Summer 2020 Newsletter

Important O.Reg 833 Updates

Updates have been made to O. Reg. 833 which came into force on January 1, 2019. These include several sections (S. 9 “ 13) regarding the requirement for a respiratory protection program. These sections focus on the written procedure for the selection, care and use of respirators, and the training and fit testing of workers. Airzone can assist in understanding and evaluating the need for a respirator protection program by conducting air monitoring to determine exposure levels within facilities. We can also assist with fit-testing to ensure that selected respirators are suitable.

Returning to Work Amid the COVID-19 Pandemic

Useful links containing information about return to work recommendations are included in the links below:

  • American Industrial Hygiene Association  This site features expert, industry-specific guidance for both businesses and consumers to safely re-open and re-engage as they emerge from the COVID-19 quarantines
  • Government of Ontario – Preventing COVID-19 in the workplace.

Ontario has safety guidelines to protect workers, customers and the general public from COVID-19 as it prepares for a gradual reopening of the provincial economy.

Is my COVID-19 Face Covering Protecting Me from Chemical and Dust Exposure while at Work?

During the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, and to a lesser extent even currently, numerous restrictions were placed on people and businesses regarding close contact. Production at some facilities slowed or ceased while others had no impact to business as they were considered essential. However, even though COVID is causing this disruption, the health and safety of workers must still be maintained. Worker exposure to chemical and physical agents is still a concern in the age of COVID and the face coverings used to protect from the virus are not suitable for other purposes and should not be considered as replacement for appropriate PPE or ventilation to mitigate respiratory hazards from normal working conditions. Airzone can assist with assessments of worker exposures. We can conduct a virtual walkthrough of your facility to highlight problematic areas with processes which may expose workers to chemical and physical agents above permissible limits. Our walk through will help develop a robust sampling plan to properly evaluate worker exposures. During on-site assessments, our COVID-19 protection protocols will be utilized to ensure that we reduce risks of virus spread.

Office Indoor Air Quality During COVID-19

Airzone One provides indoor air quality monitoring services for offices whether located within large multi-story buildings or smaller single storey free standing structures. Basic IAQ assessments can include measurement of comfort parameters (temperature and relative humidity), carbon dioxide, and carbon monoxide. These parameters help identify ventilation efficacy and whether occupants will express complaints due to these parameters being outside of normal ranges. Other parameters such as volatile organic compounds (VOCs), formaldehyde, and dust can be included to undertake a thorough assessment. Inclusion of chemical and physical agents may be necessary when complaints of poor air quality arise. VOCs in particular may cause irritation indoors due to increased use of hand sanitizer during the COVID-19 pandemic. Permissible levels of isopropyl alcohol and ethanol, the primary ingredients in hand sanitizer, have high limits. However, individual perception of odours can cause concern among some. To allay the fear that these odours may cause, we can perform air sampling and analysis to provide insight into the safety of chemicals in the air.

Laboratory Accreditation in Canada for Occupational Hygiene Samples

Airzone Ones in house laboratory is accredited to the ISO 17025:2017 standard by the Canadian Analytical Laboratory Accreditation Inc. or CALA. The laboratory undergoes a rigorous assessment every 2 years to ensure its competency and adherence to the ISO standard and semi-annual proficiency testing. The laboratory specializes in volatile organic compound (VOC) and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon (PAH) analysis, as well as particulate matter determination. Of special importance to note is that CALA is a signatory of the International Laboratory Accreditation Cooperation (ILAC). Accreditation bodies around the world, which have been evaluated by peers as competent, have signed an arrangement that enhances the acceptance of services across national borders. The purpose of this arrangement, the ILAC Mutual Recognition Arrangement (MRA – often referred to as the ILAC Arrangement) is to create an international framework to support international trade through the removal of technical barriers. A link is provided to the ILAC website.

The Ministry of Labour has no specific legislated requirement to use one laboratory over another whether they are accredited or not. There is certainly no requirement to use a laboratory which has AIHA (American Industrial Hygiene Association) accreditation to the 17025:2017 standard versus one that is CALA accredited. Both organisations are signatories to ILAC and recognize each others accreditation status. Airzone would be pleased to assist with the sampling and analysis for your industrial hygiene projects. Our Certified Industrial Hygienist (CIH) can also assist with on-site assessments or review of sampling programs and reports.

Are you Compliant During COVID-19?

In the wake of Covid-19 some facilities are shifting their production to supply PPE or other products that demand has increased for during the pandemic. Facilities should evaluate these changes to determine if they have an impact on their existing Environmental Compliance Approval (ECA) or Environmental Activity and Sector Registry (EASR). Airzone can assist in determining what steps a facility needs to take to be in compliance with the Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks (MECP). We can provide assistance in updating your current Emission Summary Dispersion Modelling (ESDM) Report and applying for an amendment to your current ECA if necessary.

If you require assistance with similar projects, or have questions, contact:

Ryan Dignard, CIH, ROHT

Industrial Hygienist

rdignard[at] 905-890-6957 ext. 103

Charles Geen, M.Sc.

Industrial Hygienist

cgeen[at] 905-890-6957 ext. 104