Tuesday, May 15, 2018

OSHA Fines Increase - Silica Rule Enforcement Ramps Up

On January 2, 2018, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has increased the maximum civil penalties (fines) for serious, other-than-serious, and posting requirements to $12,934, from $12,471.  Failure to Abate violations have increased to $12,934 per day beyond the abatement date from $12,471 and Willful/Repeat violations have increased to $129,336 from $124,709.  These civil penalty increases were mandated by Congress, on November 2, 2015, through legislation that required all federal agencies to adjust their civil penalties to account for inflation.  OSHA increased their penalties on August 1, 2016, the link to our previous blog post discussing that increase is below.  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.

Properly Using Table 1 Will Avoid a Violation
According to April 24, 2018, article by Bloomberg Environment, OSHA and state programs have cited the silica rule 116 times since September 23, 2017.  With OSHA ramping up enforcement of the respirable crystalline silica rule (1926.1153) incorrectly following Table 1 procedures (cited 27% of the time), and not measuring worker exposures (cited 30% of the time), can result in a serious violation at the cost of $12,934 each.  Not training workers about silica or not having a silica exposure plan may result in other-than-serious violations that could cost $12,934 each.

Using this Equipment, we can Measure Silica Exposures

OSHA's website discussing the increase in civil penalties can be found here.  While the OSHA website discussing the silica rule requirements can be found here.

Monday, May 07, 2018

PACNY's Environmental Conference, Part Three - Bomb Cyclone Hits

Winter Storm Riley at Turning Stone Casino
On the final day of the Professional Abatement Contractors of New York (PACNY) 22nd Annual Environmental Conference, we awoke in the middle of Winter Storm Riley which turned into a Nor'easter and hit Turning Stone Casino between Thursday night & Friday Morning, March 1-2, 2018 with about 7 inches of snow.  Some attendees left before the storm hit putting a further dampener on attendance.  Because of the storm, there was some concern that New York State Department of Labor (NYSDOL) would not be able to attend.  Because of a good Samaritan who helped NYSDOL representatives who were in the area get to the conference and the technological genius of Bob Krell, of Healthy Indoors Magazine, and Kevin Hutton, of Cornerstone Training, Dr. Eileen Franko was also present.

Peter Delucia, of AAC Contracting, discussing Crystalline Respirable Silica
The last day of the conference started with Peter Delucia, AAC Contracting, discussing "Managing the Many Facets of the Silica in Construction Standard."  Mr. Delucia did a great job presenting on topic and provided some excellent references related to preventing exposures, sampling, and complying with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) silica standard 1926.1153.  Mr. Delucia's presentation helped us develop our training courses for silica and our blog post "OSHA's Silica Standard - What's All the Fuss About?, Part Two".

NYSDOL's Presentation with Dr. Franco on Screen

The final presentation of the conference was the managers from NYSDOL, the Director Dr. Eileen Franko, present by video conference; Program Manager of Asbestos Control Bureau, Mr.  James Meachum PE;  Program Manager of Licensing & Certification Unit, Mr. Kirk Fisher; and Program Manager of Engineering Services Unit, Mr. Ed Smith, PE.  Some of the major points included:

  • Mr. Smith, announcing that they are looking into releasing some Fast Track Variances that would speed up the process of filing for a variance.  These variances could be used as they are written with no changes and those could be approved faster.
  • Mr. Smith gave us an update on the changes to Industrial Code Rule 56, including a Senate Bill (S06492) and Assembly Bill (A08254) that would remove the 1974 date from regulation for demolitions.  Mr. Smith also discussed some of the changes to New York City Department of Environmental Protection (NYCDEP) asbestos regulation Title 15.
  • Mr. Fisher announced a change in filing for a mold license for assessment and remediation companies that will require separate applications for a company license and an individual license for owners.
  • After being questioned when the removal of social security numbers from asbestos application process would happen.  Mr.Fisher informed us that would not happen in the foreseeable future.  The system they have is antiquated and there is no funding for updating it.  The system uses social security numbers to identify the holders of the various certificates.
  • Mr. Meachum discussed full-time asbestos project monitoring and the responsibilities of the project monitors being added to asbestos variances.
  • Mr. Meachum discussed the mold fact sheets that NYSDOL developed and they strongly recommend the fact sheets be provided to mold assessment/remediation clients.  In addition, Mr. Meachum announced that the first violations were sent out under Article 32, the Mold Licensing Law.  The violations were for not having a license and performing work and/or advertising as a mold professional. 

Steve Winograd & me at the PACNY Conference 
Attendance on the last day was down but it was still an excellent conference with lots of useful information.  We cannot say this enough about the excellent and hard work that Ms. Deborah Sanscrainte, of Aramsco, the conference chairperson and Ms. Lisa Brown, of Summit Environmental, Administrator put in to make the conference as good as it is.  Congratulations to the PACNY Board, as they continue to show why they are leaders for the abatement industry in New York State.

Sunday, April 22, 2018

PACNY's Second Day, Part Two - A Storm is Coming!

The second day of the Professional Abatement Contractors of New York's (PACNY's) 22nd Annual Environmental Conference started with a continental breakfast in the Vendor/Exhibit Hall at the Turning Stone Casino, which seemed fuller than previous conferences.  Ms. Deb Sanscrainte, of Aramsco & the Conference Chair and Mr. Joseph Cantone, of Colden Corp. & the PACNY President welcomed everybody & gave us opening remarks.

Ms. Reinstein discussing Asbestos Exposure

The first presenter of the day was the keynote speaker Ms. Linda Reinstein, of the Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization (ADAO) and the Global Ban Asbestos Network (GBAN), discussing "Mitigating Asbestos Exposure in the 21st Century."  It was a rousing presentation and very inspirational.  In addition, Ms. Reinstein announced the launch of her new kNOwAsbestos website.  A one-stop resource guide for you to learn about asbestos and what to do about it.  Our next speaker was Mr. Michael Misenhimer, of the Northeastern Subcontractors Association (NESCA).  His presentation was on "The Fight to Get Paid - Practical Strategies for Subcontractors" and included a valuable 11 point hand-out that he was kind of enough to allow us to add to our dropbox folder (under conference presentations) on Future Environment Designs website's resource page.  Mr. Misenhimer's presentation was on the 11 point hand-out that recommended that subcontractors investigate the General Contractor (i.e., credit evaluation); condition your bid on your payment terms, establish entitlement to prompt payment; clarify retainage provisions; use your payment bond rights and other important information on making sure you get paid-in-full.  His hand-out included example letters to use for each of the 11 points.  The end of his presentation brought us to the first break and time in the Vendor/Exhibit Hall.

Mr. Michael Misenhimer & his 11 Point Hand-out
We returned from the break to Mr. Richard Clarkson of the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYS DEC) discussing "Part 360 Revisions and Solid Waste Regulations".  Mr. Clarkson's presentation discussed the definition of friable asbestos; when fill must be tested to be reused; what fill must be tested for to be reused; waste transporter registration; and waste reporting & recordkeeping.  Our next speaker was Mr. Adam Schrader, of Ecospect, discussing "Healthy Basement, Healthy Home".  Mr. Schrader's presentation discussed the multitude of contaminants that exists in the home and the workplace and wicking/capillary action a source of moisture for floors & walls.  After Mr. Schrader's presentation, we broke for a fantastic lunch and more networking opportunities.

Ms. Sheryl Esposito at the FEDTC Booth in Vendor/Exhibit Hall
After lunch, the conference continued with Mr. Tom Stebbins of the Lawsuit Reform Alliance of New York speaking on asbestos litigation, fraud in the litigation arena, and contradictory claims.  Up next was Mr. Bob Krell - PACNY's Media Partner Healthy Indoors Magazine and IAQ Technologies discussing "Avoiding Pitfalls of Mold Investigators & Remediation Projects."  Mr. Krell discussed the limitations of mold air sampling and using relative humidity for mold assessments; and discussed a rough method to determine if a HEPA filter is working utilizing laser particle counters for mold remediation.  Our final presenter for Day Two was Mr. Adam Andrews of the American Council of Accredited Certifications (ACAC) who discussed the "Advantages of Certification for Indoor AIr Quality".  Mr. Andrews discussed the differences between Third-party Accreditation Programs between Council for Engineering and Scientific Specialty Boards (CESB), American National Standards Institute (ANSI), and National Commission of Certifying Agencies (NCCA) and ACAC's Council-certified Indoor Environmental Supervisor.

Adam Andrews Discussing ACAC's Council-certified Indoor Environmental Supervisor
That ended day two of the conference.  After the last presentation, we went to the Vendor's Reception in the Exhibit Hall.  Continued networking in the exhibit hall, spent time with Dr. David Dulford, of CanAm Environmental Safety, Dival Safety Equipment Suppliers; Grayling Industries; Frederico Demolition;  Aramsco; Duke Company; and our good friend and no longer competitor Mr. Steve Winograd, of EMSL.  We also had a great time at Dival's after party!  Day two's presentations provided valuable information that will plan on using in the various courses we offer at Future Environment Designs.  Stay tuned for Day Three as the storm hit Turning Stone that night.

Vendor's Reception in the Exhibit Hall

Sunday, March 25, 2018

Winter Storm Impacts PACNY Conference, Part One.

Turning Stone Lodge before the Storm
This year was the Professional Abatement Contractors of New York (PACNY) 22nd Annual Environmental Conference.  This year's conference was overshadowed by Winter Storm Riley which turned into a Nor'easter and hit Turning Stone Casino between Thursday night & Friday Morning, March 1-2, 2018 with about 7 inches of snow.  Which put a dampener on attendance with only a few Long Islanders making the conference this year.  However, the Vendor Display/Exhibit Hall seemed to have the usual amount of vendors, maybe we even had more than the usual.  This year's schedule was a little different from past years in that presenters were given a little more time for their presentations and more time was given between presentations to spend in the Vendor Display/Exhibit Hall.  As usual the PACNY Board did an excellent job of putting everything together, which special accolades to Ms. Deborah Sanscrainte of Aramsco, the conference chairperson and Ms. Lisa Brown of Summit Environmental, Administrator.

Mr. Meacham discussing the Enforcement Process

The first day, known as Proficiency Workshop day consisted of two presentations the first was Mr. James Meacham, PE, program manager for New York State Department of Labor' (NYSDOL)'s Asbestos Control Bureau (ACB), discussing "Solving the Mysteries of the Asbestos Control Bureau".  Mr. Meacham's presentation went through the process of an inspection, the issuance of a Notice of Violation (NOV), and then continued with the process of resolving the NOV.  His presentation did an excellent job of bringing transparency to the enforcement process.  A key point of Mr. Meacham's presentation, was the response from the contractor (violator) issued the NOV.  Contractors have two opportunities to address a violation, onsite during the inspection and the second time, is when responding to the written violation.  Onsite, if their is no dispute contractors should stop work, fix the discrepancy(ies) and document the actions in the logbook.  If there is a discrepancy, contractors should work towards complying with what can be done, document your position on the deficiency, and document your corrective actions in the logbook.  When a violator receives a violation,  the contractor should review the project with their staff, gather the compliance documentation, and submit a response to the NOV.  This is important part of the process and could go a long way in mitigating violations.

Mr. Meacham discussing the Violation Review Process
The second presenter was Mr. Kevin Hutton, of Cornerstone Training Institute, discussing "Complexities of NYSDOL, OSHA, and EPA".  Mr. Hutton provided a handout called a "Guide to NYS CR56-11.1 In-Plant Operations", this guide provided basic information regarding how Industrial Code Rule 56 handles the requirements for in-plant operations and what Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) 1926.1101 work practices would apply under in-plant operations.  In addition, Mr. Hutton's presentation, discussed NYSDOL Engineering Service Unit's addition of full-time project monitoring to many variance applications.  The additions have included wording of what the responsibilities of the project monitor are for these variances (since Industrial Code Rule 56, itself, does not provide much information regarding that).  Which brings up the question whether project monitors realize the scope of their responsibilities on such projects.  We suspect not, since we've already seen some project monitors being issued violations for not following the variance requirements.


Mr. Hutton discussing full-time Project Monitoring added to Variances
That ended the first day of presentations, with later that evening the PACNY President's (Joseph Cantone, of Colden Corporation) reception was held, where many of us gathered and discussed concerns regarding the pending storm.  Stay tuned for Part Two the Technical Sessions and the Vendor Reception!

Friday, March 09, 2018

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

In our previous post, we discussed that as long as you were performing tasks that were listed in Table 1 of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) Respirable Crystalline Silica 1926.1153 standard we didn't see what all the fuss was about.  Even if some tasks required a respirator some of those tasks would allow you to use an administrative control (have the worker do the task for 4 hours or less) to eliminate the respirator requirement.  The fuss is all about those tasks that do not eliminate respirator usage (i.e, Task (x) Jackhammers and handheld powered chipping tools with a water delivery system at the point of impact, used indoors or in an enclosed area) in Table 1 or a task not listed in Table 1.  We already discussed the requirements, if Table 1 requires a respirator in Part One of this blog.  So the question is what is required if your task is not listed in Table 1 or you can't fully & properly implement the engineering controls, work practices, and respiratory protection described in Table 1?  Well that's a long story and that's what all the fuss is all about!

Mr. Peter Delucia's Silica Presentation at the PACNY Conference
Before we get into this long story, we would like to thank Mr. Peter Delucia, of AAC Contracting, for his assistance in helping us write this blog post.  Mr. Delucia's presentation at the Professional Abatement Contractors of New York (PACNY) 22nd Annual Environmental Conference was jam packed with examples, references, and information out in the internet to assist employers wanting to comply with this standard.  Much of that information helped us write this post.


If you can't use Table 1 (the above video would be a Table 1 activity), then you have to use an alternative exposure control method (d).  Which first requires that no employee be exposed to an airborne concentration of respirable crystalline silica ( silica) in excess of 50 micrograms per cubic meter (ug/m3), calculated as an 8-hour Time Weighted Average (TWA).  Second employers must perform an exposure assessment (d)(2)(i) for each employee who is or may reasonably be expected to be exposed to silica at or above the action level (25 ug/m3).  Here you have two choices either the performance option (d)(2)(ii) or scheduled monitoring option (d)(2)(iii).  The performance option allows combination of air monitoring or objective data that is sufficient to accurately characterize employee exposures to silica. The performance option can be almost like Table 1 in that the employer can use objective data that is created by others to determine employee exposures to silica.  Some manufacturers are creating objective data for their tools (i.e., Milwaukee Tool, which has some objective data information for some of their tools and shrouds).  You can use these by just following the instructions on the objective data and making sure you meet the conditions listed in objective data.  The second choice is to perform initial monitoring (scheduled monitoring) to assess the 8-hour TWA exposures for each employee on the basis of one or more personal breathing zone air samples that reflect the exposures of employees on each shift, for each job classification, in each work area.  Which means you need to have the personal air sampling equipment and a laboratory for analysis of your air samples.  This is a little complicated and because most people are unfamiliar with how to do personal air sampling, this can be quite intimidating!


However, with the proper training (we do a respirable crystalline silica competent person course) and a good laboratory to support your efforts the competent person could perform the sampling necessary to meet the OSHA requirements.  There is some basic equipment that is needed to do sampling (as you can see from the video above).  One of the most important pieces is the personal air sampling pump.  These pumps are portable and are usually worn on the waist of the person you want to determine their exposure.  There are quite a few manufacturers of these pumps (Sensidyne, maker of Gillian sample pumps & SKC, maker of Universal sample pumps, etc.).  You want these pumps to be durable and be able to handle a drop here and there.  Purchasing these pumps is not a bad idea but before you consider doing that we need to remind you that these pumps need to be calibrated against a primary standard at least every three months.  Primary standards are not cheap (Buck Calibrator & Gilibrator, etc).  So unfortunately, its not that easy to buy the pumps and use them.  If you don't intend on using these pumps regularly a better choice would be to rent the pumps from a laboratory.  Then have the laboratory maintain and calibrate the pumps when they send them to you.  This also allows for billing the equipment to specific projects.  There are quite a few labs that can help you in that way (SGS Galson & EMSL, etc.).  This way you can tell them what you are sampling and they will send you the equipment and sampling media you need for doing the sampling and incorporate the analysis price for the whole exposure assessment.  They will also send you instructions on using the equipment properly, sample & chain of custody forms for doing the sampling, as needed. The samplers for silica are pictured below and you will want to use either one of these samplers.  The standard then goes into how often you will need to do scheduled monitoring based on the results, employee notification of results, and observation of monitoring results.

Personal Pump with PPI sampler for silica
Breathing zone sampling with aluminum cyclone sampler for silica

Once you have determined which method you are using (Exposure Assessments, or Scheduled monitoring), the employer must have a written exposure control plan.  The plan must cover the tasks in the workplace; a description of engineering controls, work practices, and respiratory protection used to limit exposure; housekeeping measures used to limit exposure; and procedures to restrict access.  The employer must update the plan at least annually and designate a competent person to make frequent and regular inspections of job sites, materials, & equipment to implement the plan.   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.  Again, we have added a number of courses to our schedule or contact us here if you need us to work with you in developing your exposure control plan or exposure monitoring plan to help you keep your employees safe!