Friday, January 12, 2018

OSHA Recordkeeping Webinar To Discuss Posting Requirements For 300A Form & Filing It Electronically!

On February 1, 2018, covered employers are required to post the Occupational Safety and Health Administration's (OSHA) 300A form.  To help you with this process Future Environment Designs and Keevily Spero & Whitelaw, an insurance services company, will be holding a webinar on the OSHA Recordkeeping requirements, click here to register for the webinar.  The 300A form summarizes the injury and illness information that was kept on the OSHA 300 log form.  Covered employers are required to prepare and maintain records of serious occupational injuries and illnesses that occur at a workplace on the OSHA 300 log form.  At the end of the year, covered employers are required to tally the totals on each column and enter the totals on the OSHA 300A form.  The information should be used by employers to evaluate safety in the workplace and determine ways to eliminate or reduce hazards in the workplace.  OSHA's 300A form is required to be posted until April 30, 2018 and must be retained for 5 years.  During the retention period you are required to update the log to add new information regarding the occupational injuries and illnesses recorded on it.  OSHA has brief tutorial to help you complete the forms.

OSHA 300 Form
A final rule was issued and went into effect on January 1, 2017, requiring certain employers to electronically submit injury and illness data to OSHA.  OSHA has provided an online secure website (click here for the website) for submitting this information. You must submit this information by July 1, 2018.  If you meet the following criteria you DO NOT have to electronically submit your 300A information to OSHA:
  • The establishment's peak employment during the previous calendar year was 19 or fewer, regardless of the establishment's industry.
  • The establishment's industry is on this list, regardless of the size of establishment.
  • The establishment had a peak employment between 20 and 249 employees during previous calendar year and the establishment's industry is not on this list.
  • Establishments under jurisdiction of these State Plan states do not currently have to electronically submit to OSHA: California, MarylandMinnesotaSouth CarolinaUtahWashington, and Wyoming.
300A Form Must Posted By February 1, 2018
A different rule which went into effect January 1, 2015, changed the list of employers partially exempt from the above recordkeeping requirements.  The revised list uses the new method of classification of industries, the North American Industry Classification System (NAICS).  The partially exempt industry list includes: architectural, engineering, & related services; legal services; & drinking places (really!!!), as examples.  For the full list of exempt industries visit OSHA's website on recordkeeping.  In addition, to new exempt industries there are industries that have to start keeping records.  These industries include:  automotive dealers, building material & supplies dealers, & activities related to real estate, for example.  Find the industries that have to start keeping records here.  
Logo for NAICS (North American Industry Classi...
Logo for NAICS (North American Industry Classification System), a system used by the U.S. Census Bureau and others. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

However, this does not exempt these industries or covered industries from reporting to OSHA, within 8 hours, any work-related fatality and reporting work-related in-patient hospitalizations, amputations, or losses of an eye within 24 hours.  This new reporting requirement was also part of the changes that went into effect on January 1, 2015.  Employers can report these events by telephone to the nearest OSHA Area office during normal business hours, or the 24-hour OSHA hotline 1-800-321-OSHA (6742), or electronically through a new tool which is being developed, look for it here.   Should you need any assistance with these requirements contact Future Environment Designs.

Thursday, January 04, 2018

OSHA's Silica Standard - What's All The Fuss About? Part One

Happy New Year!  May your New Year be healthy, profitable, & peaceful!  This blog post we will talk about the silica regulation and what the fuss is all about.  We've heard from some of our clients that they are concerned that the regulation is like the asbestos regulation.  Well in reality the regulation is more like the lead regulation than the asbestos regulation.  The big drop in the permissible exposure limit makes it similar to the asbestos regulation in that visible dust exposures may result in violations, but that's where it ends for similarity.  Table 1 of the silica standard is similar to the 1926.62 (d) (2) of the lead standard which is Protection of Employees During Assessment of Exposure.  Where based on a certain task (i.e., scrapping lead paint) the employer must comply with all parts of the standard, including the use of respirators.  Table 1 in a sense has a similar requirements.
Spraying Water to Keep Dust Levels Down Will Become Common Place
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) released the final rule for respirable crystalline silica 1926.1153 on March 25, 2016 with compliance dates more than one year past the publication date.  Giving the various industries regulated by the standard plenty of time to comply.  In fact, the construction industry was the first industry required to comply by June 23, 2017, however, the current administration delayed the standard until September 23, 2017 giving the construction industry additional time to comply.  In addition, OSHA's silica website is quite robust with guidance documents in helping the industry comply.  With all this time to comply, including challenges to the standard that the courts eliminated, and equipment manufacturers having time to review Table 1 of the standard, complying with the standard is pretty straightforward if you are performing any of 18 tasks in Table 1.

Table 1 tasks involve exposures to respirable crystalline silica when the following tools are used on concrete, brick, block, stone, mortar, and other materials that contain crystalline silica:
  • Stationary masonry saws;
  • Handheld power saws;
  • Handheld power saws for cutting fiber-cement board;
  • Walk-behind saws;
  • Drivable saws;
  • Rig-mounted core saws or drills;
  • Handheld and stand-mounted drills (including impact and rotary hammer drills);
  • Dowel drilling rigs;
  • Vehicle-mounted drilling rigs;
  • Jackhammers and handheld powered chipping tools;
  • Handheld grinders for mortar removal (i.e., tuckpointing);
  • Handheld grinders for uses other than mortar removal;
  • Walk-behind milling machines and floor grinders;
  • Small drivable milling machines;
  • Large drivable milling machines;
  • Crushing machines; and
  • Heavy equipment and utility vehicles when used to abrade or fracture silica containing materials (i.e., hoe-ramming or rock ripping) or used during demolition activities; and 
  • Heavy equipment and utility vehicles when used for tasks such as grading and excavating.
Doing tasks in this manner, we hope will be a thing of the past!
If your work involves Table 1 tasks then determine how long your workers do those tasks and follow the requirements.  If the requirements require a respirator then you may want to reduce the time period a worker does a task so a respirator is not required.  This would be considered an administrative control under hierarchy of controls and perfectly acceptable.  Once you have determined the tasks, the controls, and time periods, the next step is to write your exposure control plan.  The exposure control plan details the tasks, controls, and time periods/respirator requirements and designating a competent person to ensure the exposure control plan is enforced.  The final step is to train the workers and the competent person on the exposure control plan so everyone understands and knows what is required under the plan.

Wearing A Respirator, Adds Significant Costs for Silica Projects

If your exposure control plan requires respirator, then you must meet the requirements of the respirator standard 1910.134, see our blog post regarding the directive which tells you how this standard would be enforced.  This standard would require a medical evaluation of workers to ensure they can wear a respirator, annual respirator fit testing, and annual training on the use of the respirator.  Respirator standard would also require a written program and the designation of a competent person to administer the written program.  In addition, the silica standard would require you provide a medical exam, specifically for silica, if workers use respirators for 30 days or more in a calendar year.  This medical would be required every 3 years.  The medical must include:
  •  medical & work history; 
  • chest x-ray;
  • pulmonary function test; 
  • physical exam focused on the respiratory system; and
  • testing for latent tuberculosis infection.  
After all of the above, the final steps in compliance is maintaining the records, in accordance with 1910.1020, and updating the plans on an annual basis.  1910.1020 standard requires that exposure records be maintained for 30 years from the date of creation and medical records be maintained for duration of employment plus 30 years. 
More Projects Will Look Something Like This
Based on the above information, we think it is pretty obvious that you want to eliminate tasks that involve the use of respirators or reduce the amount time a worker does a task that might require a respirator.  Doing so eliminates the need for the silica medical exam and all the requirements under the respirator standard.  The long term costs involved with meeting the requirements for using a respirator (silica medical exam & respirator standard requirements), we think would outweigh the cost of improving equipment used by workers to meet the requirements of Table 1 for each of the tasks.  We have added some silica courses to our schedule to help you comply with the new standard.  Visit our website for more information.  Happy New Year and Be Safe!  

Monday, December 11, 2017

LITE 2017 Is All About The Fundamentals, Future Environment Designs Develops An Online Course!

Future Environment Designs (FEDTC) would like to wish all of you a Merry Holiday and a Happy New Year!  We look forward to seeing all of you in the New Year.  In September, FEDTC attended the 2017 Leadership, Innovation, Technology, & Evolution (#LITE2017) annual conference in Edinburgh, Scotland.  We attended last year's #LITE2016 conference and wrote about our experience (see Future Environment Designs Attends the LITE 2016 Conference & Is Inspired!).  The conference is run by Administrate, which is the company now handling our training and customer administration.  As many of you know, we use Administrate to provide you digital access to our course manual.  Because of the information we learned this year, you now have access to the exam review slides we use in our classes.  We now offer a few Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) courses online (i.e., respirator users and asbestos awareness) and on adding more.  What attracted us to the LITE conference this year was our desire to delve deeper into the Administrate program and to learn best practices in managing our business.  This year the conference exceeded those goals.  This year there weren't as many inspiring speakers, but many of the speakers gave us fundamental knowledge of the Administrate program and its capabilities.

View from Administrate's Offices
Like last year, the conference followed two tracks Evolution and Innovation, which we mixed and matched the various presentations throughout both days.  All the presentations from the conference can be seen at Administrate's website.  It started with opening remarks from John Peebles the CEO of Administrate, filling us in on Administrate's growth in the United States (based out of Bozeman, Montana) and in the Middle East (based out of Beirut, Lebanon).  Followed by Mike McGrail (@Mike_McGrail, formerly of Administrate and now with Velocity Digital, no kilt this time), speaking on "Busting Modern Marketing Myths".  We then listened to Simon Greany, of Elucidat, discuss "Big Learning: 4 Strategies to Help You Unlock New Revenue Streams with Digital Learning."

Natasha Serafimovska Presentation on Financial Reporting
Many of the presentations afterwards were delving into the inner workings of  the Administrate programs.  These presentations helped us get the best out of the program or gave us ideas of how to improve the information we get from the program.  For example, the presentation by Siobhain Murdoch and our Account Rep Natasha Serafimovska, both from Administrate, discussed "Common Course Pricing Strategies for Training Companies."  From their presentation we learned about creating subscriptions, how training tokens work and how to offer them.   Siobhain Murdoch then joined together with Loki Lau, of Administrate, to discuss "A Deep Dive Into Course Templates," which taught us how to improve the course templates and in particular adding photos to the templates.  Gilles Bell's, of Administrate, presentation on "How to Communicate More Effectively With Students and Customers" provided some ideas we will be implementing with our communications moving forward (first changes will be with the Safety Suzy Newsletter coming out before the end of this month).  The second day started with a 1-2-1 session with our Account Rep Natasha Serafimovska to help us better understand the program and create several reports.  Mark Mullen & Jesse Vernon, both of Administrate, discussed "How to Improve Instructor Led Training (ILT) with eLearning" which made us realize we can significantly improve the materials we are providing you online. 

Ryan Cochrane's presentation on Creating Content That Converts to Leads
Based on the information we learned we have already made several improvements.  For all asbestos refresher courses the manual is online as many of you know already.  In addition, the review for all the asbestos refresher exams is now online, too.  We've created our first online course the respirator user course.  This course is required annually by anyone who uses a respirator.  This will allow you to take the respirator user course "At Your Convenience."  We plan on adding more courses and creating a separate landing page for the "Training At Your Convenience" service, that will include all the different ways we can train your employees, conveniently.  These improvements will help FEDTC continue to improve and offer more ways in meeting our goal of Keeping Your Employees Safe!

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

NYS Department of Labor Publishes Two New Mold Fact Sheets

Since January 1, 2016, New York State Department of Labor (NYSDOL) was designated the responsibility of enforcing the New York State Mold Law, Article 32 "Licensing of Mold Inspection, Assessment, and Remediation Specialists and Minimum Work Standards."  Reading Article 32 is like reading stereo instructions (dating ourself on that one), somethings are very clear while others contradict each other, especially in the sections on the minimum work standards.  Many people in the industry have said NYSDOL needs to write a rule that will clarify the law.  We disagree, though the law is a little confusing, but it is very basic and simple.  There is a saying we love "Be careful what you wish for, you might just get it." (Knowing ourselves, I'm probably misquoting it, but you get the jist)  When regulators write rules they then have to go out for public comment and the next you know you get something that is really confusing and lengthy.  On November 18, 2017, NYSDOL published two new fact sheets:


These two fact sheets are very well written and are perfect for providing to your clients to educate them on what to expect regarding the mold inspection/remediation process in New York State.  Reviewing and discussing these fact sheets are one of the highlights of our mold refresher courses.

Moldy Wall in New Construction
The interesting fact sheet is the newest one, "What to Expect When You Hire a Mold Assessor and Mold Remediation Contractor".  This fact sheet, in our opinion, actually clarifies some of the confusion with Article 32.  The fact sheet was created and designed for the consumer.  However, since it was created and designed by NYSDOL, it gives you insight into what NYSDOL expects from the Mold Assessment and Remediation process.  These are some of the points we think the fact sheet clarifies:

  • The difference between a written passed clearance report and a final status report.
  • Can you write a passed clearance report if the underlying cause (if known) is not corrected?
  • The responsibilities of the mold assessor.
  • The responsibilities of the mold remediation contractor.
  • The use of disinfectants, biocides, and antimicrobial coatings.
  • What happens if a post-remediation assessment is not wanted?
Those of you who took our initial courses or attended one of our presentations at Professional Abatement Contractors of New York (PACNY) or at the Environmental Information Association (EIA), we discussed what we saw as potential liabilities in the law regarding the above issues.  This new fact sheet actually clarifies these points without writing any further rules.  It provides the mold industry with a guideline of what a client should expect when they hire a Mold Assessor or Mold Remediation Contractor.  We look forward to discussing this with you and seeing if you agree. 

Sunday, October 08, 2017

Revisit "Changes Are Coming", Did They? & Save The Dates For PACNY's 2018 Environmental Conference

It has been over six months since we did our presentation "Changes Are Coming" at the Professional Abatement Contractors of New York (PACNY) 2017 Environmental Conference.  We figured it would be a good time to see where we stand with the changes we discussed in our presentation.  Our PACNY presentation can be viewed here if you don't remember it or have not seen it yet:


 We started our presentation with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the appointment of Scott Pruitt as the EPA Administrator.  Mr. Pruitt has been cutting agency staff and aggressive in reducing environmental regulations, all things that were expected once his appointment was announced.  The primary regulation we discussed, under EPA, was the reauthorized Toxic Substance Control Act (TSCA) and the potential for an asbestos ban.  Asbestos was listed by EPA as a top ten chemical listed for review.  However, in June 2017, the EPA released a series of limitations on TSCA, including how broadly the agency will review potentially hazardous substances.  It will be interesting to see how the Pruitt-led EPA will move this along.  It is also interesting that the US which was reducing imports of asbestos for many years (343 metric tons imported in 2015) all of sudden increased imports last year (705 metric tons).  Was the chloralkali and other asbestos using industries increasing inventories in anticipation of a ban?  Not the changes many people were hoping for. 
Brent Kynoch of EIA Presenting at the PACNY Conference
In our next section, we discussed the changes coming to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).  Well probably the best description for what is going on there is delay and re-evaluate.  OSHA still does not have an Administrator to head the Agency.  The first regulation we talked about was the Respirable Crystalline Silica standard which was to take effect in the construction industry by June 23.  OSHA delayed that enforcement to September 23.  Then delayed that enforcement for employers making a good faith effort to comply for another 30 days (see the OSHA memorandum here).  The next standard, the Beryllium standard has been delayed by a proposed rule-making on June 27, 2017.  This rule-making would eliminate the ancillary provisions (determining whether other sections of the OSHA construction and shipyard standards provide adequate protection) but not the lowered permissible exposure limit (0.2 micrograms per cubic meter) and the short term exposure limit (STEL of 2.0 micrograms per cubic meter, over a 15 minute sampling period).  OSHA has published a fact sheet (click here for the fact sheet) on the proposed rule-making.   The rule requiring companies to electronically submit injury and illness information was delayed from July 1, 2017 to December 1, 2017.  OSHA's Injury Tracking Application is now available and can be accessed here.  Remember establishments with 20-249 employees in certain high-risk industries (i.e., Construction, Services to Buildings & Dwellings, and Remediation & other waste management services) must submit information from its 2016 Form 300A by December 1, 2017.  Probably the most significant change at OSHA has been the elimination on OSHA's website of the ticker that listed the fatalities that have occurred daily across the country and the reduction of publishing employers who have been issued significant violations.

Thursday Night In the Vendor Hall

Our final section was reserved for New York State (NYS) regulations in particular the asbestos and mold state regulations.  Nothing has changed for the asbestos regulation, but our desire for Asbestos Hazard Emergency Response Act (AHERA) type clearance testing for all floor tile projects opened up a healthy debate (see our blogpost "Asbestos Floor Tile Debate Results" and our article in Healthy Indoors Magazine).  The NYS's Mold Law Article 32 still does not have regulations and so nothing has changed regarding the mold supervisor, how to pass clearance, if the underlying cause is not fixed, etc.  However, NYS Department of Labor did publish a renewal process.  To renew your license you will need to take a 4-hour mold refresher course and resubmit your paperwork with the appropriate fee (see our blogpost "Future Environment Designs Approved to Offer NYSDOL Mold Refresher Courses"). 

Friday's NYSDOL Roundtable
The 2018 PACNY Environmental Conference will be held from February 28 to March 3, 2018 at the Turning Stone Casino in Verona, New York.  Its too early yet for the registration information and speakers, but you can expect Thursday Night in Vendor Hall and NYSDOL will probably be there on Friday, March 3.  We look forward to seeing you there.