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.