Friday, February 17, 2017

Is It Really Here Again! The 21st Annual PACNY Environmental Conference Starts March 1, 2017.

This year the Professional Abatement Contractors of New York (PACNY) Conference seemed to sneak up on us.  It's only two weeks away.  The first day of the 21st Annual PACNY Environmental Conference is on Wednesday, March 1, 2017 at 11:30 AM.  To register for the conference visit PACNY's website.  The conference will start with lunch from 11:30 AM to 12:30 PM, with Kevin Malone of New York State Department of Health (NYS DOH) kicking off the presentations.  Mr. Malone is in charge of the division that regulates asbestos training providers.  Next up will be Don Pierce from NYS Department of Labor (NYS DOL) updating us on the Asbestos Hazard Emergency Response Act (AHERA) auditing (an EPA grant allows NYS DOL to perform the auditing for Environemtal Protection Agency (EPA)).  Then the first day of the conference will end with a Variance Writing Workshop led by Kevin Hutton of Cornerstone Training.

Dival's Booth at PACNY
The second day of the conference has another great lineup of speakers.  Dr. Marty Rutstein returns speaking about "Talc with Tremolite and Other Amphiboles"; and Tom Laubenthal also returns speaking about "Using ASTM E2356 to Meet "Thorough Inspection Requirements" Prior to Renovation and Demolition Activities".  Dival Safety will be doing Fall Protection Demonstration, considering OSHA's emphasis on fall hazards it will be intereasting to see the different equipment avalable.  Ed Stuber of Galson Laboratories will update us on the OSHA Silica standard; Dr. Chris Goulah will discuss "Legionella"; Jim Redmond will update us on OSHA; and Jim Haklar will discuss PCB Case Studies.  Brent Kynoch of the Environmental Information Association (EIA) eill update us on EIA and the Toxic Substance Control Act (TSCA).  Then Cole Stanton of Fiberlock Technologies will update us on Mold/Fire/Water.  That will close out the second day bringing us to the Vendor Reception and Happy Hour!

Vendor Reception
Angelo Garcia, III of Future Environment Designs, Inc (FEDTC) will start the last day of the conference.  "Changes Are A Coming" is the title of our presentation and it will be about all the changes occurring in our industry this year.  We will hand off to Jack Springston of TRC who will speak about the "Pitfalls with Doing Mold Clearance Sampling as Part of a Post-Remediation Verification"  We are very much looking forward to Jack's presentation!  Then the culmination of the conference with the NYSDOL panel consisting of Dr. Eileen Franko - Director of Division of Safety and Health; Kirk Fisher - Licensing and Certification; Ed Smith, PE - Engineering Services Unit; and James Meacham, PE - Asbestos Control Bureau.  There is a rumor going around that the release of the new Industrial Code Rule 56 (ICR56) might happen at this meeting.  As usual, we are excited about the event and several people behind the scenes do a significant amount of work to make the conference such a success each year.  Very big thank yous to Lisa Brown and Deborah Sanscrainte for all the work they do to keep everyone focused and moving forward in putting this event together!

Deborah Sanscrainte Welcoming Everyone to PACNY
Future Environment Designs is a sponsor of the event and we will have our booth in the vendor hall.  Kimberly Granmoe and Sheryl Esposito will be ladying booth 19 (next to Dival Safety Supplies) as they have in the past.  So come and visit us.  Our Twitter feed for the conference will be #FEDTCPACNY, we will tweet photos and major speaker points during the conference.  We hope to see you at the conference! 

Kimberly Granmoe, Sheryl Esposito, Veronica and Angelo Garcia, III

Friday, February 03, 2017

It's That Time Again! Did You Remember to POST Your OSHA 300A Form!

On February 1, covered employers were required to post the Occupational Safety and Health Administration's (OSHA) 300A form.  The 300A form summarizes the information that is 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, 2015 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 300A Form

A final rule was announced back on September 11, 2014, which went into effect January 1, 2015, changing 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 start keeping records here.  

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.

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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