Monday, December 31, 2012

Happy New Year - 2013

Future Environment Designs would like to wish everyone a Happy New Year!  May it be a healthy, safe, and prosperous one, for all of us.  It is usually a tradition for companies and people to make resolutions for the new year.  At Future Environment Designs we resolve to honor our clients who have supported us for what will be 25 years in business in 2013.  To start meeting that resolution, we proudly announce our referral program.


Happy 2013 - May it be Healthy, Prosperous, & Safe!

Future Environment Design's Referral Program - we set this up to honor those clients who have referred training and indoor air quality/OSHA compliance consulting work to us.  Any client who refers training and/or indoor air quality/OSHA compliance consulting work to us will receive a 5% discount on their training/indoor air quality/OSHA compliance consulting work.  This would be in addition to any other discounts given.  So a client who has attended training with us before would be discounted 15% for loyalty and 5% for referring work to us, for a total discount of 20% off.  Future Environment Designs relies on word-of-mouth to maintain our level of revenue.  We feel this is a way to reward our clients who typically refer work to us and spread the word about our company.
Happy New Year!
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Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Holidays!

We at Future Environment Designs would like to wish all of our clients, suppliers, and their family and friends a very Merry Holiday season.  We thank you for making this year a special year and look forward to serving and working with you in the future!


This is the message of Christmas:
We are never alone. - Taylor Caldwell
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Monday, December 10, 2012

Sandy Relief - Eliminate Asbestos Notification Fees

Superstorm Sandy has caused some significant damage to asbestos containing materials, that were otherwise in good condition.  This hardship of having to addresss asbestos before renovation, restoration, or repair work is done, can be a significant burden.  Leading owners to short cut the regulations and hire unqualified/unlicensed workers and companies to handle the asbestos putting themselves and the workers performing the work at risk.

Water Damaged Asbestos Pipe Insulation
It is important to remember that in New York State, all quantities of asbestos disturbance are regulated for both residential and commercial.  Workers must be certified to perform asbestos work and the companies they work for must be licensed.  As of December 10, 2012, there are 856 licensed contractors in New York State.  One of the things we found interesting in searching for contractors is what  we found regarding ServPro & Servicemaster.  As you may have seen ServPro's television commercial discussing being able to handle emergency cleanups, well it is interesting that ServPro does not come up on New York State list of licensed asbestos contractors.  This means the only way ServPro could handle this work is to partner with a licensed asbestos contractor.  They cannot do the work themselves.  Regarding Servicemaster, they come up on the New York State list of assbestos contractors, however, it is only the Buffalo branch that is licensed.  So only the Buffalo branch can work with asbestos containing materials.  Long Island Servicemasters cannot do the work themselves, they too must partner with a licensed asbestos contractor.
To ensure residential work is done by qualified/licensed contractors the New York State Department of Labor should follow Suffolk County's or other towns, and villages lead in waiving fees involved with notifying these projects. The cost involved with notifications range from $200 to $4000. These fees would be better put to use by the owners of the properties to cleanup the damaged materials by licensed/qualified contractors.  To ensure this happens, we need to get this information/request out to Governor Cuomo and our local State Senators & State Assemblypersons.  Be safe and take care!
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Thursday, November 29, 2012

Super Storm Sandy Cleanups, Educate Yourself!

Hope everyone survived Sandy, the Nor'easter, and Thanksgiving!  Since Sandy we've been getting a lot of phone calls on handling all the different issues related to the super storm.  Questions regarding mold, asbestos, lead, and the use of biocides.  In order to assist with providing information on these issues their are several videos we have worked with IAQTV and Cochrane & Associates to provide some basic information on these issues.  The most recent video is based on what it takes to dry out an area based on the type of water that has infiltrated the area. See our video "Dry Out Hazards Following a Flood or Water Incursion" at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=64u9RNPKbtI&feature=em-uploademail

Superstorm Sandy Uprooted/Broke Many Trees Causing Severe Power Outages
After super storm Sandy building materials were probably disturbed and may have become damaged requiring removal or replacing.  Anytime you are dealing with building materials, you are probably going to have to deal with asbestos and/or lead.  Asbestos was typically used as an insulator, however, the material can also be found in floor tiles & mastics, plaster-on-lathe, ceiling tiles, siding shingles, window caulking, & roofing shingles (remember asbestos is not banned and can be found in certain new building materials).  For more information about asbestos threats in the home, see our video "Asbestos Threats in the Home" at:  http://www.prlog.org/10943541-asbestos-threats-in-the-home-revealed-in-new-video.html.  In New York State workers and companies that disturb or handle asbestos are required to be certified and licensed.  In addition, projects that disturb/handle asbestos in quantities greater than 10 square feet and/or 25 linear feet require asbestos air/project monitoring to determine if the project has been completed properly.  This air/project monitoring firm and individuals must also be licensed and certified and are required to be completely independent of the contractor (must be hired by the owner of the facility/residence) handling/disturbing the asbestos.
Lead was usually used in paint and also in window caulking.  For more information about lead in the home, see our video "Lead Hazards in the Home" at:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z5UnRr0tj88.  The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) under the Renovation, Repair, and Painting Rules (RRP) requires renovation, remodeling, and painting contractors must be certified in lead paint work procedures.  Visit EPA's website regarding how this rule applies for post-disaster renovations: http://epa.gov/lead/rrp/emergency.html  . 
With significant water infiltration on the shore areas, if these areas were allowed to stay damp for longer than 48-hours, then mold had the opportunity to grow.  The extent of mold growth and type of mold would be based on the type of water (black, grey, or white) and the amount of water.  To learn more about mold see our video "Health Effects of Mold Exposure" at:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DbKoonHwvHM  For those who have had sewage water (known as black water) infiltration into their residence/facility should see our video "Sewage Contamination Dangers" at:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V4XORptvcX8.  When looking for contractors to handle mold, unlike asbestos and lead there is no federal, state or local licensing.  However, you should make sure the contractor you hire has workers who are industry certified in mold remediation from the American Council for Accredited Certifications (ACAC).  Find the ACAC and those certified individuals at:  http://acac.org/.
When it comes to biocides it is very important to be cautious, when using bleach or other stronger biocides.  Biocides (meaning kills life) are designed to kill and must be registered (licensed) with EPA under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, Rodenticide Act (FIFRA).  The label is the law for these products.  Meaning the chemical must be used in accordance with the label.  The label must list all the limitations and where the product is allowed to be used.  For information about biocides visit EPA's website on FIFRA at:  http://www.epa.gov/lawsregs/laws/fifra.html and visit the following website for registered disinfectants: http://www.epa.gov/oppad001/chemregindex.htm  Remember EPA does NOT recommend the use of biocides for mold cleanups, visit EPA's website regarding using bleach for mold cleanups at http://iaq.supportportal.com/link/portal/23002/23007/Article/20290/Should-I-use-bleach-to-clean-up-mold .  See EPA's website and the EPA manual "A Brief Guide to Mold, Moisture, and Your Home" at: http://www.epa.gov/mold/moldguide.html.
To quote a Long Island retailer, "An educated consumer is our best customer.". In the case of environmental hazards it is the same.  Educate yourself on the hazards and you can better avoid hazards, unnecessary expenses & services, and headaches.  Please be safe and take care!
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Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Difference Between Allied Trades and Operations & Maintenance.

Asbestos Handler Initial Class at IUOE
Asbestos Handler Initial Class at IUOE (Photo credit: angelogarciaiii)
Recently, we got a call from a client expressing an interest in asbestos training.  The client being a tradesperson (electrician, carpenter, plumber, etc.) was confused on which training and certificate they should get, either the Allied Trades or the Operations and Maintenance (O&M) Certificate.  Because this client was confused we figured others may be too.  So how do you determine which training/certificate is appropriate?  Well first we need to answer the question will the tradespeople disturb asbestos containing materials (ACM)?  What do we mean by disturb, well let's go the New York State Department of Labor Industrial Code Rule 56 (ICR56) to get the definition of disturb.  "Disturbance means any activities that disrupt the matrix of ACM or Presumed ACM (PACM), or generate debris, visible emissions, or airborne asbestos fibers from ACM or PACM.  This includes moving of friable asbestos containing material from one place to another."
So deciding whether the tradesperson will be disturbing ACM or PACM is the most important question.  The reason for this is that the primary difference between the two titles is that the O&M certificate allows disturbance (for repairs/maintenance that will fit into one glovebag or one tent, that does not exceed 10 square feer or 25 linear feet) and the Allied Trades certificate does not allow disturbance (see Guidance Document page 14, Q/A# 50).
Realize, one of critical points on the disturbance definition is the last sentence "This includes moving of friable asbestos containing material from one place to another."  So, if you have a tradesperson that enters a crawlspace where the dust is contaminated with asbestos, the tradesperson is considered to be disturbing asbestos.  Since the tradesperson is disturbing asbestos he must have an O&M certificate to enter the crawlspace.  This would also meet the training requirements for Class III workers (which are workers who are likely to disturb ACM/PACM in quantities that will fit into a maximum of a 60" waste bag) under the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) 1926.1101 asbestos in the construction industry standard.
In addition, the meaning of the Allied Trades Certificate was originally for the purpose of tradesmen who worked with the asbestos abatement contractor to provide the contractor with water for the showers, shut down electric and provide temporary power, and construct the decontamination facility and isolation barriers, to name a few.  The purpose of this trainiing is to train the workers on the dangers of asbestos, respiratory protection, and how enter and exit the work area (another words how to decontaminate themselves in the shower).  The training does not include any abatement or disturbance training because they are not supposed to disturb asbestos.  This certificate/training requirement is not recognized by OSHA under 1926.1101.
For example, the recent violations issued to SMG at Nassau Coliseum included violations for not providing asbestos training for Class III work.  In addition, in a Newsday article on Wednesday, October 7, 2009, Carle Place School District admitted to erring in not hiring a specially licensed contractor to run conduit in their crawlspace.  That license (an asbestos abatement license) is required of the contractor/company performing the work and all the contractor's workers (working in the crawlspace) are required to have a minimum of the O&M certificate.
We hope this will clarify the difference between these two New York State Certificates and help tradespeople determine which certificate/training they should request. 
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Tuesday, October 02, 2012

OSHA Cites SMG For Asbestos Violations at Nassau Coliseum

English: Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum Lic...
English: Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum Licensing: Category:Images of Long Island (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has issued a press release on their website announcing that they are citing SMG, which manages the day-to-day operations of the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum on Long Island, a total of $88,000 in proposed fines for asbestos, electrical, chemical and other hazards facing workers at the coliseum. SMG operates as SMG @ Nassau Coliseum, LLC faces 16 alleged serious violations of workplace health and safety standards.
OSHA opened the inspection due to employee complaints.  Investigators found that maintenance workers and electricians were exposed to asbestos or materials potentially containing asbestos while working in various locations - including the coliseum's ice plant, catwalks, and a loading dock - and that SMG did not take adequate steps to address the hazards.
Obviously, from this information it seems that SMG was unaware (or ignored) the dangers their workers faced in working at the Coliseum.  This is not a good thing for Nassau County as the owners of the Coliseum.  This brings into question what information did Nassau County pass along to SMG to make sure SMG protected their employees.  This opens up Nassau County for a third party litigation lawsuit.  Remember previous articles written about this issue indicated at least two workers (one with mesothelioma and the other with stage four lung cancer) were potentially exposed to asbestos and that a total of 75 arena employees may have been exposed.
One of the most damning statements on the press release was "Specifically, SMG did not identify the presence, location and quantity of materials containing or potentially containing asbestos, use engineering controls and work practices to reduce exposure levels, ensure that all Class III asbestos work (such as repair and maintenance operations where materials presumed to contain asbestos are disturbed) was conducted in regulated areas, ensure proper respirator use, post warning signs and provide asbestos awareness training for workers."  Nassau County as the owner of the Coliseum, also has liabilities in informing SMG of the asbestos containing materials located at the Coliseum.  It seems to us that this isn't the last we will be hearing about the asbestos at the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum.
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Thursday, September 27, 2012

Changes at NYS DOL

English: Headquarters of the Dormitory Authori...
English: Headquarters of the Dormitory Authority of the State of New York, located on Broadway in Albany, New York, United States (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
We have just found out, thanks to Christopher Corrado at National Grid and Cornerstone Training Institute, that there are several changes at the New York State Department of Labor.  First we are sad to hear that Mr. Christopher Alonge is leaving the Engineering Services Unit to take a position at the Dormitory Authority.  We are sure sad to see him go and wish him the best of luck at the Dormitory Authority.  According to Mr. Alonge, the proposed revisions to NYS Industrial Code Rule 56 have been submitted to the Governor's office and will be handled by the Unit's Director, going forward.  It is also our understanding that Dr. Eileen Franko formerly of the New York State Department of Health will be taking the place of the retiring Ms. Maureen Cox the Director of Safety and Health at NYS Department of Labor.  It will be interesting to see if this change will have any impact on enforcement of Industrial Code Rule 56 and the PESH regulations.  We wish Mr. Alonge, Dr. Franko and Ms. Cox the best of luck in their new endeavors.

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Monday, September 03, 2012

OSHA Training Blog - oshatraining.com: “Best Practices”? Or Safety Run Amuck?

This blog post is so good, we couldn't resist sharing it with you.  Very funny story and wonder how many others have run into the same thing.  Hope you enjoy this post as much as we have.
OSHA Training Blog - oshatraining.com: “Best Practices”? Or Safety Run Amuck?: On occasion I am hired by attorneys to serve as an expert witness on lawsuits involving workplace injuries and fatalities. One of the more...

Monday, July 09, 2012

NYS Department Of Health Vermiculite Clarification

New York State Department of Health's (NYSDOH) Environmental Laboratory Approval Program (ELAP) has released an update that revises FAQ #10 from the 4/8/11 FAQ document.  This update is posted at:
http://www.wadsworth.org/labcert/elapcert/forms/Vermiculite%20Guidance_Rev062212.pdf.  

The revision separates vermiculite into two types.  Vermiculite material used for thermal systems insulation (TSI), surfacing materials, and other miscellaneous ACM (including but not limited to:  existing or new surfacing material, plaster, pipe lagging, and sprayed-on fireproofing) or vermiculite material used for attic fill, block fill, and other loose bulk vermiculite material.  For the vermiculite material used for attic fill, etc. nothing has changed.  We still cannot analyze it and material must be assumed to contain asbestos and designated an asbestos containing material.

New Evaluation for Surfacing Material Containing Vermiculite
For the vermiculite used for TSI, surfacing material, etc. anaylze by ELAP certification manual item 198.1 (polarized light microscopy [PLM] friable method).  Vermiculite evaluation shall follow these three steps:
  1. If vermiculite is calculated to be less than 10% of the entire material composition and no asbestos fibers are detected, the material may be reported as non-ACM.
  2. If any asbestos fibers are identified, analysis must proceed according to Item 198.1 PLM and reported as ACM according to Section 6.3.
  3. If vermiculite is calculated to be 10% or more of the material, the material must be reported as ACM.
According to NYSDOH ELAP the reason for the difference is that vermiculite used for TSI, etc can be more constrained that loose fill, there is less of a public health concern pertaining to airborne asbestos fibers following disturbance.

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Wednesday, July 04, 2012

Happy 4th of July! Celebrate Our Heros And Our Freedoms!

Happy 4th of July, the day we celebrate the founding of our Great Country!  Much blood, sweat, and tears (great name for a band) have been spilled to get to where we are today (please remember and honor our heros today who have served in the various wars - Revolutionary, War of 1812, Civil War, Spanish-American, WWI, WWII, Korean, Vietnam, Cold, Operation Freedom, Afganistan, and Iraq).  In addition, alot of breath, ink, and paper (not so great name for a band) has documented our ups and downs along the path to greatness.  As an American, I haven't always agreed with our direction (as many others at various times) but I have always been proud of my country.  No where else can you state your opinion without fear of being jailed or killed.  No where else do we have the opportunity to become as great or as little as we want to be.  No where else do we get a choice of who to vote for (kind of?).  Though we may disagree with each other on politics (I'm a Progressive, not a Liberal), sports (Go Mets and Steelers!), and religion (I'm a Taoist), in the end we are all Americans, we are all brothers and sisters, and together we can overcome anything!
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Wednesday, June 06, 2012

Assemblywoman Lupardo Sponsors Bill To Amend Asbestos Notification Fees

Assemblywoman Donna Lupardo is sponsoring Assembly Bill A09928, which will amend the notification fees for non-friable material.  This issue was discussed at Professional Abatement Contractors of New York's (PACNY) 2012 Environmental Conference.  The bill can be accessed at:  http://assembly.state.ny.us/leg/?default_fld=&bn=A09928&term=&Summary=Y&Actions=Y&Votes=Y&Memo=Y&Text=Y

Asbestos Thermal System Insulation on a Residential Ducts & Furnace
PACNY is supporting this bill, based on their research that many residential projects are not notified and are done illegally because of the steep fee structure.  Placing homeowners and occupants in danger.  In addition, because of recent flooding from natural disasters many homes have been condemned requiring them to pay the maximum asbestos notification fee of $4,000 to demolish the home.  This fee for demolition has been the subject of many articles regarding this cost that cities, towns, and villages are required to pay increasing the cost in doing demolition in the Southern Tier, Catskills, and other regions.  Visit the New York State Asbestos Group on Linked-in, regarding the discussion of this issue.

This is not the first time this issue has been discussed, a previous Senate Bill S748-2011 in the New York State Senate sponsored by State Senator Catherine Young wanted to modify the fees that residential one & two family owner occupied homes paid in doing asbestos abatement work - capping the notification fee at $500.

We agree that the notification fees need to be addressed, especially for residential work.  Though not convinced that the fee should be addressed in this manner.  Senator Young's bill handles it much simply and probably should be expanded to include residential homes/houses slated for demolition (or controlled demolition by a municipality).
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Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Worker Exposure to Silica Significant During Hydraulic Fracturing

Silicosis
Silicosis (Photo credit: Mr. Ducke)
Just read the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health's (NIOSH's) blog regarding "Worker Exposure to Crystalline Silica during Hydraulic Fracturing".  Obviously, environmental concerns regarding this type of work are being fought in New York on what seems likely a daily or weekly basis.  Usually the arguement for hydraulic fracturing is, job creation and of course energy independence.  However, it is interesting how worker safety is rarely discussed when we talk about hydraulic fracturing.  This study done by NIOSH and discussed on their blog obviously discusses the need to ensure that workers are protected from being overexposed to respirable crystalline silica dust.  Overexposure to respirable crystalline silica dust can lead to the development of the uncurable respiratory disease silicosis, in addition to other diseases.    The typical view that filtering facepiece and half-mask respirators could protect the workers, according to the blog is not sufficient to protect the workers.  Meaning engineering, work practice controls, and administrative controls need to be implemented, making the process more complicated.
Since New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYS DEC) is working on drafting regulations for hydraulic fracturing, we hope they also take into account what is needed to protect worker safety on these sites as well as what is needed to protect the environment.
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Thursday, April 26, 2012

NYSDOH ELAP Decision Trees

In our previous blog post on the Professional Abatement Contractors of New York's (PACNY's) 16th Annual Environmental Conference, we mentioned that Dr. Stephanie Ostrowski, of the New York State Department of Health's Environmental Laboratory Approval Program (ELAP), was one of the presenters.  Dr. Ostrowski's presentation, as we mentioned in our blog, included lengthy discussions on vermiculite and ceiling tiles.
 
The discussion regarding ceiling tiles included reviewing the decision trees she provided us to help explain the analysis process for regular bulk samples and samples required to undergo gravimetric reduction.  Analysis of friable bulk sample (material) must use analysis method 198.1, while non-friable, organically bound (NOB) bulk material must use analysis method 198.6/198.4.  Visit my website under Resources for the copy of the decision trees she provided us.  Her explainations were excellent and the decision trees did make it easier to understand. 

There was also some discussion regarding whether this meant that ceiling tiles were considered NOBs and hence could be removed under the In-plant regulations of New York State Department of Labor (NYSDOL) Industrial Code Rule 56 (ICR56).  Mr. Chris Alonge of NYSDOL came to the microphone and immediately put that issue to rest, saying that ceiling tiles are not considered non-friable, so as such cannot be removed under the In-plant operations section of the regulation.  This year's conference was as informative as usual, a great job was done by PACNY, Deborah Johnson of Aramsco, Darren Yehl of LeChase Construction Services and Kevin Hutton of Cornerstone Training Institute.

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Friday, April 13, 2012

More Dangers Related To Toxic Dusts

In our current newsletter (find it at www.futureenv.com), we discuss the hazards of toxic dust at demolition and disaster sites. Three new studies from California seem to support my points regarding the dangers of the dust. Indoor Environment Connections in the February 2012 issue discusses the findings of these studies linking exposure to fine-particulate matter to heart disease.

These study defined particulate matter as a complex blend of substances ranging from dry solid fragments, solid-core fragments with liquid coatings and small droplets of liquid. These particles vary in shape, size and chemical composition, and can contain metals, soot, nitrates, sulfates, and very fine dust. One source of particulate matter, including PM2.5 or fine-particulate matter is exhaust from vehicles, especially diesel engines (which are used frequently on demolition and disaster sites). PM2.5 is particulate matter smaller than 2.5 microns in diameter (making this particulate matter a respirable dust or dust that can enter into the deep lungs).
The California Air Resources Board (ARB) released three new studies, that indicate exposure to airborne fine-particulate matter significantly elevates the risk of premature deaths from heart disease among older adults and elevates incidence of strokes among post-menopausal women. The third study examined platelets of mice exposed to PM2.5. This study found that the exposed mice showed platelet activation which could promote clotting and lead to stroke and heart attacks. These studies add to the existing scienctific evidence that respirable airborne particulates pose a threat to public health. If these particles pose a threat to public health, what about the threat to workers who are exposed to PM2.5 at their worksites?
These studies further support my call, for the requirement that workers wear respirators on all demolition and disaster sites.
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Wednesday, March 28, 2012

PACNY 2012 CONFERENCE - MORE CHANGES?

The annual Environmental Conference of the Professional Abatement Contractors of New York (PACNY) was held at Turning Stone Casino & Resort in Verona, New York.  This annual conference has become synonomous with changes - either changing the way we think, new regulations, or new interpetations.

Dr. David Duford from CanAm Environmental, Angelo Garcia, III from FED, & Darren Yehl from Cornerstone Training on the PACNY Discussion Panel

This year's changes (not sure that is the right word, but we will use it anyway), include lengthy discussions about vermiculite (any vermiculite in a sample designates the sample as containing asbestos), and ceiling tiles analysis by Dr. Stephanie Ostrowski of the Environmental Laboratory Approval Program (ELAP).  After last year's PACNY presentation by ELAP and various questions from the audience, ELAP released the April FAQ which answered questions and created new questions regarding a number of items.  Major points from Dr. Ostrowski was materials similar to NOBs such as ceiling tiles and fiberglass (where the materials may block or interfere with analysis of asbestos) should be analyzed using gravimetric reduction.  Probably one of the most frustrating parts of Dr. Ostrowski's presentation is her using the word "should" when most in the audience thought she should have used "shall or must".  For example, in discussing the vermiculite issue she said laboratories should consider the material asbestos contaminated.  If the material cannot be analyzed for the contamination of asbestos, why is it "should" why not "shall".  From a suggestion from the audience, Dr. Ostrowski was going to go back and discuss with her collegues the adding of a disclaimer for vermiculite on laboratory reports. 

The usual highlight of the conference was the update by Mr. Chris Alonge on the progress of the revisions to Industrial Code Rule 56.  Dr. David Duford from CanAm Environmental Safety, Inc. did an excellent presentation, before Mr. Alonge's, on the New York State Building and Fire Code which allowed everyone to have a better idea what Mr. Alonge is referencing in the revisions.  Probably the most important announcement by Mr. Alonge was that the New York State Department of State has approved the changes and their review is completed.  The next hurdle is the NYS Division of Budget, and we will see what happens next on that front.  Mr. Alonge said he hoped for a comment period this summer with possible enactment by the beginning of 2013.  We recently got an electronic copy of his presentation for this year and that will be added to our manuals (eventually to our website, too) along with the bulk sample analysis decision trees provided by Dr. Ostrowski.   

The conference started with a presentation by Mr. Tom Meade the Executive Director of PACNY and discussions on the need for moral & ethics training in the industry, the micro-managing of the industry, a Bill to Amend Section 904 of the Labor Law, recent finding that sprayed-on fireproofing installed in 2005 came back with 2% chrysotile asbestos, and the findings of the FOIL request regarding New York State Department of Labor's Asbestos Control Program budget & notification fees.  Brian Sampson of Unshackle Upstate then discussed the importance of his organization's work in providing a balanced voice for upstate New York, his points regarding the industry was support for tax credits for remediation, support for amending Section 904, and streamlining permitting process.

Other speakers included, Mr. Paul Watson from ATC Associates spoke about PCBs (important point - EPA Guidance Document on Caulk, may become the industry standard); Mr. Bob Krell from IAQ Technologies; Mr. Kevin Murphy from Wladis Law Firm (what to do if an allegation is made against you? - know your rights, know you do not have to say anything, know that saying something can have much more serious consequences than saying nothing, etc.); and Mr. Ron Williams from OSHA (National Emphasis Programs on silica, lead, trenching & excavation).  The exhibition hall was a little light this year because of conflicts with other meetings, however, DiVal Safety Equipment had an interesting product Rhinotuff Puncture Resistant Insoles (DiValSafety.com).  This product is designed to fit into most types of work boots and shoes to provide puncture resistance.  A new vendor at the show was The SAFETY house.com, visit them at www.thesafetyhouse.com.

A big Thank You! to PACNY for inviting me onto the panel discussion this year.  I was honored and enjoyed the conference as usual.
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Thursday, March 22, 2012

OSHA Quicktakes Announces HAZCOMM Standard Revision

The March 22, 2012 (Volume 11, Issue 7) of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration's (OSHA) "QuickTakes" anounced "OSHA Aligns HazardCommunication Standard with the United Nations' Globally Harmonized System ofClassification and Labeling of Chemicals."  This announcement has been awaited by the environmental, industrial hygiene, and safety industry for some time now.  The QuickTakes discusses the March 20 press teleconference hosted by Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis joined by Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health Dr. David Michaels announcing the final rule updating OSHA's Hazard Communication Standard.


Globally Harmonized System of Classification a...
Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals (GHS) pictogram for corrosive substances (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
The purpose of the revision is to align the standard with the United Nations' Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals.  The standard should better protect workers and help American businesses compete in a global economy.
Assistant Secretary Michaels explained that OSHA's revised Hazard Communication standard (HCS), which will be fully implemented in 2016, benefits workers by reducing confusion in the workplace, facilitating safety training, and improving understandings of hazards, especially for low-wage and limited-literacy workers. The harmonized standard will classify chemicals according to their health and physical hazards, and establish consistent labels and safety data sheets (SDS) for all chemicals made in the United States or imported from abroad.  For more information, listen to an audio-recording of the press conference and see the press release.
Employers must train workers on the new label elements and SDS format by December 1, 2013. Chemical manufacturers, importers, distributors, and employers must comply with all modified provisions of the final rule by June 1, 2015.  However, distributors may ship products labeled by manufacturers under the old system until December 1, 2015.  By June 1, 2016, employers must update alternative workplace labeling and hazard communication programs as necessary, and provide additional worker training for new identified physical and health hazards.  During this transition period, all chemical manufacturers, importers, distributors, and employers may comply with either 29 CFR 1910.1200 (this final standard), or the current standard, or both.
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Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Kings Park Psychiatric Center Bid Awarded to Low Bidder

On Saturday, March 10, 2010, Mr. Carl MacGowan of Newsday wrote an article regarding the demolition jobs that will be created by National Salvage & Service Corp. the winner of the Kings Park Psychiatric Center bid.  As we discussed in a previous blog post, we are concerned about whether this contractor understands New York State laws regarding labor, asbestos, transportation, and insurance.

This equipment could be used to tear down buildings.
The article states that National Salvage is expected to employ about 65 people to demolish 15 buildings and is unsure how many of those jobs would be going to local people (even if those jobs go to out-of-state people they would have to be paid prevailing wage as per New York State laws).  In addition, National Salvage anticipates using local subcontractors for work such as security, surveying, and removing asbestos and hazardous materials.  They will also be subcontracting 20% of the work to businesses owned by minorities and women. 

Even with all of this we still say, the devil will be in the details.  We have discussed this project in several classes, and the concensus in our classes is it will be interesting to see if the project remains at $6.4 million or will the change orders and extras bring the project closer to the $15 million budget or exceed it? 
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Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Honoring Dr. Alice Hamilton For Women's History Month


Alice Hamilton, pioneer of occupational medici...
Image via Wikipedia
Recently saw a tweet by the Young Workers honoring Dr. Alice Hamilton (For Women's history month -- Alice Hamilton (NIOSH video 1988; http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E75pST2QTEM&feature=colike).  It still surprises us when we see a video on the pioneers in the industrial hygiene field, discussing issues we are still dealing with today.  Dr. Hamilton was dealing with imigrant labor being mistreated similar to what we see today with undocumented/illegal aliens.  Dr. Hamilton also was dealing with workers being exposed to various toxic dusts and then the workers developing various diseases caused by these exposures.  Today we still see this happening as we've written about in our current newsletter (Toxic Dusts - Demolition Implications).  When will we learn from our previous mistakes?  When will we stop the exposures and the resulting illnesses?  When will we start to care?
 
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Thursday, March 01, 2012

Kings Park Psychiatric Center's Lowest Bidder - Cause for Concern?

We recently received a copy of the range of bids on the Kings Park Psychiatric Center project.  Though the low bidder is under the budgeted amount of $15 million (see Newsday article), the spread between them and the next bidder is $1.78 million.  The spread between the second and third bidder was only approximately $230,000 and the average bid was $13.988 million.  This spread and the fact the low bidder is half the average bid may or may not be cause for concern.  It is important to remember that lowest bidder must be a responsible bidder.  On this point there are two obvious concerns regarding the lowest bidder, first they are an out-of-state bidder (Indiana) and, as of February 21, 2012, they are not a New York State Licensed Asbestos Contractor.  Under New York State Industrial Code Rule 56-3.1 (c), "a copy of a valid New York State Asbestos Handling License shall be submitted by the bidder prior to award of any contract all or part of which involves an asbestos project." At this point, unless the low bidder has a subcontractor doing the asbestos work involved with this contract, they cannot be awarded bid.  In addition, out-of-state contractors always cause worries because it brings up questions like: 
  • Do they know New York State is a prevailing wage state (meaning you must pay workers on the project the prevailing wage rate for Suffolk County based on their job classification)? 
  • Do they know that New York State has asbestos regulations that are some of strictest in the country? 
  • Do they know  that New York State requires all workers, including the operating engineers to have asbestos supervisor or handler certificates?
  • Do they know that when you do controlled demolition (56-11.5) with asbestos in place in New York State you cannot salvage/recycle/or reuse the building materials, they all (except obvious must be disposed of as regulated asbestos containing materials (RACM)?  This means the material have to be hauled by asbestos licensed hauler to an Environmental Protection Agency approved landfill that accepts RACM materials.
  • Do they meet the insurance requirements in New York State, has their insurance provided riders or attachments for workers compensation and disability?
Controlled Demolition is covered under NYSDOL ICR 56
We have many clients who set-up post bid meetings (some even video tape these meetings) with the contractor and ensure the contractor understands all sections of the contract giving the contractor the opportunity to pull-out of the contract if they missed or misunderstood something.  We strongly recommend the designers/owners of this project give this contractor every opportunity to withdraw their bid and make sure the contract is awarded to someone that understands and can meet all the requirements and intricacies of working inside New York State.