Thursday, June 25, 2020

When Do Asbestos Certificates (Hard Cards) Expire Under COVID-19?

This question is the overwhelming number one question we at Future Environment Designs (FEDTC) are being asked at this time.  So, to answer this question we must remember that there are two agencies that regulate asbestos licensing and training.  The license (companies are licensed; individuals get certificates) or more appropriately the asbestos certificate (hard card) is issued by the New York State Department of Labor (NYSDOL).  This certificate expires annually on the last day of your birth month.  Currently, NYSDOL is not enforcing expiration dates on certificates as long as the expiration date was after December 31, 2019.  See NYSDOL Temporary Rules for Licensing & Certification website for more information.

License & Hard Card (picture)
Hard card with picture (certificate) & Company license

The second agency that plays a part in this is the New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH).  The NYSDOH enforces 10 NYCRR Part 73 Asbestos Safety Program Requirements which regulates the asbestos training providers and also says that the training certificate (the DOH 2832 Form, the piece of paper you get once the class is completed) expires after one year on the date you took the training.  In addition, it has a grace period after that date that lasts a year.  Once the grace period is over you must take an initial course to get another certificate (DOH 2832) for that title.  Realize there has not been any waiver on this issue and so you will need to keep an eye on your training certificate expiration date and make sure you don't go over the grace period.  NYSDOH is now allowing virtual instructor-led courses, see FEDTC's Wednesday, May 27, 2020, blog post on the requirements for that training.  Because of this, there is no need to let your hard card or your training certificate expire.


DOH 2832 Form

Those of you who work in New York City, New York City Department of Environmental Protection (NYCDEP) regulate Asbestos Rules and Regulations,Title 15, Chapter 1 of the Rules of the City of New York.  This regulation also has certificates (NYCDEP hard cards) for individuals who are handlers, handler supervisors, investigators, and restricted handlers.  These hard cards expire every two years based on your birthday (but you must still meet the NYSDOL & NYSDOH requirements of training every year).  NYCDEP is allowing workers whose hard card expired on March 15, 2020, or later to continue to work using their existing cards until July 31, 2020.  See NYCDEP's Extension of Asbestos Certification Deadline website for more information.

Hopefully, that answers everyone's questions and we hope to see you in a virtual class soon or in live classes sometime in Phase IV.

Monday, June 22, 2020

Final Phase of New York City Training Requirements for Construction Workers Arrives on September 1, 2020.

In 2017, New York City's (NYC) Council amended the administrative code of the City of New York and the NYC building code, in relation to construction site safety training.  This amendment is called Local Law 196 of 2017 (formerly known as Intro. 1447).  It amends the administrative code by adding section 22-509 Construction site safety training courses.  Requiring the Mayor to establish by March 1, 2018, a program to provide equal access to construction site safety training.  This law has several deadlines and was established to make sure that construction workers in New York City all had a minimum amount of training.  This law has been updated and delayed twice, so far (click here for the FAQ on the regulation).

Properly capped rebar
The first deadline has passed already, beginning March 1, 2018, each permit holder at a building site for which a construction superintendent, site safety manager, or site safety coordinator is required shall ensure that each construction or demolition worker employed or otherwise engaged at such site by the permit holder or performing subcontracted work for or on behalf of such permit holder shall have successfully completed:
  • an Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) 10-hour class;
  • an OSHA 30-hour class; or
  • a 100-hour training program.
We are currently passed the second deadline of December 1, 2019.  Permit holders shall ensure each worker has an OSHA 30-hour card, SST card, a limited SST card or a temporary SST card and each worker who is serving as a site safety manager, site safety coordinator, concrete safety manager, construction superintendent or a competent person at such site shall have an SST supervisor card.

Recent OSHA 30-hour Construction Safety Course

If you are wondering what an SST card, a limited SST card, a temporary SST card, or an SST supervisor card is, well you are not the only one!  First, a Site Safety Training card (SST card) SST card, a limited SST card, a temporary SST card, or an SST supervisor card are cards that are issued by a New York City Department of Buildings Approved Training Provider (which at the time of my writing this, there are 102 training providers approved).

To get a limited SST card (which expires August 31, 2020) you must have taken one of the following training paths:
  1. OSHA 10-hour class with 20-hours of additional training:
    • OSHA 10-hour
    • 8-hour Fall Prevention
    • 8-hour Chapter 33 (Site Safety Manager Refresher) or 4-hour General Electives and 4-hour Specialized Electives
    • 4-hour Supported Scaffold User and refresher
  2. OSHA 30-hour class
  3. 100-Hour Training Program Approved by the Building Department
  4. Prior Experience
    • 4-hour Fall Prevention
    • 4-hour Supported Scaffold User
To get a temporary SST card (which expires after 6 months during which time training must be completed to receive a Limited SST card or SST card) you must have taken an OSHA 10-hour class.

To get an SST card (which expires after 5 years) you must have taken one of the following training paths, this card will be required by September 1, 2020 (unless the NYC Council pushes this deadline back):
  1. OSHA 10-hour class with 30-hours of additional training:
    • OSHA 10-hour class
    • 8-hour Fall Prevention
    • 8-hour Chapter 33 (Site Safety Manager Refresher)
    • 4-hour Supported Scaffold User
    • 4-hour General Electives
    • 4-hour Specialized Electives
    • 2-hour Drug and Alcohol Awareness
  2. OSHA 30-hour Class with 10-hours of additional training:
    • OSHA 30-hour class
    • 8-hour Fall Prevention
    • 2-Hour Drug and Alcohol Awareness
  3. 100-hour Training Program Approved by the Building Department
  4. Prior Experience
    • 4-hour Fall Prevention
    • 4-hour Supported Scaffold User
To get a Supervisor SST card (which expires after 5 years) you must have taken:
  • OSHA 30-hour class
  • 8-hour fall prevention
  • 8-hour Chapter 33 (Site Safety Manager Refresher)
  • 4-hour Supported Scaffold User
  • 2-hour Site Safety Plan
  • 2-hour Tool Box Talks
  • 2-hour Pre-task Safety Meetings
  • 2-hour General Electives
  • 2-hour Specialized Electives
  • 2-hour Drug and Alcohol Awareness
So that's how you get the various cards required under this local law.  The law doesn't end there.  The next compliance date is September 1, 2020.  By that date, all workers must have an SST card to work on most construction projects.

By the full compliance date, SST Cards & Supervisor SST cards will be required on most construction sites

Since SST Cards and Supervisor SST cards expire after 5 years, applicants must have completed training to renew the cards in the one-year period preceding renewal of the card (in other words if the card expires in September 2025, in the year from September 2024 to September 2025 you need to complete the training discussed below):

  1. SST Card (8 Hours)
    • 4-hour Fall Prevention
    • 4-hour Supported Scaffold User
  2. Supervisor SST card (16 hours)
    • 8-hour Fall Prevention
    • 4-hour Supported Scaffold User
    • 2-hour Tool Box Talks
    • 2-hour Pre-Task Safety Meetings
Local Law 196 of 2017 obviously, creates a minimum training requirement for workers on most construction projects, to visit the NYC Site Safety Training website click here.  Permit holders are required to maintain a daily log that identifies each worker and that includes, for each worker a copy of SST card, a limited SST card, a temporary SST card, or an SST supervisor card or proof of taking an OSHA 10-hour; OSHA 30-hour; or 100-hour training program.  Violations of this law will result in a civil penalty of up to $5,000 per untrained worker to be issued to the owner of the site, the permit holder, and the employer of the untrained worker (this could mean up to a $15,000 fine, based on contract language, to the employer of the untrained worker).  Failing to maintain the log will result in a civil penalty of $2,500.  The gradual phase-in, the list of General and Specialized Elective courses, and the recent release of what it will take to become an approved training provider all seem to imply that the later dates may be the actual dates of implementation.  As we see now.

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Wednesday, June 17, 2020

PACNY's Environmental Conference Day Three - A NYSDOL Surprises with Fast Track Variances!

The last day of the Professional Abatement Contractors of New York's (PACNY's) 24th annual Environmental Conference was held at the Turning Stone Casino in Verona, New York on Friday, February 28, 2020.  The last day started similar to the first day with opening remarks from Ms. Deb Sanscrainte, of ARAMSCO and the conference chairwoman, and Timothy Thomas of Tetra Tech and President of PACNY.  These remarks included a change in the program because a snowstorm caused the originally scheduled speaker unable to attend the conference.  The beginning presentation was by Martin S. Rutstein, Ph.D., President of Ecological Consulting & Management Services, Inc. discussing talc litigation.  Followed by Brent Kynoch of the Environmental Information Association (EIA) discussing the benefits of joining the EIA.  The Regulatory Day of the conference includes the last chance of visiting the Vendor Exhibit Hall with a continental breakfast and visit the 30 vendors to get a chance to win the vendor gift cards/prizes.

Dr.Rutstein speaking about talc litigation

After the two morning presentations, and a short break in the Vendor Exhibit Hall, the New York State Department of Labor's (NYSDOL's) Panel with a question and answer session began.  The panel included  Dr. Eileen Franko, the Director; Mr. James Meacham Program Manager, Asbestos Control Bureau; Mr. Kirk Fisher, Program Manager, Licensing & Certification; and Mr. Ed Smith, Program Manager, Engineering Services Unit.  Questions and answers session was moderated by Mr. Tim Thomas of Tetra Tech Engineering.

NYSDOL Panel Discussion

The panel started with some opening remarks by Dr. Eileen Franko which included announcing her retirement in March 2020.  Making this the last year she will be on the panel.  Those of us who have gotten to know Dr. Franko through the years will miss her leadership and her willingness to listen to the industry and work with the industry to better things for all contractors and consultants.  As usual, the discussion of a new industrial code came up and it is still being worked on.  Mr. Smyth announced, to everyone's surprise, that they had launched a pilot program for certain site-specific variances (SSVs).  This pilot program is called Fast Track Variances.  These variances are common variances that are issued regularly by NYSDOL.  The purpose of this program is to speed up the review process for these routine variances and reduce the workload.  Currently, SSVs can take two to three weeks to turnaround.  Fast Track Variances can potentially be issued within the same day they are received.  There are 10 Fast Track Variances available and can be found at NYSDOL's Division of Safety and Health (DOSH) Engineering Services Unit's website.  Mr. Meacham discussed enforcement regarding Article 32 the NYS Mold Law.  NYSDOL has received 175 complaints and has issued 30 violations.  Most of the complaints are tenant-landlord complaints which do not apply to the law.

Future Environment Designs was a Gold Sponsor of PACNY's Environmental Conference

Another conference has ended and another successful year for PACNY with over 600 people attending the conference with 30 vendors exhibiting in the Vendor Exhibit hall both increases versus last year.  Though we are happy for Dr. Franco and wish her all the best, the industry will miss her.  Though she does leave us with a solid group of professionals running the various divisions that matter to the asbestos and mold industries.  Hope to see you next year!  

Monday, June 08, 2020

Asbestos Training Providers Slowly Reopen - FEDTC Initial Training is Back!

On Wednesday, June 3, 2020, Karen Cummings, M.P.H., Director of the New York State Department of Health's (NYSDOH) Asbestos Safety Training Program notified asbestos training providers that they were allowed to offer in-person initial asbestos training.  Empire State Development had determined that statewide initial asbestos safety training can begin in-person.  She also notified us that refresher training must remain online/remote until the rest of the education industry is opened (which would be Phase 4).
  
Karen Cummings, M.P.H.

Training providers are required to follow all state and federal requirements on social-distancing, personal hygiene (hand-washing/sanitizer use), face coverings, cleaning/disinfecting, etc.  Training providers are required to check the New York Forward site at https://forward.ny.gov/ for guidance and questions regarding re-opening your business should be directed to Empire State Development.



Future Environment Designs Training Center is working on scheduling an #asbestos supervisor initial course and we already have a mold worker, mold remediation/supervisor, and mold assessment initial course on the schedule starting June 29, 2020.  Visit our website for our current schedule.


Wednesday, May 27, 2020

New York State Allows Teleconferencing of Asbestos Refresher Courses During COVID-19 PAUSE.

On Friday, May 8, 2020, Karen Cummings, M.P.H., Director of the New York State Department of Health's (NYSDOH) Asbestos Safety Training Program announced that because of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, asbestos training providers were being allowed to submit for approval their teleconferencing plans for asbestos refresher training courses.

Karen Cummings, MPH, Director of NYSDOH Asbestos Safety Training Program
For a training provider to be considered for teleconferencing, the training provider must already be approved to instruct the discipline.  Providers are expected to use their existing approved curriculum during the course.  Teleconferencing plans must include: 

  • The video-conferencing platform they will use.
  • How they will verify the identity of participants.
  • How will the instructor check to see if students are paying attention?
  • How will the instructor handle students who are distracted or engaging in unrelated activities?
  • What type of participation will the instructor require from the students?
  • How will the instructor check to see if students return from breaks?
  • How will the instructor handle students being late, either at the onset of class or when returning from breaks?
  • How will examinations be administered?
  • How will DOH-2832 certificates be issued?
The teleconferencing plan must meet and answer these questions.  In addition, the plan must meet these general requirements:

  • Must be an existing provider with an approved asbestos safety curriculum for the discipline to be taught. Only approved training course material can be utilized during the course. Course material normally distributed in class must be made available to the student either by mail or email prior to the class.
  • All requirements for courses remain for notifications, revisions, cancelations, maintaining paperwork, etc.
  • The student information memo needs to be provided to the student. The student must return the signed document to the provider (via email is acceptable).
  • Rosters shall be submitted with students’ names and DMV numbers, along with proof of attendance and identity, and the signed student information memo for each student listed on the roster.
  • All participants must have a good internet connection.
  • Each student must sign in to the teleconferencing platform individually.  Multiple students cannot share a sign-on.
  • All students and the instructor must have video capability. The student must remain visible to the camera during all instruction.
  • The entire training session must be recorded and be made available to the NYSDOH upon requestStudents must be made aware they are being recorded.
  • The NYSDOH must be given call-in information for the class
  • Participants must attend the session in its entirety.  They cannot “arrive” into the online session late and they must return from breaks on time. If they arrive to the course late, they cannot be admitted into the course.  If they do not arrive back from break on time, they cannot continue the course. No make-up time will be allowed.
  • Participants cannot have distractions (people and pets interrupting, television on, excess background noise, etc.).
  • During instruction time, students may not engage in any activities unrelated to the class (for example: talk to people who are not in the class, texting, surfing the internet, playing games on phone, etc.).
  • Instruction must include interactive participatory training methods. All students must actively participate in classroom discussions. Providing only a lecture is not permitted.
  • Font size must be large enough and easily legible.

Instructor-led Courses are shutdown during the PAUSE
Future Environment Design's (FEDTC's) Teleconferencing Plan was approved.  The week of May 18, 2020, we ran our first virtual instructor-led training courses.  We would like to thank all those who attended the training and followed the requirements.  The requirements above have been underlined for emphasis.  FEDTC is using GoToMeeting as our teleconferencing platform.  In using that platform your attendance is digitally entered on the attendance sheet when you sign-in to the platform and we start the recording at the class start time.  The class session is recorded with all the attendee's audio and video feeds are on the recording.  So individuals must be on camera and signed into the portal once the recording starts (no exceptions!) or they will be locked out of the course, as required by NYSDOH.  As you see above, we are not allowed to have make-up time with these classes.

As for the training materials, and the exams, we've been using Administrate as our Learning Management System (LMS) since 2015.  Many of you have already been accessing the system for the course manual.  Now the exam will be online at that portal, too.  Course evaluations are also online at CourseCheck.com and have been online for two-three years now.

After the PAUSE, expect class sizes to be smaller in larger rooms to allow for social distancing.
Some other points, NYSDOH prohibits training providers from mailing blank DOH2832 forms to students.  The NYSDOH student information sheet is your official signature for the attendance sheets and the provider and NYSDOH copies of the DOH2832 forms.  Training providers will mail the students the completed student and New York State Department of Labor (NYSDOL) copies of the DOH2832 form.  Remember you must sign the NYSDOL copy of the DOH2832 form before sending it with your application, check, and the appendix to the license (child support form).

FEDTC looks forward to being able to provide this service to our clients.  Please remember we can only continue to provide this service if everyone complies with the NYSDOH rules.  All it could take is one person and NYSDOH may decide to discontinue this teleconferencing plan, at any time.