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The oil industry has always been one which, to put it mildly, has been prone to risks and hazards. Even the most cursory of online searches will reveal countless industry disasters and sobering statistics. Whether it be onshore or offshore, oil production traditionally has been fraught with danger.

Over the past decade or so, however, things have begun to change. More stringent regulations have been introduced, more accountable and transparent legal frameworks have been put in place, and significant technological advancements have been made. All of which sees the industry in the safest position it’s ever been.

There’s no room for complacency, however. After all, the Deep-water Horizon disaster was only 10 years ago and while annual fatalities are indeed showing a downward trend, those are lives lost, not just some statistics. With that in mind, let’s look at how the industry is making proactive steps towards a safer future.

1. Drones

One of the greatest additions made to the oil industry over the past few years has been the advancement and implementation of drone technologies. Whether fixed-wing or rotary-based, these now relatively commonplace aerial vehicles have a wide range of applications within the sector. From surveillance through to routine inspection work, their efficacy is perhaps most demonstrable in terms of safety improvements.

Their benefits in this regard are two-fold. First, they’re used for the predictive maintenance of critical rig infrastructure, meaning that problems can be spotted before they become problems. This invariably helps the development of various hazards, from explosion risks to general machinery wear and tear (which, if left unchecked, can lead to serious personal injury).

Second, they’re being used for the more dangerous inspection processes: the examination of flare towers, for instance, or confined storage spaces. These highly versatile drones can be fitted with a whole host of different sensors (including ultrasonic, thermal and LiDar, as well as high-resolution photographic cameras), meaning that the “picture” they paint is as comprehensive, if not more so, than that which a manual inspection could provide, with the added benefit of not having to put workers in potentially hazardous situations.

2. Education

While perhaps not as eye-catching as state-of-the-art drone technology, there’s no getting around the fact that better industry education can (and does) save lives within the sector. This means education across all facets of the industry—from extraction through to logistics and delivery.

Let’s first look at the dangers posed by driving fatigued. Drivers transporting oil must cover huge stretches of terrain on a regular basis, expanses of road which may offer little variety, and be quiet for long periods. The monotony of such drives (when paired with the objectively large distances) places drivers at real risk of falling asleep at the wheel. If not that, then they certainly run the risk of having their awareness/judgment impaired by their weariness.

Better education is one of the best ways in which drivers may be better protected against the dangers of driving tired. Even a basic awareness of the importance of adequate rest (and the risks associated with a lack thereof) can have a big positive impact, whether it be full-blown training courses, fact sheets or something in between.

Moreover, the better-informed industry workers are, the less likely they are to cut corners. Traditionally, the oil sector was one in which workers played somewhat fast and loose when it came to rules and regulations. It is perhaps unsurprising, therefore, that over the years the industry has had as tumultuous a relationship with safety as it has.

3. The Internet of Things and GPS

The oil industry can be a lonely place at times, one in which working remotely, and alone, is by no means uncommon. Should lone workers have an accident while they’re working on a pump jack, let’s say, then there’s every chance nobody would know about it; at its worst, this can lead to fatalities. Recently, the have been large advances in the Internet of Things (IoT)—a term used to describe not just the internet, but anything that could conceivably connect with it: wearable tech and smart home sensors, for instance, but also connecting entire environments and large-scale processes.

What this means for the oil industry, from a safety perspective, is that near real-time GPS data is now becoming a reality. And what that means is that accurate data pertaining to a lone worker’s positioning is much more readily available, and much more accurate. Not only that, but other data can be communicated to a worker’s safety manager, such as physiological metrics; for example, their heart-rate being detected by a smartwatch. So, should anything go wrong, or seem out of the ordinary, the worker can be reached as quickly and accurately as possible. So, though these remote workers may often be in pretty much as isolated a location as is possible, they’re now arguably more connected than ever before.

4. PPE and Testing Equipment

Recent events have brought the importance of personal protective equipment (PPE) into a keener focus. However, PPE serves a wider purpose than solely in the protection against global viruses (crucial though that is). The oil industry employs a plethora of different protective equipment to better protect its workers, ranging from the basic ear and eye protection, to more heavy-duty flame-resistant clothing.

A particular industry hazard is the threat posed by hydrogen sulfide. This highly toxic, fast-acting gas can cause symptoms ranging from headaches and nausea, all the way through to death upon high levels of exposure. To combat this, many rig and well workers are given, and trained on the use of, portable hydrogen sulfide monitors, so that they can regularly test the gas level.

5. Robotics

Undisputedly the coolest of the lot, developments in the field of robotics has seen it progressively make more of a mark within the industry, over the past decade or so. You need only look at the ARGOS Challenge, run by Total S.A. between 2013 and 2017, to see how excited leading industry players are by these machines. The potential applications of robotics brought to light by the ARGOS (which stands for Autonomous Robot for Oil and Gas Sites) challenge are manifold.

Particular interest is being paid to how robotics may improve standards of industry health and safety, both onshore and offshore. Robots such as the ARGOS, and more recent counterparts such as the ANYmal, have been designed to work in harsh and severe environments, as well as potentially explosive environments. It’s been programmed to carry out inspection tasks (in a similar way to drones).

It’s clear, then, that improvements are indeed being made. Encouraging though this may be, the one thing the industry cannot do is rest on its laurels. Until there are consistently no deaths, year-on-year, then the oil industry has significant work to do. Whether this be in terms of technology, education or more rigorous legislation, there’s always room for innovation when it comes to protecting people. While danger will never entirely be mitigated from the industry—as there’s always going to be an element of risk when working with heavy machinery—it can be removed as much as possible.


COVID-19 was declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization (“WHO”) on March 11, 2020. Many Canadian provinces, including Ontario, declared a state of emergency under the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act (“EMCPA”) on March 17, 2020. The federal government did not invoke its emergency management legislation. The COVID-19 pandemic has been highly disruptive of socio-economic activity in Canada, and around the world. This has given rise to governance and leadership challenges, and decisions regarding the state of the workplace, and exposure to workers, as well as clients/customers/patients in many businesses, workplaces and organizations across Canada. COVID-19 has also raised a number of questions about emergency preparedness, business continuity, and pandemic planning by governance experts and Boards of Directors (“Board(s)”) of public and private corporations and organizations.

Construction companies have a number of risks associated with COVID-19 pandemic. The pandemic has also taken a toll on the provincial and federal economies and the gross domestic product. Canada is now and for the foreseeable future resulted in an economic recession. The pandemic has been, and continues to be a difficult challenge for public health, political and policy decision makers as well as the Boards of organizations.

A central concern for many Boards and Chief Executive Officers (“CEOs”) has been the risk of potential legal liability for their organizations, individuals and them personally. This article will focus on the latter and, in particular, the legal exposure of Directors and Officers (“”D&O”) to personal legal liability arising from an employee or worker (“worker”), customer, client or patient (“3rd Parties”) from becoming infected by COVID-19 arising out of or in the course of employment and in connection with the business or the workplace.

This article will deal with three specific areas of potential legal liability of D&O; civil, regulatory, and criminal liability. The first is primarily based on the standard of care for D&Os set and enforced by Canadian courts in civil actions; the second is based on the standards set by public and occupational health and safety statutes for D&Os; third, and lastly, is the criminal law standards, set under the Westray Bill amendments to the Criminal Code (known as the “Westray Bill”). Finally, the article will provide some guidance on legal risk mitigation for D&Os.

Civil Liability

Civil liability in Anglo-Canadian law is based on the legal theories of contract, tort and other equitable remedies. The primary risk for D&O related to COVID-19 exposure in the workplace is on the unintentional tort of negligence. A civil claim for negligence must establish a duty, breach of duty and damages. There is a general legal duty of care on organizations and their D&Os to provide a safe workplace for workers and 3rd Parties.

Organizations and D&O have these obligations under common law negligence duty of care, jurisprudence, public and occupational health & safety statutes and regulations. The latter generally focuses on worker safety, but by implication also applies to 3rd Parties who have visited or have other contact with the workplace.

In the SARS epidemic of 2003, nurses in Ontario treating patients with SARS became infected and died. 53 nurses and their families commenced a class action against the Province of Ontario, and other provincial governmental bodies and officials, alleging a breach of a legal duty of care owed to those nurses. In subsequent litigation challenging the legality of the class action, the Court of Appeal for Ontario held in Abarquez v. Ontario1 that there was no relationship of proximity between them and the residents of Ontario sufficient to give rise to a private legal duty of care that may result in a negligence civil action.

To succeed in a civil action there must be clear, convincing and compelling evidence, on a balance of probabilities, to support the claim for damages against D&O for a worker or a 3rd Party to allege that they have been infected and suffered harm and loss from a COVID-19 exposure arising out of or at the business location for which the D&O have a duty of care.

Civil liability related to workers who suffer injury, illness or death arising out of or in the course of employment from COVID-19 is governed by either workers’ compensation legislation or the civil court system. The former provides workplace health & safety insurance for the vast majority of workers in Canada Such legislation provides a bar to civil lawsuits against employers and D&Os. The latter gives a minority of workers and most 3rd Parties the right to sue in court on the basis of the tort law theory.

In Ontario, for example, the Workplace Safety and Insurance Act (“WSIA”)2, provides for a no-fault system of compensation for workers, and their dependents for an accident, injury, and illness arising out of and in the course of employment. This applies to an exposure to COVID-19 that gives rise to an occupational illness or death. The historic trade off in workers’ compensation legislation in Canada, and around the world, is that the worker and their dependents gave up their right to commencing a civil action against the employer and co-employees in exchange for prescribed compensation of “no-fault” benefits. Therefore, where workers’ compensation legislation applies there is no right to sue an employer or D&Os arising out a worker contracting COVID-19 in the workplace.3

The other legal risk for D&O exposure to COVID-19 civil liability lies with workers and workplaces not covered by workers’ compensation legislation and non-worker 3rd Parties. When a customer, client, or patient is infected by the COVID-19 virus as a result of exposure to the business/workplace, it may be argued that D&Os breached their duty of care towards such workers and 3rd Parties by failing to follow public or occupational health and safety legislation, regulations or standards related to COVID-19 risk management. Whether the workplace is a retail grocery store, a hospital, or golf course, such risk of legal exposure exists for D&Os.

When determining whether or not the D&Os have satisfied their duty of care, the Supreme Court has said that perfection is not demanded of D&Os. The Court said it will not consider that directors and officers have breached their duty of care if they acted prudently and on a reasonably informed basis. If the decisions taken are reasonable business decisions in light of what they knew or ought to have known, then the “business judgment rule” answer and defence may be invoked and the courts will not be expected to intervene.4

A risk mitigation answer for D&O legal risk in this regard relating to 3rd Party claims for COVID-19 illness is corporate and D&O insurance. Insurance will normally cover such exposure to allegations that D&Os have failed to meet a generally accepted standard of care in dealing with infectious disease during a pandemic other public health guidance has been followed, and whether an OHS contravention has taken place amounting to a potential statutory tort. All of these risk factors are very case specific. However, insurance may be obtained, and should be reviewed, to determine the coverage and protection of D&Os from third party claims arising from civil actions.


In a Bureau of Labor and Statistics (BLS) study, 72% of workers injured in scaffold accidents attributed the accident either to the planking or support giving way, or to the employee slipping or being struck by a falling object. Scaffolds are integral to the construction industry with approximately 65% of the workforce involved in work from scaffolds. When used properly, scaffolds can save significant time and money. Though they are convenient and necessary, there are four major hazards associated with worker injuries that everyone needs to be aware for proper scaffold safety.

4 Major Hazards: Scaffold Safety

1. Falls

Falls are attributed to the lack of guardrails, improper installation of guardrails and failure to use personal fall arrest systems when required. The OSHA standard requires fall protection must be used when work heights reach 10’ or more. OSHA’s standards represent the minimum level of protection; many general contractors require 100% fall protection at 6’ or greater when working on scaffolds. These contractors are increasing safety margins by exceeding the minimum requirements of the OSHA standards.

Lack of proper access to the scaffold work platform is an additional reason for falls from scaffolds. Access in the form of a secured ladder, stair tower, ramp, etc. is required whenever there is 24” vertical change to an upper or lower level. The means of access must be determined before erection of the scaffold and employees are never allowed to climb on cross braces for either vertical or horizontal movement.

2. Scaffold collapse

The proper erection of a scaffold is essential in preventing this particular hazard. Before erecting the scaffold, a number of factors must be accounted for. The amount of weight the scaffold will be required to hold including the weight of the scaffold itself, materials, and workers must be considered. Foundation stability, placement of scaffold planks, distance from the scaffold to the work surface, and tie-in requirements are just a few of the other items that must be considered prior to building a scaffold.

Scaffold Competent Person

A knowledgeable individual who can perform preplanning will reduce the chances of injury and save money for any task. However, when building, moving, or dismantling a scaffold, a knowledgeable person, also known as the scaffold competent person, must be present. A competent person must also inspect the scaffold daily to ensure the structure remains in a safe condition. Improper construction can lead to a total collapse of the scaffold or falling components – both of which can be fatal.

3. Struck by falling materials

Workers on scaffolds are not the only ones exposed to scaffold related hazards. Many individuals have been injured or killed due to being struck by materials or tools that have fallen from scaffold platforms. These people must be protected from falling objects. OSHA requires that this is done one of two ways. The first is to install toe boards or netting on work platforms to prevent these items from falling to the ground or lower level work areas. The other option is to erect barricades that physically prevent individuals from walking under work platforms.

Caution or Danger tape is often used in an attempt to keep people away from overhead hazards but is often disregarded or taken down creating possible struck by hazards. A more robust system such as plastic mesh or wooden barricades is generally more effective and much easier to maintain. When members of the public could potentially move close enough to be struck by falling objects, creating barriers to prevent them from entering the area where objects can fall is a recognized best practice. Regardless of the type of falling object protection used, it is crucial that other individuals on the work site are aware of the overhead work.

4. Electrocution

Once again we look to preplanning and the competent person to assure there are no electrical hazards present during scaffold use. A minimum of 10’ must be maintained between the scaffold and electrical hazards. If this distance cannot be maintained, then the hazard must be de-energized or properly insulated by the power company. Coordination between the power company and the company erecting / using the scaffold cannot be over stated.

Lastly, all employees who work on scaffolds must have documented training. The training topics must include identification and prevention of fall hazards, falling tools and materials hazards, and knowledge of electrical hazards.

Key Takeaways:

● Fall protection is required when work heights reach 10 feet or more.
● Provide proper access to the scaffold and never allow employees to climb on cross braces for horizontal or vertical movement.
● The scaffold competent person must be present when building, moving or dismantling the scaffold and must inspect it daily.
● Erect barricades to prevent individuals from walking under work platforms and place signs to warn those close by of the possible hazards.
● Maintain a minimum of 10 feet between the scaffold and any electrical hazard.
● Ensure all employees working on scaffolding have had proper training.
● Scaffold safety starts from the ground up. Only safe work conditions and actions will prevent unnecessary injuries when working on these ever changing structures.


On August 18, the National Safety Council (NSC) predicted that coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) may become the third leading cause of death in the United States for 2020, behind only heart disease and cancer. In 2018, the most recent year of final fatality data, the third leading cause of death was preventable deaths from drug overdoses, motor vehicle crashes, and falls.

The number of deaths from COVID-19 this year already has surpassed the number of preventable deaths in calendar year 2018. COVID-19 is a respiratory illness caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus. COVID-19 currently is widespread in most U.S. communities and considered a workplace hazard.

The number of deaths in the U.S. from confirmed and probable cases of COVID-19 now exceeds 170,000. There were 167,127 deaths from preventable causes in 2018.

An indirect consequence of the COVID-19 pandemic may be increases in opioid overdoses and the rate of motor vehicle fatality, according to the NSC. The American Medical Association has reported increases in opioid-related mortality in more than 40 states during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Overdose deaths already were increasing. The NSC noted that preliminary data out of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) show that overdose deaths set records in 2019, rising by 4.8% to a total of 70,980, with 50,042 of those deaths due to opioid overdoses.

Despite a decrease in driving during the pandemic and an 8% decrease in deaths from motor vehicle crashes, the mileage death rate per 100 million vehicle miles driven for May 2020 was 1.47 compared with 1.19 in 2019, according to the NSC.

The NSC reiterated its position that employers reopening their facilities mustensure their employees are returning safely. The NSC established a reopening framework based on recommendations of its Safe Actions for Employee Returns (SAFER) task force, a group that included the American Industrial Hygiene Association (AIHA) and American Society of Safety Professionals (ASSP).

The NSC’s recommendations for employers included screening employees for symptoms at the start of work shifts, testing for COVID-19 infections, and cooperating with public health authorities performing contact tracing. The group even suggested that employers encourage their employees to use contact tracing apps like COVID-19 Watch, CoEpi, and Private Kit: Safe Paths on their mobile devices.

Employers should be especially mindful of risks to older employees and employees with chronic health conditions, who may have severe illnesses due to COVID-19 infection, the NSC said. The group also warned employers they may need to adapt to future restrictions, including cities, counties, and states that reimpose stay-at-home orders or issue other restrictions on operations if the spread of COVID-19 remains uncontrolled.

The NSC also urged states’ governors to develop consistent testing and contact tracing protocols. A letter from the NSC and a coalition that included several state safety councils called on the governors of all 50 states to make effective testing and contact tracing protocols a top focus as state stay-at-home orders expire and workplaces reopen. The NSC emphasized the importance of testing and contact tracing because 80% of individuals infected with COVID-19 are asymptomatic or have mild symptoms.


The CDC and other government organizations have long since recommended employers and employees frequently wash their hands, and if a hand washing station is not readily available, use hand sanitizer to minimize the risk of spreading or contracting the coronavirus. Now, the FDA is warning people that the hand sanitizer they might be using could be detrimental to their health.

Back in July, the FDA released a press release on dangerous alcohol-based hand sanitizers containing methanol. Since then the agency has been hard at work providing a testing method to assess the quality of hand sanitizer products for impurities and putting together a table including all the manufacturers who have produced hand sanitizers not fit for killing germs and might even contain ingredients that are harmful to those who use it.

The FDA regulates hand sanitizer as an over-the-counter drug, available without a prescription. The agency often tests hand sanitizers for quality because it is a product they regulate. Throughout testing new products on the market, the FDA discovered series safety concerns with some hand sanitizers, including:

■ Contamination with potentially toxic types of alcohol
■ Not enough active ingredient (ethyl alcohol or isopropyl alcohol)
■ Labels with false, misleading or unproven claims

Before you buy hand sanitizer for your company, the FDA recommends checking their do-not-use list first. The list has been regularly updated as new test results are released.


Reopening and maintenance of plant and facilities operations can be safely achieved with proper resiliency planning aligned to business requirements and drivers, and a high degree of management and health and safety measures. This creates an environment to operate where employees, customers and visitors feel safe, comfortable and confident returning to work.

The establishment of temporary (or long-term) screening measures and diversions to meet social distancing requirements, that are monitored and managed digitally and aligned to business requirements, coupled with robust communication and education campaigns, are a cornerstone of creating and reinforcing trust with all stakeholders as part of the overall response to COVID-19.

1. Facility audits and production priorities. Determine sites and facilities to be re-opened and desired business and production levels and activities. Work with clients to set priorities. Perform an audit to understand demand conditions and site criticality to assess operation continuity. Rank by business criticality, safety considerations and site conditions.

2. Health and safety facility guidelines. Determine public health and governmental guidelines during COVID-19 business activities. Understand and define safety guidelines for the facility and ensure that all government guidelines are incorporated. Conduct an assessment as to what is currently in place versus what is required and then plan to close the gap. For example, secure Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), and consider the availability of future stock and potential for supply chain disruption that could occur during an increased risk level.

3. Employee health and safety policies. Develop a site-specific employee safety plan with policies and protocols for health screening, social distancing and contact tracing. Conduct and document health risk assessment and develop appropriate PPE guidelines. Importantly, modelling of worker movement will be critical to ensuring social distancing requirements tied to the specifics of the selected sites and facilities. These policies and processes should be constantly reviewed, and part of a continuous improvement strategy based on actual performance.

4. Facility safety plan, including scenario planning.Develop a playbook or at a minimum, a risk framework that summarize the facility safety plan by critical component by various risk level. Include the activities to be employed going from a smaller to an elevated risk level. Secure input from your stakeholders, which could include employees, unions, regulatory agencies, public health officials, contracted services, legal and risk. Test operating plan in lower risk facility to identify any gaps and modify plan, continue to evolve and update as more facilities become operational.

5 Safely planning and monitoring. Evaluate the efficacy of the plan through scenario planning is critical. This should include all aspects of your operation. Are workers following the policy and procedures? Has there been a loss of productivity? How are workers overall wellness – including physical and emotional levels? Are you able to effectively respond to infections, trace contact and minimize impacts during rapid increases in infections? 6. Health screening and contact tracing. Health screening and tracing contact of workers is critical to reducing the spread of COVID-19. Minimizing the insertion of impact to critical operations that may be identified through either passive or aggressive wellness checks, including fever and elevated temperature assessments, is necessary. Consideration of the logistics of successfully performing the task is essential. If impacts are identified, performance of contact tracing to identify infrastructure and personnel exposed is fundamental to the control of the infection.

7. Social/physical distancing programs. Having the appropriate expertise, technology and data science to track, model, plan and implement effective social distancing in facility and manufacturing settings is critical. Evaluate plant floor layout and working patterns of facilities that can safely accommodate people flow and contact interaction. This will lead to better health, safety and industrial hygiene protocols.

8. Cleaning, disinfecting and decontamination. It is important to respond to possible impacts and the needed prevention to identify and clean needed infrastructure while maintaining manufacturing flow, worker confidence and product integrity.

9. HVAC systems. Infectious aersols can pose a high exposure risk, regardless of whether COVID is defined as airborne infectious disease. Evaluate and improve the design and operations of heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems and local exhaust ventilation (LEV) systems to decrease the transmission. Evaluate and develop strategies to minimize transmissions through ventilation systems including Dilution and extraction ventilation, pressurization, airflow distribution and optimization, mechanical filtration, ultraviolet germicidal irradiation and humidity control.

10. Robust communications and stakeholder engagement. Timely, consistent, and targeted communication and engagement is critical to the successful deployment of any significant operations change. This should clearly articulate how a facility is going to operate but also be clear how workers, customers and other stakeholders should behave. Given the personal nature of health screening and the fear associated with the COVID-19 virus, a comprehensive communications and engagement program is imperative.


Social distancing must be maintained amid the COVID-19 pandemic, even when conducting a fire drill, according to the Calgary Fire Department in Alberta.

“During the pandemic, it would be acceptable for fire drills to be conducted with supervisory personnel present, taking into consideration social distancing to complete any fire warden training which may include an evacuation table top exercise,” said the department in a memo released addressing their expectations amid the pandemic.

However, “if the company or organization cannot ensure social distancing an additional option would be to complete online training as developed by the company or organization and to ensure that records are kept regarding details of training and personnel involved,” the memo continued.

Also, any fire drills or warden training that fall under any other portion of the National Fire Code (Alberta Edition) can be conducted in the same manner as long as personnel are following the guidelines as set out by Alberta Health – COVID relaunch strategy.

The department noted that the memo was released to address questions raised about fire drills, their frequency and the expectations from the local authority having jurisdiction.

Fire code

Under the said fire code, the procedure for conducting fire drills shall be determined by the person in responsible charge of the building, taking into consideration the following:

● the building occupancy and its fire hazards

● the safety features provided in the building

● the desirable degree of participation of occupants other than supervisory staff

● the number and degree of experience of participating supervisory staff

● the features of fire emergency systems installed in buildings within the scope of subsection 3.2.6. of Division B of the NBC(AE)

● the requirements of the fire department


“A fire safety plan is of little value if it is not reviewed periodically so that all supervisory staff remain familiar with their responsibilities,” according to the code. “A fire drill, then, is at least a review of the fire safety plan by supervisory staff. The extent to which non-supervisory staff participate in a fire drill should be worked out in cooperation with the fire department. The decision as to whether all occupants should leave the building during a fire drill should be based on the nature of the occupancy.”

The code indicated that it may be necessary to hold additional fire drills outside normal working hours for the benefit of employees on afternoon or night shifts, as they “should be as familiar with fire drill procedures as those who work during the day”.

If full-scale fire drills are not possible during non-regular working hours, arrangements should be made so that night-shift supervisory staff can participate in fire drills conducted during the daytime.

Under the code, fire drills shall be held at intervals not greater than 12 months for the supervisory staff, but there are some exceptions:

● in day-care centers and in Group B major occupancies, such drills shall be held at intervals not greater than one month

● in schools attended by children, total evacuation fire drills shall be held at least three times in each of the fall and spring school terms

● in buildings within the scope of Subsection 3.2.6. of Division B of the NBC(AE), such drills shall be held at intervals not greater than two months.

● in laboratories, it shall be held at intervals not greater than three months


A best practice to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and other viral respiratory infections is routinely cleaning and disinfecting/sanitizing surfaces, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says.

That’s because recent studies have found that SARS-CoV-2 – the coronavirus that causes COVID-19 – can remain viable for hours to days on surfaces made from a variety of materials. To effectively remove and eliminate the virus, however, workers need to understand that the terms “cleaning” and “disinfecting/sanitizing” aren’t interchangeable, NIOSH Director John Howard pointed out during a March 31 webinar hosted by the National Safety Council in conjunction with the agency.

“Cleaning is getting the dirt out,” Howard said. “Sanitizing is what’s used in public health a lot to get down to a certain level of bacteria – sometimes 95% is killed. Disinfection is killing everything. That’s where you want to aim.”

CDC’s explanation goes a step further:
Cleaning refers to the removal of germs, dirt and impurities from surfaces. It doesn’t kill germs, but by removing them, it lowers their numbers and the risk of spreading infection.
Disinfecting/sanitizing refers to using chemicals (e.g., Environmental Protection Agency-registered disinfectants) to kill germs on surfaces. This process doesn’t necessarily clean dirty surfaces or remove germs, but by killing germs on a surface after cleaning, it can further lower the risk of spreading infection.
Sterilization describes a process of destroying or eliminating all forms of microbial life and is carried out in health care facilities by physical or chemical methods.

Among CDC’s tips to clean and disinfect surfaces:

● Wear disposable gloves.

● Clean surfaces using soap and water, then use a disinfectant.

● When using EPA-registered disinfectants, follow the instructions on the label to ensure safe and effective use of the product.

● More frequent cleaning and disinfection may be required based on level of use.

● Surfaces and objects in public places (e.g., shopping carts and point-of-sale keypads) should be cleaned and disinfected before each use.


Nieuwegein, The Netherlands — On-the-job exposure to silica, beryllium and certain other metals may be linked to the inflammatory disease sarcoidosis, results of a recent study led by Dutch researchers suggest.

For people who have sarcoidosis, inflammatory cells collect and grow in parts of the body – typically the lungs and lymph nodes – and can potentially damage organs. The cause of the disease isn’t known, “but experts think it results from the body’s immune system responding to an unknown substance,” the Mayo Clinic states. No cure for the disease exists, but treatments are available. In certain instances, sarcoidosis clears up on its own.

For the study, the researchers assessed the potential exposures to silica, beryllium, aluminum and zirconium among 256 sarcoidosis patients and 73 control patients who had obstructive sleep apnea, using the results of a questionnaire on work history. Patients with OSA were used as controls because “there is no relationship between environmental triggers and development of OSA.”

Results show that the sarcoidosis patients had a higher percentage of workplace exposure to silica or the other metals – 32.4% (or 83 out of 256), compared with the control group’s 24.7%. After the researchers examined the immune system reactions to silica and the other metals in 33 sarcoidosis patients and 19 control patients using a lymphocyte proliferation test, more than 21% of the former group showed reactions to the materials compared with none of the latter group.


Although most facilities or homes will not store chemicals in massive quantities, improperly storing even a small amount of volatile chemicals can cause injury and even worse, death.

The massive explosion in Beirut on Aug. 4, 2020, occurred due to the improper storage of chemicals. About 2,750 tons of ammonium nitrate was stored at the port for six years without preventive measures. The explosion killed 135 people, injured 5,000 people, and will most likely cost around $15 billion in economic losses. Needless to say, properly storing the ammonium nitrate would have saved many lives.

Although most facilities or homes will not store chemicals in massive quantities, improperly storing even a small amount of volatile chemicals can cause injury and even worse, death.

Flammable Versus Combustible

The difference between a flammable and combustible chemical is based on flashpoints, the lowest temperature at which hazardous materials will generate vapors and ignite if exposed to an ignition source.

Flashpoints vary from chemical to chemical. OSHA classifies flashpoints below 100°F (37.8°C) as flammable. Combustible liquids have a flashpoint at or above 100°F (37.8°C) and below 200°F (93.3°C). Flammable and combustible chemicals are present in almost every workplace and home. Knowing how to properly store these chemicals will prevent accidents and injuries.

Avoid Common Mistakes

Most accidents with flammable chemicals happen due to ignorance and complacency. According to a study conducted by the National Fire and Protection Association, flammable or combustible liquid fires result in an estimated 454 civilian deaths, 3,910 civilian injuries, and $1.5 billion in direct property damage per year. Properly storing flammable chemicals is the first step to avoid costly damage and injuries.

Here are three common mistakes to avoid:

Using the Right Storage Container

To save money, some people may opt to store unused chemicals in their original packaging. This may be fine for small amounts of chemicals that will be used in the short term. However, any chemical that will be stored for an extended period should be put in containers designed to hold flammable chemicals.

Use only approved safety containers. The most widely used containers are portable safety cans. They are available in different shapes and capacities. They are made from metal or very low conductivity plastic. These cans have additional features such as spring-mounted spout caps that automatically open when the vapor pressure builds up inside. The spout caps also close automatically when you finish filling or pouring from the safety can, or if the can is dropped.

Labeling the Containers

Regardless of the size of your facility or household, proper labeling of stored chemicals is extremely important. Some chemicals are clear and odorless and can be mistaken for nonhazardous materials. Use a standard label format with the name of the chemical, the date it was stored, and other Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDSs) information included.

Having a Fire Prevention Plan

Accidents will happen and prevention is the best way to prevent a catastrophe. There are two ways to help minimize the possibility of a chemical fire spreading through your facility or home: a spill containment system and fire-resistant storage units.

● Spill containment involves chemicals and other hazardous materials contained within a barrier or drainage system rather than being absorbed at the surface. These systems will prevent the chemical from spreading to a larger area in the event of a spill.

● Fire-resistant storage units have special fire retardant composites in their construction plus heat triggered auto-closing and self-latching doors with vent seals. The cabinets provide a safe and convenient means to store containers of flammable liquids.

Having both of these safety storage precautions will significantly reduce the probability of injury if an accident occurs.

Flammable chemicals are part of daily life. Properly storing them just takes a little bit of planning and effort. Making sure you are up to date with compliance standards will ensure you are storing your chemicals is the safest manner possible.



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