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.