Boiling water, substation attacks, and the FDA report

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What’s going on in EHS this week? Find out with Safety at the Frontline! 

Tune in on Mondays to get the latest safety news with Frontline’s podcast. We’re covering the top EHS news, along with some quick and useful tips, so you can stay safe and keep rocking on the frontlines. 

Boil water warning in Houston 

Over the past few weeks, the types of news that have been making headlines seem to all be somehow related to environment, health, and safety. In late November, nearly everyone in Houston, one of the US biggest cities was asked to boil their water before using it, due to a power outage at a water treatment plant. Apparently, Houston officials weren’t convinced that a brief power outage at a water treatment plant created the kind of risk that warranted a 36-hour boil-water notice but was overruled by state regulators. 

Substation attack in North Carolina 

And as for the other headline, late last week, a gunfire attack in North Carolina on two electrical substations left tens of thousands of people without power, schools closed, a curfew imposed, and authorities investigating what they say was an intentional, criminal attack. 

FBI spokesperson Steve Bernd said “It’s not just an inconvenience for preventing me from streaming my favorite show, you know. What’s it doing to that person that is on a dialysis machine? I mean, it could be life-threatening.” 

Also, according to Homeland Security, North Carolina isn’t the only state dealing with substation attacks. as there have been reports of other physical attacks at substations in Oregon and Washington. 

These two news items among many others go to show how critical the job of frontline workers and EHS professionals are. We hope everyone working in and around substations and power grids stays safe. 

Commissioned report on the FDA 

Last news of the week, a few weeks back we covered how the FDA, USDA, and CDC have been slow in providing information on recent outbreaks. A recent report on FDA operations prepared by The Reagan-Udall Foundation found that the agency needs more money and an organizational chart that has a clear chain of command. 

The 48-page report states that a lack of clear organization is a problem at the FDA, with low funding also mentioned repeatedly. 

The Reagan-Udall Foundation panel also states that the lack of a clear chain of command created silos where entities operate without consultation, which creates the problem of some work being duplicated and other issues going unaddressed. Problems regarding the infant formula outbreak and shortage were given as an example by the panel. 

Hopefully, this report helps move the needle towards getting these critical problems within the FDA, solved.