May, 2017

John Lewis is presenting at this year's AIHce Conference in Seattle, Washington

ECOH will be attending this year's AIHce conference in Seattle, Washington, from June 4th to 7th. Come visit us at booth 1216, and listen to John Lewis present.

AIHce 2017 will be running from June 4th to June 7th in Seattle, WA. This event is held for IH&OH professionals who are responsible for safety, health, and the environment of today’s workplaces. As leaders of Occupational Health and Safety, ECOH will not only be attending but is proud to announce that our own Principal & CFO, John Lewis, will be presenting two educational sessions.

John Lewis has more than 25 years of experience dealing in subsurface organic/inorganic contaminant investigation and remediation worldwide. His experience includes site appraisal, site remediation, contaminant hydrogeology, computer modeling, hazardous materials management, and waste management. John has overseen the assessment and remediation of landfills, legacy (brownfield) sites, institutional properties, refineries, and numerous commercial/ institutional sites. John’s pragmatic approach to dealing with contaminant investigations and regulatory issues has made him a leader amongst his peers and a sought after professional with his clients.

Please join us on Monday June 5th at 11:15 am as John presents “Soil Contamination Impacting an Occupied School”.  This session will discuss the case of an unknown oily {discharge} discovered on a school playground that created public outrage. Detailed investigation of the subsurface, air quality sampling, and transparent detailed communication with stakeholders, allowed the school to remain open and for a practical remedial option to be found.

On Tuesday June 6th {&time} John will be presenting "Asbestos City: An Asbestos Contaminated Town." This presentation will discuss the thousands of local inhabitants of Kymore, India (nicknamed Asbestos City) that have been, and are still being, exposed to asbestos. Decades of asbestos manufacturing and waste dumping have created an environmental disaster for the local residents. Friable asbestos debris has been found in their yards, play grounds, farm fields, and even their homes. Education on the effects of asbestos exposure is needed for the community as well as regulators within India in order to protect future generations on this legacy property. 

If you are in the Seattle area, be sure to come to the Washington State Convention Center to listen to these informative and dynamic presentations. While you are there, come visit us at our trade show booth - 1216!

See you in Seattle!


April, 2017

Bio Marker for Asbestos related diseases

Written by: Seema Sharma, MD, MPH

There are two mineralogenic groups of asbestos: serpentine (chrysotile) and amphibole (crocidolite, amosite, anthophyllite, tremolite, and actinolite) each with distinct physical and chemical properties. The carcinogenic potency in context to mesothelioma is crocidolite > amosite > chrysotile.  

About 2.1 of every 100,000 Canadians are diagnosed with the mesothelioma each year.  

Studies have shown that early malignant mesothelioma detection is associated with better response to therapy and yields an average survival of 3 years. However, due to late onset of clinical signs and symptoms, only 5% of mesothelioma cases are detected at an early stage. For such situations, having a sensitive, specific, and a reproducible biological marker would certainly help to identify high-risk individuals, as it is a measurable indicator of a biological state or condition. Biomarker is a biological molecule found in blood, other body fluids, or tissues that is a sign of a normal or abnormal process, or of a condition or disease.

In their report in Mesothelioma Research News, the authors describe that serum levels of HMGB1 (damage-associated molecular pattern protein that is present inside the nucleus of cells) may increase following asbestos exposure and malignant mesothelioma development. The expression of HMGB1 was shown to be significantly higher in people who had been exposed to asbestos as well as those with asbestos-related diseases.  

The authors suggest that HMGB1 may be a suitable blood biomarker to monitor asbestos exposed workers and their families (who have a history of exposure due to workers coming home with asbestos on their clothes and body). 

Although widespread clinical use of HMGB1 as a diagnostic and prognostic indicator would require further validation studies in additional clinical cohorts, the new findings are an exciting and important step forward for the field of cancer diagnostics. The findings provide immediate rationale for clinical testing of the HMGB1 levels as a screening tool for asbestos-exposed individuals and research on therapies that seek to block HMGB1 signaling would likely prove effective in mesothelioma.

 


 
 
 

March, 2017

Protecting Workers Who are Travelling Abroad

Written by: Marianne Levitsky, MES, CIH, ROH, FAIHA

One of the things that can keep an employer up at night is worrying about employees who are travelling overseas, especially in unfamiliar destinations that lack the kind of services that may be available in Canada or the US.  Medical and safety emergencies can happen anywhere, but can be especially dangerous when a traveler is in an unfamiliar location far from the usual sources of help. Part of employers’ responsibilities to protectthe health and safety of their workers includes ensuring safe travels.

Like risk management for any workplace hazards,  managing travel risks is the responsibility of both the worker and his/her employer.  A new code of practice from the British Standards Institution sets out measures employers should take to protect their travelling workers. The code incorporates some of the measures from a Duty of Care document produced by International SOS.

Health and safety protection for travelers involves familiar processes of Risk Assessment, Planning, Preparation, Implementation, and Reporting. Fortunately, there are many sources of help and information for each of these steps. 

I.           Risk Assessment starts with research about the                destination, taking into account the specific                        locations the employee will visit, the nature of                    the work, and transportation/accommodation                    provisions. 

A good place to start researching overseas destinations is the traveler’s own government.  The Government of Canada classifies destinations into the following 4 risk  levels, based on both medical and security risks:

  1.        Exercise normal security precautions
  2.        Exercise a high degree of caution
  3.        Avoid non-essential travel
  4.        Avoid all travel

Some standard insurance policies don’t cover risks in countries designated as levels 3 and 4, and employers should avoid sending employees to such destinations except under unusual circumstances.

The travel advisories issued by the Canadian government, as well as private travel assistance organizations like International SOS and On Call International provide good information on the types of risks faced in each country. Risks to be considered include security, political unrest, road safety, weather disruptions like tsunamis and hurricanes, and medical threats.

II.            Planning

Having conducted the assessment, the traveler and employer should develop a risk mitigation plan.  A good model to follow is the process used by universities to protect students who are studying or conducting research overseas.  The University of Toronto, for example, has a “Safety Planning Record” on which the student and advisor must document the risks and protective measures for each category of hazards.   Planning checklists are also available in the handbook Safety Without Borders and from On Call International.

III.            Preparation

Safe travelling starts well before departure. The following measures taken before the trip will help ensure a safe, productive and enjoyable experience:

  1.      Be up to date on visa and passport requirements.        Ensure that your passport will not expire within 6        months of your return.
  2.      Get the right insurance for the destination.  You          may need an add-on to your regular insurance to        ensure it cover medical or emergency evacuation.      You can comparison shop for insurance and get          more information at                                                          https://www.squaremouth.com/
  3.      Register the trip with your own government, for            example, Canada’s travel registration program or        the US State Department’s STEP program.  
  4.      Get the right vaccinations and medication to take        with you.  See a travel medicine specialist at least      two months before your trip if you don’t know              what you need.  
  5.      Consider using a travel assistance or travel risk            management service.  
  6.      Get appropriate luggage and security gear so you      can protect valuables.  Examples include                      passport/money belts, luggage locks, tracking            devices,  portable door stops and alarms.
  7.      Book accommodation that has verified security            provisions.
  8.      Arrange in advance for a safe driver/ car to take          you from the airport (or other arrival point)  to your      accommodation.
  9.      Make provisions in advance to ensure cell phone        coverage.
  10.      Consider risks related to specific traveler/                    destination combinations – e.g. risks to LGBT              travelers or those of a particular religion. 
  11.      Travelers should take training on risk prevention –      some online courses are available – for example      from www.disasterready.org 
  12.      Travelers should bring essential information with        them:
  •        Passport copies (carried separately from              passport)
  •        Emergency contact
  •        Itinerary
  •        Drug and eyeglass prescriptions
  •        Government embassy or contact in travel            location

    13.     Designate contact(s) in the employer organization              who will not be traveling, and ensure they will be                available to the traveler in an emergency and have              critical information related to the traveler and the                trip, i.e.

  •        Passport number
  •        Itinerary
  •        Contact information while traveling
  •        Emergency contact

IV.            While traveling

  1.      Stay in touch with the designated contact in your        employer organization.  Advise him/her of any            changes in travel plans,  itinerary or contact                  information.
  2.      Stay alert in unfamiliar locations and don’t                     broadcast the fact that you are a traveler – for              example, don’t walk around with your attention on      a map or display expensive belongings.
  3.      Keep valuables in places where they are hard to          get to, for example a money/passport belt.  Carry        packs and purses in a manner that protects them        from theft.
  4.      Depending on how secure your accommodations        are, use a portable doorstop/alarm.
  5.      If you have an emergency or a health problem, call      your insurer immediately – if possible before you        arrange any health care.

Being prepared for travel risks can help make sure travelers have an enjoyable, productive trip and come home safely.  


 

August, 2016

ECOH is Growing! 

We are proud to announce Arianne and Harpreet have joined our team as environmental scientists and Mario has joined our team as an occupational hygienist. Welcome Mario, Arianne and Harpreet! 


 

July, 2016

Note From the President

Thank you for visiting ECOH’s new website!

There has never been a more exciting, nor challenging, time of change and evolution in communications and social media.  In this era of rapid change, ECOH too is in the midst of transformation; increasingly becoming a more digitally oriented company positioned for the future.

We have many strengths across our operations but none is greater or more critical than the talented, committed and passionate people at all levels of our company.  The willingness of our staff to weather challenges and their passion to build ECOH for the future never ceases to amaze me. 

Our new website is yet another example of all that is great about ECOH – a synergistic team of technical experts and creative talents, engaged with the ECOH culture and with one another.  I am proud to say that this new website was designed and constructed in-house, with various levels of involvement from almost all ECOHites.  Most of the photographs are original works, submitted by staff via our internal photo contest and the web-page design is the result of painstaking research and trial and error by our very own Marketing and Business Development team.

I want to take this opportunity, on behalf of all ECOHites, to thank you, our loyal clients, for helping ECOH to succeed. 

Rest assured - while our look has changed - our commitment to the level of quality and service that you have come to expect remains the same.


 

February, 2016

Upcoming Infection Prevention & Construction Control Training

ECOH will be hosting a training program on Infection Prevention & Construction Control on Friday, March 4th.  The training program offered by ECOH will provide a general awareness of the environmental factors that contribute towards generation and spread of infectious pathogens, their biology and health effects, and outline of construction related precautions required to minimize risk for both workers and building occupants.  If you are interested in attending this training program, please contact Catherine Mills (Manager, Business Development) at cmills@ecoh.ca for a quote.