.

The 17 enforcement actions listed below include 14 administrative settlements assessing civil penalties of up to $23,000. These settlements also required the contractors to certify that they had come into compliance with the requirements of the RRP rule. Additionally, EPA filed three administrative complaints seeking civil penalties of up to the statutory maximum of $37,500 per violation. As required by the Toxic Substances Control Act, a company or individual’s ability to pay a penalty is evaluated and penalties are adjusted accordingly.

Enforcement actions:

•    Groeller Painting, Inc. of St. Louis, Missouri.
•    Albracht Permasiding and Window, Co. of Omaha, Nebraska.
•    Midwest College Painters, LLC of Bloomfield Hills, Michigan.
•    ARK Property Investments, LLC of Richmond, Indiana.
•    Henderson & Associates Services of Largo, Florida.
•    Home Resources Management, LLC of Columbia, Tennessee.
•    Camaj Interiors & Exteriors of Jacksonville, Florida.
•    Cherokee Home Improvements, LLC of Church Creek, Maryland.
•    Window World of Harford located in Belair, Maryland.  
•    EA Construction and General Contracting of West Chester, Pennsylvania.
•    Roman Builders of Morton, Pennsylvania.  
•    Accolade Construction Group, Inc. of New York, New York.
•    PZ Painting of Springfield, New Jersey.  
•    Creative Renovations of Brooklyn, New York.
•    Reeson Construction of Webster, New Hampshire.
•    New Hampshire Plate Glass Corporation of Portsmouth, New Hampshire.
•    CM Rogers Handyman of Manchester, New Hampshire. 

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Escambia Co. Workers Hospitalized for Chemical Exposure

Source: AP

Four workers at an Escambia County office complex in Pensacola, Florida were hospitalized and the building was briefly evacuated after workers smelled apparent chemical fumes from a nearby laboratory.

The Pensacola News Journal reports that the building reopened Wednesday afternoon after it was deemed safe by the county's hazardous-materials unit.

Escambia County spokesman Bill Pearson says the smell began on the first floor near a laboratory used for water sampling.

Officials said exposure to the chemical can cause burning of the eyes and throat and vomiting but that the chemical is not life-threatening.