Sunday, December 25, 2016

A Merry Holidays and a Happy New Year to all of you! Future Environment Designs Closed Until January 4, 2017!

We wish all of you a Merry Holidays, we hope the coming year brings you health, and happiness!  As usual, we are closed from December 23 - January 4, 2017.  We look forward to seeing all of you during the New Year!  We are very excited by this coming New Year since we are expanding the blended learning we started after our Edinburgh trip to LITE2016.

Rockefeller Centre Christmas Tree 2016
We started the process by putting our course manuals online and providing you access to the manuals and the student portal for 365 days.  We continue the process by now including an online course evaluation process through Coursecheck, that will eliminate the paper forms.  The next phase we are planning is an online examination process which should make it easier to take the exams and further reduce paper documents.  To help those who don't have portable devices we will be supplying these devices in our classes.  We are awaiting the supply of fifteen (15) Surface 3 tablets with keyboards so we can facilitate the blended learning we are morphing our classes into.  We hope our students are just as excited as we are, as we move into this new more informative and interactive training method.  We look forward to greeting you in the New Year with these new training methods!
English: Blended learning methodology graphic
English: Blended learning methodology graphic (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Thursday, November 03, 2016

Future Environment Designs Attends the LITE 2016 Conference & Is Inspired!

On September 23-24, Future Environment Designs (FEDTC) attended the Learning, Innovation, Technology, Evolution (LITE) 2016 Conference held in Edinburgh, Scotland.  This was the first year we attended this conference and it probably won't be the last.  The conference is run by Administrate, which is the company now handling our training and customer administration.  We were also invited to be on a customer panel during the conference, which we will discuss further below.  What attracted us to the LITE conference was the ability to learn more about the Administrate program and meet others who are using the program.  Not only did the conference and workshops deliver on that goal, it far exceeded our expectations.  Several of the conference speakers were absolutely inspiring and made us realize the good work being done out there to assist those less fortunate.

The Scotsman Newspaper Article LITE 2016 
Day one of the conference started with Mike McGrail (@Mike_McGrail), Marketing Director for Administrate, doing the opening and introduction.  We met Mr. McGrail previously, when we first were considering to sign-up with Administrate, we met with him and our current rep Natasha Serafimovska and then met again at a cocktail/dinner party held for those presenting and on the customer panels at Brasserie Les Amis (the food was awesome!).  Mr. McGrail is quite entertaining and very proud of his Scottish heritage (yes, he wore a kilt!).  The first speaker was Gavin Oattes, MD of Tree of Knowledge, his presentation "How do you Fit a Giraffe in a Fridge?" really was mind opening and created a pathway for a different frame of reference.  Nicki Turing & Edmund Pinto, of the Alan Turing Trust, discussed how providing used computers are helping educate students in Ghana.  Joe Harb, of Interactive Life, discussed "Personalised Education Using Technology:  From Corporate to Refugees" and how to personalize education for corporations to help expand borders and for refugees who feel left behind.  John Bendel, of Lingo 24, discussing "The Need for a Multi-language Approach" and the importance of training materials to be in multiple languages (only 9% of the world speaks English, something to really consider as a training business).  The first customer panel included Deborah Fyfe of IA Seminars, Kevin Streater of ForgeRock, & Mathew Channell of Training South Wales, and was moderated by Richard Cassidy, Director Sales for Administrate.  The panel discussed the challenges in their training business and how technology was bringing success to their businesses.  Mike McQuaid of GitHub, spoke on "Remote Working: What, Why and How?"  His speech described the various benefits of working remotely; productivity increase, happy employees, & saving the planet to name a few.  John Peebles the CEO of Administrate spoke on "Creating the Ultimate Human Organisation" and discussed how they have gone to a 4-day work week.  The final speaker on the first day was John Romero, Creator of Legendary Video Games, who spoke on "The Value of Games in Education."  The day ended with a Pub Crawl (our crawl included The Blind Poet, the Potting Shed, and the BeeHive Inn) that ended at Administrate HQ (drinks & pizza!).  The lunch was catered by Regis Banqueting and it was fantastic, we had the Lamb Tangine!  We went to several workshops and support sessions also being held during the conference.

John Romero Speaking at LITE 2016
Day two started with Olivia Giles of 500 Miles, telling us her story of how she had to face change in her speech "The Challenges and Opportunities of Change."  Olivia Giles survived the blood poisoning form of meningitis by having both her lower legs and both her lower arms amputated.  She has since founded the charity 500 Miles which helps disabled people in Malawi & Zambia who have lost limbs or the use of limbs to enjoy maximum mobility and body function by helping them gain access to artificial limbs and limbs supports.  If we weren't already inspired from the first day of speeches, this speech sent us over the top!  Kevin Streater of ForgeRock had the unenviable task of following Olivia Giles and did an excellent job of maintaining the enthusiasm with "How Administrate Changed Our Training Business."  Definitely caught our attention with the ability to triple his business without increasing staff.  Suzanna Doyle-Morris of inclusIQ, discussing how they use blended learning to train people on inclusion & diversity, was the next speaker.  Mike McGrail of Administrate next discussed "The Importance of Personas in Understanding Your Customer" and how that effects marketing.  Up next was Dr. Kathryn Waite of Heriot-Watt University speaking on "Digital Empowerment."  Next we had the honor and pleasure to sit on a customer panel with Anna Hastie of University of York, and Steve Booker of Kentec Training (his company's story on Administrate convinced us to sign up).  Visit the LITE 2016 Speakers site to see the customer panel we were on and our discussion about our challenges and technology.  After the panel, Kasper Spiro of Easygenerator spoke on "User Generated Content: The Next Trend" and the conference ended with an inspirational talk "Reaching for the Stars" by Graham Obree - Record Breaking Cycling Legend.

Graham Obree Speaking at LITE 2016
Their were several emotions we experienced during this conference; overwhelmed, amazement, excited, hopeful, inspiration, and empowered.  The main thing this conference did for us was made us realize how powerful a tool the Administrate program is.  We are hopeful & overwhelmed with the capabilities of this program.  We are excited and amazed on the value we could add to our customers training experience.  Most importantly we feel this program will empower and inspire us with the ability to increase our business, increase our reach to more customers outside our current territory, and Keeping More of Your Employees Safe!
LITE 2016 was held at The Assembly Roxy  

Monday, September 12, 2016

Its Been 15 Years Since 9/11. 4 Things We Have Learned!

On September 11, 2001, two planes were flown into the twin towers of the World Trade Center.  Those two planes caused the collapse of the buildings and the killing of 2,996 people and injuring over 6,000 others.  When they collapsed, a massive plume of dust was released into the air.  In addition, fires burned at Ground Zero for more than 90 days continuing to spew contaminants into the air.  Then-EPA chief Christine Whitman encouraged workers and residents to head back to Lower Manhattan saying the air was "safe to breathe.."  Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani repeated her claim by saying "to go back to normal" and the air around Ground Zero was "safe as far as we can tell, with respect to chemical and biological agents."  Though some experts, like Mount Sinai's Dr. Philip Landrigan, warned that it was not.

New York City pre-9/11
Will 15 years later we now know that Whitman did not have sufficient information to make that claim and recently has admitted she was wrong.  Studies of the dust have shown significant quantities of carcinogens, irritants, and poisons.  Contaminants like polyaromatic hydrocarbons, dioxin, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), fiberglass, lead, asbestos, volatile organic compounds, etc.  The pH of the dust was basic.  Records have shown the City knew of the hazards of the dust and air.  Expediency of the cleanup and the recovery was more important at Ground Zero, than protecting workers from the toxic dust at the site.  The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) was only onsite acting in an advisory role and obviously had little impact on the health consequences of the workers.  As has been printed in numerous articles and pictures many did not wear the respirators they were provided or were provided the incorrect respirator.
Various Respirators Worn During Recovery & Cleanup
The result from this lack of concern regarding the dust?  Will 15 years later we know, that the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) estimates roughly 400,000 people - including rescue and recovery workers, residents, students and school staff, building occupants and passersby - were exposed.   As of July 2016, nearly 75,000 were enrolled in the World Trade Center Health Program (this program was established by the James L. Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act of 2011).  56,580 of the people enrolled are from the Fire Department of New York and other responders.  8,881 are civilians that were exposed to the toxic dust.  Based on the CDC estimate that means hundreds of thousands of people remain unaccounted for and maybe untreated.  The World Trade Center Health Program is monitoring over 30,000 people and is treating 23,000 people.  On December 18, 2015, President Obama signed a law that reauthorized the Zadroga Act that extended funding for the World Trade Center Health Program through 2090.

English: New York, NY, September 28, 2001 -- D...

Photograph by Andrea Booher taken on 09-28-2001 in New York

The statistics from the program can be found on the CDC website for the program.  These responder statistics show 18,639 members suffer from rhinosinusitis; 16,418 members suffer from gastroesophageal reflux symptoms (GERD); 10,274 members suffer from asthma; 6,532 members suffer from respiratory disorders; 5,639 suffer from post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and 1,033 members suffer from prostate cancer.  The New York City Health Department's research found that for all cancer types more cancer cases were found among rescue/recovery workers and civilian survivors compared with the New York State general population between 2007-2011 (11% and 8% respectively).  A 2011 study found that 8 years after 9/11, the prevalence of several respiratory conditions among 10,999 World Trade Center exposed male firefighters remained high in comparison to men in the general population.
One World Trade Center
What have we learned?  First, we should heed the warnings of experts, not politicians.  Second, respirators are an essential and mandatory part of any emergency recovery/cleanup.  Third, safety is important but not if we sacrifice health.  Finally, dust generated by disasters, calamities, and emergencies cannot be underestimated in its potential health risk.  Yesterday, was a day to remember and mourn those who died at 9/11.  It was also a day to remember the mistakes made by those who disregarded the dust from the World Trade Center and make sure those mistakes don't happen again!
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Friday, August 26, 2016

OSHA Fines Increase By 78%, Will That Lead To An Increase in Safety Consulting & Training?

Starting on August 1, 2016, employers who have Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) violations issued on or after this date for violations occurring on or after November 2, 2015 are subject to the new OSHA maximum civil penalties (fines) that are 78% higher.  This civil penalty increase was mandated by Congress, on November 2, 2015, through legislation that required all federal agencies to adjust their civil penalties to account for inflation.  For OSHA, the last time these penalties were adjusted was back in 1990.  Moving forward, as the legislation requires, the penalties will be adjusted each year based on the Consumer Price index.  OSHA will continue to do penalty reductions based on the size of the employer and other factors.

The following table shows based on the type of violation what the old fine was compared to the civil penalty increase:

OSHA Penalty Adjustments To Take Effect After August 1, 2016
Current Maximum Penalty
New Maximum Penalty
Other-Than-Serious Posting Requirements
$7,000 per violation
$12,471 per violation
Failure to Abate
$7,000 per day beyond the abatement date
$12,471 per day beyond the abatement date
Willful or Repeated
$70,000 per violation
$124,709 per violation

It is important to realize violations such as not performing respirator fit testing on your staff, or having a respiratory protection or hazard communication programs will now be $12,471 per violation.  Add to this OSHA's new reporting requirement that goes into effect on January 1, 2017.  This new reporting requirement requires electronic submission of injury and illness information that already is being collected.  The difference is this information will be made available to the public.  The idea is that with information being available to the public, employers will focus more on safety.  The new reporting regulation also anticipates an improvement in the accuracy of the data, because it prohibits employers from discouraging workers from reporting injuries and illnesses.  This part of the rule went into effect on August 10, 2016 (hey that's my birthday), however, OSHA has delayed enforcement till November 1, 2016.  It seems to us these two changes will create the perfect storm for employers to have an additional need for safety & health training and consulting.

Angelo Garcia, III Speaking at PACNY 2016
OSHA's website discussing the increase in civil penalties can be found here.  While the OSHA website discussing the new reporting requirements can be found here.

Friday, July 22, 2016

PACNY's Annual Pro/Am Fishing Tournament Was A Whale of a Good Time!

As we write this post, we are snacking on some of the salmon we caught and cured during this year's fishing derby.  It is absolutely delicious!  Creamy & buttery with a little hint of peat.  Love eating it plain, it doesn't need any garnish or bread.  Oops!  Sorry we're getting carried away.  The third annual (really the fourth annual, last year the weather was too rough to go fishing) Professional Abatement Contractors of New York's (PACNY's) Pro/Am Fishing Tournament (you say tournament, we still like derby) was a success.  There was 18 boats that went out of Point Breeze at Oak Orchard Creek to brave the Lake Ontario waters and see what we could catch this year.  A big THANK YOU to PACNY for again sponsoring this Tournament, giving us more opportunities to get together and network.  Here was this year's lineup of PACNY members and the boat they were on:

Lining Up for the Shotgun Start

Abscope on the Chrysalis
Cornerstone Training Institute on the Sunrise II
Cornerstone Training Institute 2 (NRC) on the Legacy
Paradigm Environmental on the Free Spirit
Future Environment Designs on the Catchin Hell
Aramsco on the Runnin Rebel
LeChase on the U-Betcha
Rochester Environmental on the Irish Thunder
Envoy on the Rusty Lure
Environmental Contracting and Construction on the Reflection
AAC Contracting Inc on the Troutman
AmVets courtesy Sullivan Contracting on the Intimidator
United Rentals Rochester on the Screaming Reels
Dival Safety on the Reel Excitement
Dival Safety #2 on the Just Eleven
ECG on the Richmond 4
Greenleaf/Watts on the Rally Killer
AAC Contracting Inc #2 on the Shotgun

The day started out beautifully with a nice sunrise over Lake Ontario.  We started loading the boats around 5:50 in the morning.  PACNY's Darren Yehl organized the event again and was as efficient as the attendees allowed.  Everybody was ready for the shotgun start at or about 6:30.  As our usual we took the luck of the draw and this year our boat was named "Catchin Hell", with Captain Tom and first mate Mike.
Sunrise over Lake Ontario
It was a beautiful day out on the lake.  The sun was hot but there was a nice breeze.  We caught three king salmon, two steelhead trout and one rainbow trout.  Veronica Garcia caught the big fish this year and the one that got away "coulda been a contender!"  After the weigh-in, we enjoyed a delicious lunch at the Black North Inn, while being serenaded by Acoustically Sound.  This year's prizes and the winners were:

Big Box of Three Fish:  1st: $350  2nd: $200  3rd: $100
Biggest Fish:  1st: $350  2nd: $200  3rd: $100
The final weigh-in numbers!
Though this year we didn't finish in the money, we still had a great time and we brought home a lot of fish.  This year we tried a new recipe for salt/sugar curing the salmon.  We even created our own version of the cure by adding Islay Scotch Whiskey to the cure.  Needless to say we're in-love with our recipe.  For the original recipe visit  Plans are already being set in motion for next year's fishing derby (tournament).  We would like to host our own boat next year.  If you think you would be interested send us an email so we can start making plans.  The Tournament is always on a Wednesday and usually the second or third one in July.  We're already looking forward to the adventure!
Veronica Garcia, Capt. Tom , & the Big Fish! 
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