Guide to Help Manufacturers Identify Safer Alternatives Released

June 19, 2017

California’s Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) recently released the first version of its Alternatives Analysis Guide, which was developed to help manufacturers identify safer alternatives to hazardous ingredients in certain consumer products.

The release is a key milestone in DTSC’s Safer Consumer Products program, which seeks to reduce toxic chemicals in products that consumers buy and use. The program creates a process to identify hazardous chemicals, and encourages manufacturers to replace them with safer alternatives.

“The Safer Consumer Products program is a landmark shift in the way California ensures the safety of consumer products,” said DTSC Director Barbara A. Lee. “As a global leader and collaborator, DTSC looks forward to building upon industry’s best practices and assisting manufacturers. We are providing tools that will help manufacturers innovate to meet the requirements of our regulations and create a safer environment in California.”

The release of the Alternatives Analysis Guide follows extensive input from the public in a process that began in September 2015. The guide will be periodically updated to reflect advances in Alternatives Analysis as the program evolves.

Through the Alternatives Analysis process, manufacturers identify, evaluate, and compare one or more alternatives to their current product formulation. This comprehensive consideration of alternatives is designed to avoid unintended consequences of substituting one harmful chemical for another and to evaluate impacts throughout the entire life cycle of a product.

“We have compiled resources and tools that we believe will help manufacturers conduct those evaluations. Manufacturers have the flexibility to integrate those tools that best align with their own business processes so they can be innovative in their approach to identify substitute chemicals that are safer for the people of California and the environment,” said Meredith Williams, Ph.D., Deputy Director for DTSC’s Safer Consumer Products and Workplaces Program.

Release of the Alternatives Analysis Guide coincides with finalization of rulemaking for the SCP Program’s first Priority Product—children’s foam padded sleeping pads, such as nap mats, with certain flame retardants. This regulation becomes effective on July 1st. DTSC’s proposed rule to list its second Priority Product, spray polyurethane foam (SPF) systems with MDI, completed its public comment period on June 6. Regulations to list paint stripper containing methylene chloride as a Priority Product are also under development.

An online version of the AA Guide is available at: Comments on the guide can be provided at Discussion of the AA Guide will be an agenda item during the next meeting of the DTSC Green Ribbon Science Panel scheduled for July 17 and 18.

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Parents Warned to Avoid Children's Furniture and Other Products Containing Flame Retardant Chemicals

The Connecticut Departments of Consumer Protection (DCP), Public Health (DPH) and Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) Recently warned parents and others purchasing children’s products to avoid any product containing one of three flame retardant chemicals that the EPA and the state agencies have identified as highly toxic. The warning is part of an increased effort on the part of the three state agencies to educate the public on toxic chemicals found in children’s products.

One prioritized chemical, Tris-(1,3-dichloro-2-propyl)phosphate (TDCPP), was previously removed from children’s sleepwear in the 1970s because of cancer concerns. Despite continued cancer concerns, it is still widely used in products designed for young children, including crib bumpers, changing table pads, and children’s foam padded sleep mats. Tris-(2-chloroethyl)phosphate (TCEP), a related Tris flame retardant, and hexabromocyclododecane (HBCD), a flame retardant that can build up in a child’s body over time and potentially affect the endocrine system and brain development, are the other two flame retardants that have been identified as being of high concern for continued wide use in children’s products. TCEP is found in many of the same products as TDCPP. HBCD can be found in some children’s car seats and soft furniture. When shopping for these children’s products, consumers should ask retailers any questions they have, check product labels, and consult manufacturers if need be.

More detailed information on the three chemicals and toxic substances in children’s products can be found on a new webpage created by DCP and DPH by clicking here.

“The scientific and medical communities’ understanding of the risks to health, especially for young developing children, posed by flame retardants continues to evolve and we are proud to work with our sister agencies to educate the public on the dangers of these chemicals to young children,” said DPH Commissioner Dr. Raul Pino. “We want parents and others to make informed, safe choices when purchasing products for their children.”

“DCP has a vital role under the Child Protection Act to make sure that the toys, clothing, bedding, furniture and accessories purchased for children do not pose health risks,” Consumer Protection Commissioner Michelle H. Seagull added, “We are pleased to join with our sister agencies to highlight chemicals of concern in children’s products. This effort is just one step forward in supporting the marketplace as it works to find safe alternatives for these children’s products.”

“We appreciate the important work of our partners at DPH and DCP to identify and make parents aware of chemicals in products that could cause harm to young children,” said DEEP Deputy Commissioner for Environmental Quality, Bob Kaliszewksi. “DEEP is also committed to making certain that the use of chemicals in manufacturing processes is properly regulated—and ensuring compliance with requirements limiting the discharge of chemicals into our air, water, or lands.”

The educational campaign announced recently by DPH, DCP and DEEP grew out of a provision in the state’s Child Protection Act requiring the State to inform the public about potential dangers associated with children’s products. Previous educational campaigns in Connecticut have focused on children’s exposure to arsenic in pressure-treated wood, infant ingestion of bisphenol A from baby bottles, and the safe consumption of fish during pregnancy. The current effort increases the focus on emerging contaminants in children’s products.

Employers Reminded to Protect Workers from Heat in Face of Temperature Surge

Cal/OSHA reminded all employers to protect their outdoor workers from heat illness, especially those not accustomed to working in high heat conditions. Employers need to ensure workers are drinking plenty of water and taking breaks in the shade as temperatures rise across many regions of California.

“California rules are very clear on how employers must protect their workers from heat illness,” said Cal/OSHA Chief Juliann Sum. “Our goal is to prevent deaths and serious illnesses and injuries caused by exposure to heat.”

Special attention must be given to new employees who have not been acclimatized to working under hot conditions, as they are particularly vulnerable to heat illness. They must be monitored carefully for signs of heat illness and should, if possible, be allowed to begin work earlier in the day when the temperature is lower or gradually work up to a full schedule.

Many regions of the state will be reaching temperatures in the triple digits. When temperatures reach 95 degrees or above, employers are required to implement high- heat procedures to ensure outdoor workers are protected. Procedures include effective monitoring of all workers through methods such as a mandatory buddy system for workers or regular communication with workers who work alone.

California’s Heat Illness Prevention Standard requires employers to train workers on the signs and symptoms of heat illness, provide shade when temperatures exceed 80 degrees, develop emergency response procedures and train workers on how to execute those procedures when necessary.

Cal/OSHA inspects outdoor worksites in agriculture, construction, landscaping, and other operations throughout the heat season. Cal/OSHA’s Heat Illness Prevention program, the first of its kind in the nation, includes enforcement of heat regulations as well as multilingual outreach and training for California’s employers and workers. Online information on heat illness prevention requirements and training materials are available on Cal/OSHA’s Heat Illness Prevention web page or the Water. Rest. Shade. campaign site. A Heat Illness Prevention e-tool is also available on Cal/OSHA’s website.

Private Dental Practices Lack OSHA Bloodborne Pathogens Exposure Control Plans

Findings from a web-based survey conducted by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) and the Organization for Safety, Asepsis and Prevention (OSAP) showed that over a quarter of private dental practices who participated in the survey did not have a written site-specific bloodborne pathogens exposure control plan (ECP). This study is published in the June issue of the Compendium of Continuing Education in Dentistry and is available online.

The paper presents information on whether private dental practices were aware of OSHA’s requirement for an ECP, had a written ECP addressing all requisite elements, and could identify barriers to implementation of an ECP. The OSHA bloodborne pathogen (BBP) standard covers all dental healthcare settings where dental healthcare personnel could be exposed to blood or certain body fluids during the performance of their job, and describes precautionary practices to protect healthcare workers from pathogens such as hepatitis B virus (HBV), hepatitis C virus (HBV), and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). These pathogens can be transmitted from patient to dental healthcare provider or patient to patient via contact with blood or certain body fluids.

Overall, 1,059 respondents representing private, non-franchised dental practices across the U.S. completed the online survey. They primarily included dentists who owned the practice (63%) and others in the practice including non-owner dentists, dental hygienists, and other staff.

“Having an effective exposure control plan that everyone in the dental office is aware of will better protect dental healthcare personnel and their patients from exposure to bloodborne pathogens” said NIOSH Director John Howard, M.D. “Identifying any barriers to the implementation of an exposure control plan is a critically important step to making the exposure control plan as effective as it can be.”

Survey findings showed that participating private dental practices were either unaware of the requirement to have an ECP or did not adhere to all key elements of the ECP if they had one. Salient findings, expressed as percent of dental practices that participated in the survey, show that:

  • 28% did not have a written site-specific ECP, including 4% who didn’t know whether or not they had one
  • 50% without an ECP had no plans to implement one in the next 12 months
  • 20% with a plan had not implemented all of the elements; the primary reasons for not having all elements was “not aware it was needed” (50%), “lack of expertise” (47%), and “lack of time” (36%)
  • 24% with a plan had not reviewed it within the past year
  • 65% did not use needles with sharps injury prevention features
  • 15% did not offer HBV vaccine to its employees and another 8% did not know if they did or not

NIOSH found that survey respondents from dental practices were either unaware of, or not fully complying with, the OSHA BBP standard. A relatively low response rate precludes generalization of the findings to all private dental practices. Nevertheless, the findings should prompt all dental practices to evaluate if they have an appropriate ECP containing all of the key elements and develop an ECP if they do not have one. Periodic review of the ECP and training and education of staff with potential exposure to BBPs on current infection control policies and practices is necessary to avoid complacency and ensure compliance.

This study is one of the first to examine extent of awareness of and compliance with OSHA’s bloodborne pathogens standard in private dental practices, particularly with respect to having an exposure control plan. This information supports the need for increased continuing education and training on methods to prevent occupational exposure to bloodborne pathogens in dental settings.

MIOSHA Presents Its Prestigious Gold Award to Royalton Manor Skilled Nursing Center

The Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Administration (MIOSHA) recently presented its Consultation, Education, and Training (CET) Gold Award to Royalton Manor, a Ciena Healthcare skilled nursing center in St. Joseph, MI.

“Royalton Manor’s status as a Gold Award recipient speaks to its strong commitment to worker safety and protection,” said MIOSHA Director Bart Pickelman. “MIOSHA is pleased to recognize a team of managers and employees who make the health and safety of its workers a top priority.”

The MIOSHA Consultation Education and Training (CET) Division recognizes the safety and health achievements of Michigan employers and employees through CET Awards, which are based on excellent safety and health performance. The CET Gold Award recognizes an outstanding safety record of two years or more without a lost time accident.

MIOSHA’s CET Division Director Nella Davis-Ray presented the award to Diane Byrd, administrator of Royalton Manor, who accepted on behalf of all employees. Invited guests, management and employees attended the award presentation.

Royalton Manor has an exemplary safety and health record, and has exhibited outstanding leadership in recognizing that a comprehensive safety and health program is critical to successful businesses today. CET Industrial Hygienist Harvey Johnson conducted a hazard survey at the facility. This allowed the employer the opportunity to walk through their facility with a MIOSHA representative and correct problem areas that were noted.

The Gold Award criteria includes:

  • Having an effective Safety and Health Management System (SHMS). MIOSHA staff consulting with Gold awardees, evaluate their SHMS to ensure that key elements are implemented
  • Establishing a safety and health committee, with both employee and management participation
  • Developing an employee training system, with an emphasis on how to do the work in a safe and healthful manner
  • Working diligently to change the workplace culture to reflect the importance of worker safety

“I am very proud of my staff and the continued commitment to the safety of our employees,” said Byrd. “We continue to strive daily to retain a safe work environment for our employees.”

Royalton Manor, a Ciena Healthcare skilled nursing center, is a 123-bed facility that provides short-term rehabilitation and long-term nursing services to the residents of western Michigan and northern Indiana. Ciena Healthcare is the largest privately owned operator of skilled nursing and rehabilitation in Michigan. For more information visit the Ciena Healthcare page or call 248-386-0300.

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