Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Future Environment Designs Approved to Offer NYSDOL Mold Refresher Courses

Future Environment Designs is happy to announce that New York State Department of Labor has approved our Mold Refresher training course.  This course which will allow Mold Abatement Workers, Mold Abatement Supervisors, Mold Remediation Contractors, and Mold Assessment Contractors & Individuals to renew their license with New York State and continue offering mold services.  The course is an four hour course with a 15 minute break.  Individuals enrolled in the course will be expected to enhance the learning experience by sharing information regarding their experience in the past two years.

Mold Post-Assessment Clearance 
 We will be adding dates to our schedule at Future Environment Design's website now that we are approved to offer these courses.  As usual you can contact us to set up the Mold Refresher classes under our training "At Your Convenience" service.  Look forward to seeing you in class.

Thursday, May 04, 2017

PACNY's Environmental Conference - The NYSDOL Round Table - Day Three and So It Ends!

Day Three of the Professional Abatement Contractors of New York's (PACNY's) 21st Annual Environmental Conference started with Mr. Angelo Garcia, III's, of Future Environment Designs, Inc, presentation "Changes Are A Coming."  Our presentation can be found in our dropbox folder under conference presentations.  We discussed the many changes that will affect the abatement/restoration industry including the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) (the new Director and Toxic Substance Control Act (TSCA)); Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) (the new Director, Silica, Beryllium, Safety & Health Programs, Recordkeeping & Reporting Requirements; & the increase in penalties); New York State Department of Labor (NYSDOL) proposed asbestos regulation changes to Industrial Code Rule 56; and changes coming from NYSDOL on the mold regulation (Article 32).  Our presentation, was videotaped and is attached below. 

The DiVal Safety Equipment Hospitality Suite caused a few late comers on Day Three
The next presenter was Mr. Jack Springston, of TRC Environmental, discussing "Mold Clearance Testing - The Good, The Bad and The Ugly."  Mr. Springston's presentation discussed all the different sampling methods for mold from spore traps (has a capture zone that collects air about the size of a golf ball), particle counters (not specific), Environmental Relative Moldiness Index (ERMI) (still under research) and culture plates (tried and true method).  In addition, he discussed the variability of data from certified laboratories and the interpretation of the that data.

Mr. Jack Springston, of TRC Environmental
After Mr. Springston's presentation, we took one last break in the Exhibit Hall to network with exhibitors Admar Construction Equipment & Supplies and Paradigm Environmental Services.  Our staff, Ms. Kimberly Granmoe, Ms. Sheryl Esposito, and I would like to thank all of you who visited our booth this year.
Our Booth, Sheryl Esposito, Kimberly Granmoe, Veronica & Angelo Garcia III
  The NYSDOL Round Table as usual is the highlight of the PACNY Environmental Conference.  Having NYSDOL regulators at the conference allows for questions and answers that can be timely and very useful.  The panel consisted of Dr. Eileen Franko, Director-Division of Safety and Health, Mr. Ed Smith, P.E., Engineering Services Unit, Mr. Kirk Fisher, Licensing & Certification Unit, and Mr. James Meachum, P.E., Asbestos Control Bureau.

Dr. Franko, Mr. Smith, Mr. Fisher, & Mr. Meachum on the Dais, Left to Right
This year's presentation they came armed with alot of information that was very useful.  They presented an update on the mold regulation from 2016 including the number of complaints (40), the number that was related to issues NYSDOL could address (16), while the remainder was outside of their jurisdiction (24).  The number of mold training courses held in 2016 were 31 assessor (1348 attendees), 26 remediation (1,668 attendees), & 32 worker courses (2,284 attendees).  There are 553 mold assessor companies (451 individuals); 526 mold remediation companies (526 individuals); 910 mold supervisors; and 1,941 mold workers.  Compare that with the 21,237 asbestos handling certificates, and 1,539 asbestos handler licenses (companies).  In 2016, NYSDOL conducted 2,457 asbestos inspections, and resolved 494 cases with 1,094 violations.  The top violations include:

Discussing Top Ten Violations
  • Asbestos Survey Required; 
  • Certification & Training Required; and 
  • Licensing Requirements and Procedures      
As many of you know, our biggest complaint about NYSDOL is that they don't do enough to go after companies that do asbestos without an asbestos survey, an asbestos license, and asbestos certified workers.  These three were the top three violations issued by NYSDOL, which means we say BRAVO!  NYSDOL keep up the good work!  It was interesting to us that one of the top ten violations was not having a manometer or working one (this piece of equipment literally can be purchased for about $30-50, the fine can be $5,000).  One of the biggest issues discussed was the need for a mold rule and at this point NYSDOL does not see the need for a rule.  After some questions and answers the conference ended with lunch.  This year's conference definitely seemed more technical than previous years.  As a trainer, this year's conference has provided significant information to bring back to our classes and provide to our attendees.  We look forward to seeing your next year, which Future Environment Designs will be celebrating 30 years in business.   

In the past week, NYSDOL announced the training requirements for mold refresher training.  All mold licensees will have to take a 4-hour refresher course to renew the licenses.  We are currently working on the submittal to become approved for these courses.  Below is the video from our presentation from the conference.

Friday, April 28, 2017

April 28th - Workers' Memorial Day!

Future Environment Designs (#FEDTC) joins with other safety organizations in marking today as Worker's Memorial Day!  Worker's Memorial Day is a day of remembrance for those who have died on the job.  This is also the day that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) was created in 1971.

Construction work on the ferry terminal on Lake Champlain

Before OSHA was created, an estimated 14,000 workers were killed on the job per year.  Though OSHA has been mostly successful in reducing the number job related deaths (job related deaths are down to 4,500 per year, however, there are over 50,000 who die from occupational diseases like asbestosis & silicosis) it is important to remember, there is still more we can do.  These deaths are preventable!  Now that Mr. R. Alexander Acosta has been confirmed as the new Labor Secretary, we will get a new OSHA director and find out the direction OSHA will take going forward.

Public events happen all over the country celebrating Worker's Memorial Day visit OSHA's website for more information.

Monday, April 17, 2017

PACNY's Environmental Conference - The Very Technical Sessions - Day Two!

The second day of the Professional Abatement Contractors of New York (PACNY) environmental conference at the Turning Stone Casino in Verona, NY started with the Technical Sessions.  The day started with opening remarks from Sean Hart, of Energy & Environment, President of PACNY and Deb Sanscrainte, of Aramsco, the Conference Chair.  This year's Technical Session seemed much more intense & focused with a lot of good information presented.  The presentations kicked off with Dr. Martin Rutstein, of Ecological Consulting & Management Services, discussing "Talc with Tremolite & Other Amphiboles." Discussed the issues of talc contaminated with asbestos or silica and the potential for diseases correlated to talc related asbestosis, silicosis or talcosis.  Dr. Rutstein's presentations are always entertaining and are eye opening in regards to the science of geology.  The next presenter was Mr. Tom Laubenthal, of The Environmental Institute (a division of ATC Group Services) discussing "Using ASTM E2356 Standard Practice for Comprehensive Building Surveys".  Mr. Laubenthal's discussion brought up interesting points regarding the use of Safety Data Sheets (SDS) and Architect/Engineer Certifications of no asbestos containing materials used as part of the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA's) Asbestos Hazard Emergency Response Act (AHERA) and its applicability for the purposes of a "thorough inspection" under the EPA's National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants (NESHAPS).  After Mr. Laubenthal's presentation, we took a break to wander the Vendor Exhibit Hall and meet with some of the vendors like Grayling/ILC Dover (glovebags, etc.) and AMA Analytical (laboratory services).

Mr. Ed Stuber, of Galson Laboratories
We returned from the break for Mr. Ed Stuber's, of Galson Laboratories, update on the "Occupational Safety and Health Administration's (OSHA's) Silica regulation."  One of the key points of his presentation is that the silica standard is no longer a moving target.  Previously, the standard was based on a formula.  The current standard has a set permissible exposure limit (PEL) of 50 micrograms per cubic meter and a set action level of 25 micrograms per cubic meter.  In additions, it is very important to ensure you see the lab's proficiency testing data because labs that analyze silica samples have till June 23, 2018 to comply with the OSHA standard.  Dr. Chris Goulah, of EMSL Analytical, presented on "Legionella".  The presentation was on the New York City outbreak in 2015 and the regulations created by New York City (NYC) and New York State (NYS) to protect against Legionella.  Dr. Goulah's presentation noted that Legionnaires' Disease is on the rise since 2000 and that most cases are the result of exposure to Legionella asssociated with building water systems (potable & non-potable).  Mr. Jim Redmond, of Associated General Contractors of NYS, gave us a "Regulatory Update on OSHA."  Mr. Redmonds discussed the electronic submission of injuries and illnesses (goes into effect on July 1, 2017 for more information visit OSHA's website) and construction industry citations based on the multi-employer work-site policy (creating, exposing, correcting, & controlling).  We then broke for the buffet lunch and another stroll through the Exhibit Hall and meet vendors like DiVal Safety Equipment and Frederico Demolition.

Brent Kynoch of EIA
The afternoon started with Dr. James Haklar, from EPA Region 2, discussing "Polychlorinated Biphenyl (PCBs) Case Studies".    Dr. Haklar's presentation discussed the primary sources of PCBs in buildings (caulk, fluorescent light ballasts, paints and mastics) and secondary sources (building materials contaminated by releases of PCBs from the primary sources).  Dr. Haklar's presentation also discussed exposure levels for evaluating PCBs in Indoor School Air (to keep the total exposure below the oral reference dose of 20 nanograms PCB per kilogram-day) and the EPA's agreement with NYC.  Up next was Mr. Brent Kynoch, of the Environmental Information Association (EIA), updating us on "What Does Toxic Substance Control Act (TSCA) Reform Mean to the Asbestos Abatement Industry?"  Mr. Kynoch discussed "unreasonable risk" and the EPA's need to take final risk management action within 2 years or 4 years if an extension is needed.  In addition, Mr. Kynoch informed us that asbestos was selected in the "Top 10" chemicals for review by EPA and as of the PACNY conference the public comment period was open (it has since closed, here is the docket information:  The final speakers for the day were Mr. Cole Stanton, of Fiberlock Technologies, and Mr. Fred Schauf, of Spectrum Environmental presenting on "Environmental Indicators: Changes in Policy and Practice that WILL Impact Restoration & Abatement in 2017 -2018 and Beyond."  Mr. Stanton and Mr. Schauf discussed the 2016 Indoor Air Quality Association (IAQA) report to NYS Department of Labor (NYSDOL).  This report indicated the following:

Mr. Cole Stanton, of Fiberlock Technologies, and Mr. Fred Schauf, of Spectrum Environmental
  • Remediators perform own assessments/final inspections
  • Mold Remediation Plans are incomplete:
    • No quantities per work area
    • No Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) mentioned
    • EPA registered biocides etc. without specifying a product
    • No method for remediation, only "industry standards"
    • No cost estimate
  • Non NYSDOL licensed assessors provide the inspection/assessment.
  • Real Estate agents are assessing and preparing Mold Remediation Plans for properties they are listing (does not appear to violate Article 32, it does appear to violate their code of ethics.)
  • Mold remediators are still providing homeowners with checklist used as assessment and mold remediation plan
  • and/or, No Mold Remediation Work Plans provided.
  • Training Quality needs significant improvement:
    • Incorrect information presented, such as: asbestos testing is not necessary as mold takes precedence over asbestos containing materials; a check list by the homeowner is OK; sampling is required; biocides are preferable to removal.
    • Classes last less than 5 hours a day
    • Mold assessment classes being taught by teachers without mold experience.
Vendor Reception in the Exhibit Hall
That ended the Technical Sessions on day 2.  The Vendor Reception in the Exhibit Hall started, where further networking with the vendors and the attendees continued.  It was a very informative day 2 and the amount of information was fantastic.  Looking forward to day 3 and our presentation.  Thank you to the Long Island contingent that attended the conference this year.

Part of the Long Island Contingent that Attended This Year 
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Wednesday, March 29, 2017

PACNY's Environmental Conference - Day 1 - And So It Begins!

This year's Professional Abatement Contractors of New York (PACNY) 21st Annual Environmental Conference was definitely more technical then previous years.  The first day of the PACNY environmental conference started with the Proficiency Workshop for Trainers.  The Proficiency Workshop speakers consisted of Mr. Kevin Malone, Director of New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH); Mr. Don Pierce of New York State Department of Labor (NYSDOL); and Mr. Kevin Hutton of Eastcoast Resources; and Mr. Ed Smith of NYSDOL Engineering Services Unit.

It was a modest Day One which started with networking during lunch. Mr. Malone started the presentations by providing us with an update on the statistics of the asbestos training program.  As we have come to expect the number of individuals attending asbestos courses shrinks every year.  The 2016 stats were 26,734 total certs issued broken done 21,642 refresher certs and 5,092 initial certs issued at 3,349 total classes held.  Those numbers are down from the 2015 stats that were 27,731 total certificates issued with 22,074 refresher certs and 5,657 initial certs issued at 3,436 training courses.
Mr. Kevin Malone of NYSDOH
The next presenter was Mr. Pierce discussing the Asbestos Hazard Emergency Response Act (AHERA) auditing update.  For those of you who don't know, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has been providing New York State (NYS) with a grant to perform audits of public and private school's AHERA required management plans.  The presentation included a discussion on the process of selecting schools to be audited (randomly selected and/or based upon cause {complaint}), how the data is collected and how the information is provided back to EPA.  In addition, Mr. Pierce discussed several issues the audits have found:
  • EPA accepts electronic record-keeping, but hard copies of the original survey and asbestos management plan must be maintained at the Local Education Agency (LEA) office.
  • The LEA must assign and train a designated person to oversee asbestos activities and ensure compliance with AHERA requirements.  The designated person must be trained but does not require them to be accredited and does not list a specific course or specific number of hours. It does list specific training topics which include - health effects; detection, identification, & assessment of asbestos; options for controlling asbestos; asbestos management plan topics; and relevant Federal, State, and local regulations for asbestos.  As a side note: Future Environment Designs (FEDTC) recommends designated persons take the asbestos inspector (3 day) and management planner (2 day) initial courses to meet the AHERA requirements.
  • EPA allows two methods for new additions to existing buildings.  An architect or project engineer responsible for the construction of a new school building after October 12, 1988 or an accredited inspector to:
    • to sign a statement that no asbestos containing building materials (ACBM) was specified as a building material in any construction document for the building, or
    • to the best of his or her knowledge, no ACBM was used in any building material in the building.
    • The LEA must submit a copy of this statement to the EPA Regional Office and shall include the statement in the management plan of the school.
  • Deficiencies found by the audit included:
    • Periodic surveillances were missing or weren't well documented
    • Documentation of notifications not included or well documented
    • ACBM removal not updated in the management plan
    • Clearance air monitoring records not available per AHERA
Mr. Don Pierce of NYSDOL
After a short break, the Variance Writing Workshop with Mr. Hutton and Mr. Smith was up next.  This nearly two-hour presentation, got into the details of submitting and writing variances that Mr. Smith's Engineering Services Unit (ESU) reviews for approval, disapproval, or modification. Some of the points discussed:
Mr. Kevin Hutton of Eastcoast Resources
  • According to the Asbestos School Hazard Abatement Re-authorization Act (ASHARA) an asbestos project designer is required on Public and Commercial Building asbestos projects (including residential buildings with 10 or more dwellings).
  • When writing a variance consider your audience: DOL ESU; Abatement Contractor, Project Monitor; Asbestos Control Bureau (ACB) Inspector; Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) Inspector (Compliance Safety Officer); and the Courts.
  • Mr. Smith discussed that his department handles between 1400-1500 variances a year.  About 25% are then reopened, with another 5% reopened a second time and another 5% reopened a third time.  Mr. Smith also provided us with a list of Pet Peeves regarding variance applications which included:
    • Failing to explicitly list what code sections you are requesting relief from
    • Don't be lazy and simply submit someone else's variance and state you want to do what is in that variance.  Own your work, your client is paying you to apply for a variance on their behalf.
    • "State-Wide" emergencies
    • Try to limit your write-up to the hardship and proposed steps to be taken to work around the hardship.
Mr. Ed Smith of NYSDOL Engineering Services Unit
Variance workshop ended the first day of the Conference.  That evening we celebrated & networked at the President's Reception featuring Dan the Magic Man!
John of TS Steakhouse at Turning Stone Casino