Posted by: biopharmaehsforum | March 2, 2021

2020 Report to BioPharma Members

What a year 2020 was for environmental, health and safety professionals!  It is my fervent hope that all of you and your loved ones are healthy.

In December, the BioPharma EHS Forum celebrated its 16th Anniversary.  A few of you may recall that in December 2004, Genentech hosted the inaugural meeting of the BioPharma EHS Forum at its South San Francisco site.  The vision of Debora Van der Sluis, then-Senior Manager, Research & Development, EHS, Genentech, was to provide an opportunity for EHS professionals in BioPharma to exchange ideas, share best practices, network, and benchmark with other companies to help improve worker safety and health.  In 2009, the Forum held its first meeting in Massachusetts, at Genzyme, and videoconference was available for Western U.S. locations.  To minimize disruption, Forum members voted in 2015 to hold the annual in-person meeting in a single location (rather than video cast in Massachusetts and California), and that is what had been done until, for obvious reasons, there was no in-person meeting in 2020.    

We appreciate your continued participation as we move forward into 2021.  The following is a report on activities during the past year:

Conference Calls – The 2020 BioPharma EHS Forum meeting was scheduled to be held on 15 – 16 September in Cambridge, MA where members would normally network and attend two days of valuable presentations.  The Planning Committee decided instead to hold a Virtual Event Series consisting of six 90 minute conference calls. 

Call #1 – COVID-19:  The first call in the 2020 Virtual Event Series was held 17 June 2020 and featured John Howard, Director of CDC National Institute for Occupations Safety and Health.  Dr. Howard presented discussed (no surprise) “NIOSH Perspective on COVID-19 and the Workplace.”  He discussed the Background of COVID-19, Transmission, Testing, and Workplace Mitigation Measures.  A substantial Q&A session followed the presentation.  

Call #2 – Return to Work:  On 15 July 2020 three members of the BioPharma Planning Committee discussed the topic of “Return to Work Practices: EHS Role in Managing Returning to Sites.”  Each speaker reviewed steps to minimize transmission, the evolution of best practices at sites, reopening of amenities, managing the next wave (contact tracing), and re-densifying office sites.  An open discussion among speakers and attendees followed the presentations.

Call #3 – Environmental Sustainability:  The next call in the series was held 23 September 2020 provided an overview of one member’s R&D sites’ Environmental Sustainability Journey.  The presenters discussed the zero carbon ambition, highlighted where a few of their R&D sites currently are on the journey, and projected next steps.  Participant questions provided a lively discussion following the presentations.

Call #4 – Cell and Gene Therapy:  Members were lucky to hear a scientific presentation on Cell and Gene Therapy on 21 October 2020.  This therapy introduces new, healthy cells into a patient’s body to replace the diseased or missing cells.  Gene therapy involves treatments that use genetic material with the goal of changing the course of the disease accomplished through gene editing or gene addition. 

Call #5 – EHS Role in Corporate Security & FBI Stories:  On18 November 2020, members heard from FBI Special Agent Scott McGaunn and a Director of Corporate Security with a member company.  Agent McGaunn discussed various security threats and recent investigations, and encouraged call participants to become involved in InfraGard.  The role of the EHS professional in workplace security was also discussed.

Call #6 – Working from Home Ergonomics:  On 10 December 2020 BioPharma EHS Forum members were joined by a Principal Ergonomics Program Manager and a senior member of her staff on this important topic.  When shelter-in-place orders went into effect, there were many unknowns and little time to prepare.  Employees suddenly found themselves working at home, while balancing the needs of work and family and the Ergo Team was quickly inundated with requests for help.  Presenters shared their short- and long-term home office ergonomics tips and solutions to help employees work safely and comfortably.  

In addition to the six conference calls as part of the Virtual Event Series, six additional BioPharma conference calls were held on topics of interest, as follows: 

  • Novel Coronavirus:  Benjamin Kim, Nixon Peabody – February 5, 2020;
  • Inside View of EPA Enforcement:  Doug Parker, former US EPA Director of enforcement, and now Principal, RPO Strategies – February 11, 2020;
  • OSHA Implications of COVID-19: Eric Conn, Founding Partner at Conn Maciel Carey, LLP – April 15, 2020;
  • OSHA Implications of COVID-19 Part 2:  Eric Conn, Conn Maciel Carey, LLP –  June 4, 2002;
  • NIOSH Perspective on COVID-19 and the Workplace Part 2: John Howard, Director of National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health – October 6, 2020; and
  • Long-Term Legal Consequences of EHS and Management Decisions: Michael Cooper – December 8, 2020.

In order to assure that the topics and speakers were relevant to BioPharma EHS professionals, Forum members volunteer to participate on the Planning Committee for every annual meeting.  This year, the Planning Committee members went above and beyond the call of duty in determining topics and selecting and acquiring speakers for the six conference calls in the Virtual Event Series as well as the six regular conference calls scheduled in 2020.  

More Background – The benefit for the attendees is not just in the breadth of industry representation but also in the depth of dialogue on EHS topics important to each member as well as a specific focus on biosafety.  Furthermore, it is a relatively small group, providing opportunities to informally network.  All topics on the agenda are relevant and of particular interest to EHS professionals in BioPharma.

In 2018, members of the BioPharma EHS Forum voted to adopt the following Statement of Purpose:

In biotechnology and biopharmaceutical industries where there is constant innovation, the BioPharma EHS Forum focuses on supporting EHS professionals, sharing best practices, networking and benchmarking to achieve excellence in EHS programs.

Based on company requests, the chair organizes conference calls for members on topics that may be of interest.  Some calls have been scheduled for 2021:  Recordkeeping on 13 January; Dr. John Howard (NIOSH) on 10 February; What to Expect from a Biden Federal OSHA on 23 February; Developing World-Class Training and Effectiveness Survey, 2 March; and What to Expect from a Biden USEPA on 10 March.  Please contact Elizabeth Treanor ( if you have topics you would like to volunteer to speak about or have a suggested topic and/or speaker

Benchmarking Polls – The Forum provides an easy network for members to share information with each other and to find out what other companies are doing to address particular topics.  Members pose questions by sending them to staff, questions are distributed to members, and the results are provided to those individuals who respond (with company identifiers removed).  These polls have proven to be a very useful tool in information-sharing and benchmarking.  In 2020 there were a total of 80 poll requests.  Sixty-six of these polls were COVID-19 related and results were updated daily.  

In addition, members requested information on Electronic Lab Notebooks and Risk Assessment; Evacuation Protocols; Recycling Silicone Tubing; EHS Reporting Line; Eyewashes and Emergency Showers; Lab Safety Shoes; Chemical Inventory Capabilities and RFI; Prevention of Potential Chemical and Biological Contamination; Safety Performance Management; Cellular Phones; On-site Healthcare Facilities; Cameras for Monitoring Body Temperature; Recognition Rewards for Manufacturing Personnel; and Driving Safety Programs.

Information Updates – Although not a formal part of the service, on occasion, summaries, memos, or notices are sent out to provide information on topics that may be of interest.  This year, information on the California emergency COVID-19 regulation was distributed, as well as other pertinent materials related to COVID guidance. 

It has been another great year; thank you to all the members who help make the group valuable!  As previously announced, the annual fee was increased for 2021 to $2,250 per company for cash or check payments.  Costs have increased significantly, particularly for the website, poll compilation, and other administrative oversight.  We hope you will continue to participate.

Please let me know if there is anything we can do to make the BioPharma EHS Forum provide more value to you.

Thank you.

Phylmar Sacramento Office:  P. O.  Box 660912

Sacramento, California 95866; +1.916.425.3270

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