Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Wearable Technology In the Workplace

We just read the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health's (NIOSH's) Science Blog regarding "The Future of Wearable Technology in the Workplace".  Wearable technology includes things like Fitbit, Jawbone, and things like Google glass or Microsoft's just announced HoloLens.  The potential to use wearable technology in the workplace to provide occupational safety and health information at the moment would be really useful.  Though the potential for distracted workers and some workers having health issues using the technology should give pause in rolling it out too quickly.  Considering all the new technology we've been keeping up with, we are very interested in seeing where wearable technology brings the occupational safety and health field.  Maybe some accidents could be prevented with the wearable technology.

Image of the ZYPAD wrist wearable computer fro...
Image of the ZYPAD wrist wearable computer from Arcom Control Systems (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Monday, January 19, 2015

Mold Legislation Threatens Restoration/Remediation Industries

The New Year wasn't very old before the restoration/mold industry was beset with concerns regarding new regulations and legislation.  The first, Nassau County in New York State started requiring licensing for companies and owners of those companies who are environmental hazard remediation providers, this legislation Local Law No. 13-2014 was voted on by the County Legislature on September 22, 2014 and signed by County Executive Ed Mangano on September 25, 2014 (Thank you Mark Drozdov for the info).  The second item, on December 30 New York State's "Licensing of Mold Inspection, Assessment andRemediation Specialists and Minimum Work Standards" legislation was presented to Governor Andrew Cuomo to sign.  The Governor has until January 29 to either sign it, or veto it or he can let it expire (called a pocket veto) (Thank you Chris Alonge for the info.).
 
Water damage/Mold growth in a Basement Apartment
There is a growing group of industry individuals who feel that Governor Cuomo should veto the NYS legislation.  Many feel it is poorly written and have major issues with it.  Some examples include the definition of mold (to narrow a definition), NYS Department of Labor is charged with writing rules and regulations for overseeing the practices of assessment & remediation (it should be either the NYS Department of Health or NYS Department of Environmental Conservation), and does not mention or exempt a minimum quantity.  In our opinion, the law does use existing infrastructure to create the rules and regulations, recognizes conflict of interest issues, and leaves the details of the procedures up to the agencies who already have experience handling the restoration/remediation industry and provides some minimum procedures.  The law puts the responsibility for creating the details to NYS Department of Health and the NYS Department of Labor.  Both agencies already regulate the asbestos industry and have the experience to create, write, and enforce the potential rules and regulations to handle this industry.  Our feeling this legislation is better than the Nassau County legislation, and our concern is that we might get one like the Nassau County law.

Nassau's Local Law is meant to address problems that happened after Super Storm Sandy
Nassau County Local Law No. 13-2014 requires "Licensing of Environmental Hazard Remediation Providers" or in another words environmental contractors.  However, environmental contractors are defined "any person who or legal entity that, contracts with an owner or an owner's agent to inspect a suspected environmental hazard or to implement any measure or measures that result in the remediation of an environmental hazard in a building."  This definition means both consultants and contractors have to be licensed.  Even more amazing is the definition of Environmental hazard.  "Environmental hazard(s) means any condition that constitutes an indoor air quality violation as defined by any United States statue or regulation, any New York State Law or regulation, any local law or any regulation promulgated by the Commissioner of Consumer Affairs, and which hazard was caused by fire, flood, storm, chemical spills, dust, sewage, mold, pathogens or other biological contaminants and not caused by the presence of asbestos or lead."  There are so many statements in this definitions that we're not totally sure what is or isn't covered.  

The Local Law 13-2014 requires two licenses, environmental contractors have to get the Environmental Hazard Remediation Provider (EHRP) License ($1,000 for a two year license, renewal fee is $500 every two years) and the Environmental Hazard Remediation Technician (EHRT) License ($100 for two year license, every two years) shall be issued to an EHRP or their principal(s) and any person employed by, seeking employment by or under contract to a EHRP for the purpose of environmental hazard assessment and environmental hazard remediation.  It does allow an EHRT to supervise up to 10 unlicensed employees or contractors performing a remediation or remediations.  To get the EHRT license you must have taken and be current/in effect Certifications:
  • OSHA Safety Standards for Construction or General Industry - minimum 10 hours
  • NYS Asbestos Handler - minimum 32 hours
  • EPA Lead Worker - minimum 16 hours.  Lead RRP is NOT sufficient
  • Hazardous Waste Operations (HAZWOPER) - minimum 40 hours
  • Microbial Remediation - minimum 24 hours
  • Water damage restoration - minimum 20 hours or Institute of Inspection, Cleaning Restoration Certification (IICRC) WRT Certification
  • Fire damage restoration - minimum 16 hours or IICRC FSRT Certification
  • PCB Awareness - minimum 4 hours
  • Bloodborne pathogens - minimum 4 hours
  • Infection control risk assessment - minimum 4 hours
  • Proof of a valid lead and asbestos abatement licenses.
The above list consists of 170 hours of training.  It is interesting to note to get an asbestos abatement license you need to take an NYS asbestos supervisor - minimum 40 hours and to get the EPA Lead Remediation License you must be an EPA lead supervisor - minimum 32 hours.  Nowhere in this list of topics is a supervisor course, considering that the EHRT will be allowed to supervise up to 10 unlicensed employees/contractors that seems very lacking.  In addition, there is no assessment class in this list.  Most of us in the industry would agree that this list should be the minimum training for the remediation workers in the restoration/remediation industry.  This list should not be the training requirements for the principals/supervising employees of an EHRP.  In our opinion, EHRP principals/supervising employees should have a minimum certification from American Council for Accredited Certifications, American Board of Industrial Hygiene, Board of Certified Safety Professionals, or another national, non-profit certifying body which:  
In addition, the Local Law does not address the conflict of interest issues that arise from these types of projects.  In our opinion, the local law should have this language to address conflicts of interest:
  • Individuals or legal entities shall not conduct environmental assessments for a period of one year on projects for which they have conducted environmental remediation services.
  • Individuals or legal entities shall not conduct environmental remediations for a period of one year on projects for which they have conducted environmental assessments.
Both laws have their issues unfortunately the worst of the two laws is currently in effect and it needs drastic changes and should be repealed or amended.  

Thursday, January 01, 2015

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Future Environment Designs (FED) want to take this time to wish you all a Happy New Year!  We hope 2015 is as good as you wish it to be and it is a safe and healthy one.  At Future Environment Designsits another year of staying the course.  Our prices for asbestos refresher courses have not changed since 2007 and that will continue in 2015.  Over the years we started several initiatives which will also continue in 2015.  Our Safety Suzy Newsletter, which provides you with information regarding changes in Indoor Air Quality (asbestos, mold, lead, etc.) requirements, construction safety requirements, respirator use and fit testing, OSHA regulations, and NYS indoor air quality and construction safety regulations will continue.  We provide a loyalty discount to our clients who do their training with us every year and provide a referral discount to those who refer work to us (these discounts can be added together, see your monthly Safety Suzy Newsletter for details).  

In 2015 we will continue the following improvements:
  • Future Environment Design's mobile site, will allow you to view upcoming courses and download safety resources in phone-friendly formats.  Your suggestions and feedback can help shape the experience.  Visit our website with your mobile device through this link:    http://www.futureenvironmentdesigns.com/index.html.  
  • Future Environment Designs used to provide students in our classes with a course CD called the FED Training CD.  This CD had all the regulations and other helpful information.  With modern technology and advent of the cloud technology, we now provide a link to our dropbox folder that contains all this information.  You can find that link at: http://futureenvironmentdesigns.com/resources.html.
  • Future Environment Designs is working on an app that we hope will be ready in time for the Professional Abatement Contractors of New York's (PACNY's) 19th Annual Environmental Conference at Turning Stone Casino.  
  • Gloveguard (see below) is a product designed to help workers keep their work gloves close to them and increase their use.  Future Environment Designs is providing these to our students to help them keep their gloves with them and increase their use.

We look forward to seeing all of you in 2015, Happy New Year!