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Saturday, December 26, 2020

A Merry Holidays and a Happy New Year! We wish you a New Year better than the last one and the best one yet!

Future Environment Designs Training Center (#FEDTC) wishes you and your family a Merry Holidays and a Happy New Year.  As we say goodbye and good riddance to 2020.  At the same time, we enter 2021 with hope and faith that the rest of the decade will be better than it started.  As we discussed, in December's Safety Suzy Newsletter this year the asbestos training industry was shut down from March to May, until we were allowed to do refresher classes virtually/online.  Then in-person training for initial training was opened in June and refresher classes were opened in July.  Since July, we were only allowed to hold classes at 50% capacity.  We're still running at 50% capacity and will continue to run at this level and follow our pandemic policy in our in-person classes until the pandemic is over.

Rockefeller Christmas Tree

In our December Safety Suzy, we announced an increase in our loyalty discount for students who trained with us in 2020.  The loyalty discount for 2021 has been increased to 25% (from 15%).  We thank all of you for your continued support of our business.  For those paying for a subscription or purchasing training services in advance, we are increasing the discount you receive for purchasing training services in advance.  See our Patreon website for more information.

Socially Distanced Asbestos Initial Class

We are proud to announce the addition of a new instructor at #FEDTC.  Mr. Ramon De Los Santos who is an Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) Outreach Training Instructor has over 15 years of construction experience in road construction safety.  Mr. De Los Santos is bilingual and speaks English and Spanish fluently.  #FEDTC will be adding Spanish OSHA 10-hour & 30-hour construction safety courses to our schedule.  We look forward to adding this training to our schedules along with Spanish versions of hazard communication/right-to-know; excavation, and fall protection courses.  Welcome aboard Mr. De Los Santos!

Fifth Avenue Star

Since the pandemic started we have added new on-demand/e-learn courses to our catalog.  We have added a two-hour Covid-19 awareness course, a 4-hour bloodborne pathogen course, and newly added to the catalog the AHERA designated person course.  The AHERA designated person course is required by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) under the Asbestos Hazard Emergency Response Act (AHERA) for the person that the Local Education Agency (LEA) designated as the individual responsible for ensuring the requirements of the AHERA regulation are properly implemented.  To register for this course or any of our on-demand/e-learning courses visit FEDTC's online training website.     

Socially Distanced Initial Mold Class

We are looking forward to seeing all of you in 2021.  We are also excited about the changes and opportunities coming our way.  Again, we wish you & your family a Merry Holidays and a Happy New Year!!!

Tuesday, October 06, 2020

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, September 01, 2020

Final Phase of New York City Training Requirements for Construction Workers Arrives on March 1, 2021.

On August 27, 2020, New York City's (NYC) Council amended the administrative code of the City of New York in relation to the definition of site safety training full compliance date.  This amendment 2059-2020 goes into effect immediately and extends the compliance date to March 1, 2021.  New York City Buildings posted the following notification.  

In 2017, New York City's (NYC) Council amended the administrative code of the City of New York and the NYC building code, in relation to construction site safety training.  This amendment is called Local Law 196 of 2017 (formerly known as Intro. 1447).  It amends the administrative code by adding section 22-509 Construction site safety training courses.  Requiring the Mayor to establish by March 1, 2018, a program to provide equal access to construction site safety training.  This law has several deadlines and was established to make sure that construction workers in New York City all had a minimum amount of training.  This law has been updated and delayed twice, so far (click here for the FAQ on the regulation).

Properly capped rebar
The first deadline has passed already, beginning March 1, 2018, each permit holder at a building site for which a construction superintendent, site safety manager, or site safety coordinator is required shall ensure that each construction or demolition worker employed or otherwise engaged at such site by the permit holder or performing subcontracted work for or on behalf of such permit holder shall have successfully completed:
  • an Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) 10-hour class;
  • an OSHA 30-hour class; or
  • a 100-hour training program.
We are currently passed the second deadline of December 1, 2019.  Permit holders shall ensure each worker has an OSHA 30-hour card, SST card, a limited SST card or a temporary SST card and each worker who is serving as a site safety manager, site safety coordinator, concrete safety manager, construction superintendent or a competent person at such site shall have an SST supervisor card.

Recent OSHA 30-hour Construction Safety Course

If you are wondering what an SST card, a limited SST card, a temporary SST card, or an SST supervisor card is, well you are not the only one!  First, a Site Safety Training card (SST card) SST card, a limited SST card, a temporary SST card, or an SST supervisor card are cards that are issued by a New York City Department of Buildings Approved Training Provider (which at the time of my writing this, there are 102 training providers approved).

To get a limited SST card (which expires August 31, 2020) you must have taken one of the following training paths:
  1. OSHA 10-hour class with 20-hours of additional training:
    • OSHA 10-hour
    • 8-hour Fall Prevention
    • 8-hour Chapter 33 (Site Safety Manager Refresher) or 4-hour General Electives and 4-hour Specialized Electives
    • 4-hour Supported Scaffold User and refresher
  2. OSHA 30-hour class
  3. 100-Hour Training Program Approved by the Building Department
  4. Prior Experience
    • 4-hour Fall Prevention
    • 4-hour Supported Scaffold User
To get a temporary SST card (which expires after 6 months during which time training must be completed to receive a Limited SST card or SST card) you must have taken an OSHA 10-hour class.

To get an SST card (which expires after 5 years) you must have taken one of the following training paths, this card will be required by September 1, 2020 (unless the NYC Council pushes this deadline back):
  1. OSHA 10-hour class with 30-hours of additional training:
    • OSHA 10-hour class
    • 8-hour Fall Prevention
    • 8-hour Chapter 33 (Site Safety Manager Refresher)
    • 4-hour Supported Scaffold User
    • 4-hour General Electives
    • 4-hour Specialized Electives
    • 2-hour Drug and Alcohol Awareness
  2. OSHA 30-hour Class with 10-hours of additional training:
    • OSHA 30-hour class
    • 8-hour Fall Prevention
    • 2-Hour Drug and Alcohol Awareness
  3. 100-hour Training Program Approved by the Building Department
  4. Prior Experience
    • 4-hour Fall Prevention
    • 4-hour Supported Scaffold User
To get a Supervisor SST card (which expires after 5 years) you must have taken:
  • OSHA 30-hour class
  • 8-hour fall prevention
  • 8-hour Chapter 33 (Site Safety Manager Refresher)
  • 4-hour Supported Scaffold User
  • 2-hour Site Safety Plan
  • 2-hour Tool Box Talks
  • 2-hour Pre-task Safety Meetings
  • 2-hour General Electives
  • 2-hour Specialized Electives
  • 2-hour Drug and Alcohol Awareness
So that's how you get the various cards required under this local law.  The law doesn't end there.  The next compliance date is September 1, 2020.  By that date, all workers must have an SST card to work on most construction projects.

By the full compliance date, SST Cards & Supervisor SST cards will be required on most construction sites

Since SST Cards and Supervisor SST cards expire after 5 years, applicants must have completed training to renew the cards in the one-year period preceding renewal of the card (in other words if the card expires in September 2025, in the year from September 2024 to September 2025 you need to complete the training discussed below):

  1. SST Card (8 Hours)
    • 4-hour Fall Prevention
    • 4-hour Supported Scaffold User
  2. Supervisor SST card (16 hours)
    • 8-hour Fall Prevention
    • 4-hour Supported Scaffold User
    • 2-hour Tool Box Talks
    • 2-hour Pre-Task Safety Meetings
Local Law 196 of 2017 obviously, creates a minimum training requirement for workers on most construction projects, to visit the NYC Site Safety Training website click here.  Permit holders are required to maintain a daily log that identifies each worker and that includes, for each worker a copy of SST card, a limited SST card, a temporary SST card, or an SST supervisor card or proof of taking an OSHA 10-hour; OSHA 30-hour; or 100-hour training program.  Violations of this law will result in a civil penalty of up to $5,000 per untrained worker to be issued to the owner of the site, the permit holder, and the employer of the untrained worker (this could mean up to a $15,000 fine, based on contract language, to the employer of the untrained worker).  Failing to maintain the log will result in a civil penalty of $2,500.  The gradual phase-in, the list of General and Specialized Elective courses, and the recent release of what it will take to become an approved training provider all seem to imply that the later dates may be the actual dates of implementation.  As we see now.

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Thursday, August 27, 2020

Governor Cuomo Announces Schools Can Open. Can They or Should They?

New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo announced that public schools can decide to open as long as they are in a region where the average rate of positive coronavirus tests is below 5 percent over a two-week period.  To read Governor Cuomo's announcement click here.  It is interesting to note that still means School Districts will have to figure out how to open, handle busing, and all the other parts of the schooling process.  There is plenty of information that indicates that children are very efficient spreaders of viruses.  Forbes magazine recently published an article "New Evidence Suggests Young Children Spread Covid-19 More Efficiently Than Adults", which is about two studies, one published in  The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) and the other is a pre-print manuscript awaiting peer-review.  The JAMA study shows young children who have mild to moderate Covid-19 symptoms have 10 to 100 times as much SARS-CoV-2 in the nasopharynx as older children and adults.  The other study showed that children age 14 and younger risk of transmitting Covid-19 was 22.4 percent—more than twice that of adults aged 30 to 49, whose rate of contagiousness was about 11 percent.  As an industrial hygienist and a certified indoor environmental consultant, we believe school administration/boards of education need to use some basic industrial hygiene and indoor air quality principles to open safely.  It will mean that quite a few things need to change to be able to keep students, teachers, and staff safe.  Like any basic industrial hygiene problem, we should use the hierarchy of controls to protect workers by reducing the potential exposure to SARS-CoV-2.

Hierarchy of Control Methods

The first hierarchy of control is the elimination or the substitution of the hazard.  This control is about prevention if we can eliminate the exposure then we eliminate the hazard.  So if we can make sure individuals with Covid-19 do not attend school we can eliminate the exposure.  To accomplish this most facilities are doing a combination of questionnaires and temperature taking to ensure people who are sick stay home and out of the workplace.  However, this does not capture asymptomatic individuals who can also spread SARS-CoV-2.   A recent study discussed in STAT's article "Fever checks are a flawed way to flag Covid-19 cases", indicated that Covid-19 patients were 27 times more likely than others to have lost their sense of smell.  But they were only 2.6 times more likely to have fever or chills, suggesting that anosmia (the loss of sense of smell) produces a clearer signal and may, therefore, be a better Covid-19 catching net than fever.  The idea of using a smell test is supported by a USA Today article "Why do so many COVID-19 patients lose their sense of smell? Scientists now know."  Testing to determine if an individual has lost their sense of smell can be done in several ways (for example, having a person smell a scratch-and-sniff card and pick the correct odor out of four choices) with the gold standard being the University of Pennsylvania Smell Identification Test called UPSIT.  The scents are released by scratching the microencapsulated scents with a pencil.  The test taker has a choice of 4 answers for each and the test takes 10 to 15 minutes.  This would prevent individuals from entering the school and hence eliminate the hazard.  Unfortunately, it doesn't totally eliminate the hazard.  So we must add additional controls to continue to reduce the exposure.   


The next level of control would be engineering controls.  According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)'s website "Indoor Air and Coronavirus (COVID-19)" there is growing evidence that the SARS-CoV-2 remains airborne in indoor environments for hours, potentially increasing in concentration over time.  Due to this evidence, we would use the engineering controls ventilation (bringing fresh air from outside) and air filtration (removing the virus from the air inside the building) to reduce the potential exposure to SARS-CoV-2.  The purpose of the heating ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) system of a building is to bring fresh air from outside the building to dilute the contaminants that may build-up in a building.  Humans produce CO2 and body odor plus other contaminants (i.e., moisture, if we're sick viruses & bacteria) and other processes in the building produce other contaminants (i.e., cleaning chemicals, copiers, uncontrolled moisture can produce mold, etc.).  The HVAC system should be designed to reduce these contaminants and provide a certain amount of fresh air per person in the building.  When we are concerned about the indoor air quality (IAQ) of a space we use carbon dioxide (CO2) as an indicator of how well the ventilation system is ventilating a space.  In other words how well the ventilation system, is reducing the contaminants in the space.  The American Society of Heating, Refrigeration, Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) publishes a standard 62.1-2010 "Ventilation for Acceptable Indoor Air Quality" as a guideline for determining acceptable IAQ (for the purposes of comfort).  This guideline recommends maintaining CO2 levels in a space no greater than 700 parts per million (ppm) above outdoor air levels.  However, a recent article in The Conversation titled "How to use ventilation and air filtration to prevent the spread of coronavirus indoors" discusses research that showed the effects of ventilation on a tuberculosis outbreak at Taipei University.  The study showed when engineers improved air circulation in the rooms and got the CO2 levels in the rooms reduced to under 600 ppm (from above 3,000 ppm) the outbreak stopped.  This shows that if we use CO2 detectors in rooms to ensure the rooms are properly ventilated and we can keep CO2 levels below 600 ppm we have a better chance of reducing transmission of the virus in these rooms.  The same article also discusses using air cleaners for air filtration there are several items to understand when using air cleaners.  First, you want an air cleaner that has a high-efficiency particulate air filter (HEPA) that is capable of filtering the particles at 99.97% of all particles at 5 microns and greater. The next thing to consider is how powerful it is and finally how reliable are its claims.  The Conversation article provides some excellent links for the Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers (AHAM) that certifies air cleaners and a Harvard-Colorado University Boulder Air Cleaner Calculator for Schools tool for helping to decide the best air cleaner for a particular classroom.  This too may not completely eliminate the hazard so we will have to go to the next control - Administrative and work practice controls.

According to The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)'s website  "How COVID-19 Spreads" the virus is thought to spread mainly from person-to-person:
  • Between people who are in close contact with one another (within about 6 feet).
  • Through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs, sneezes, or talks.
  • These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly inhaled into the lungs.
  • COVID-19 may be spread by people who are not showing symptoms.
  • It may be possible that a person can get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose, or possibly their eyes.  This is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads.
Administrative controls to reduce this exposure would include social distancing, surface cleaning and disinfecting, and handwashing (we discussed handwashing in our blog post regarding Future Environment Design's Pandemic Policy).  The CDC website "Strategies for Protecting K-12 School Staff from COVID-19" has a lot of information and resources on handling social distancing, and surface cleaning and disinfecting for schools for everything including sports, music, and busing.  Another idea some schools are considering is holding in-person classes outdoors.  An article in the magazine Fast Company titled "Inside the Quest to Reopen Schools-By Moving Classes Outside" discusses the work of the nonprofit organization called Green Schoolyards AmericaGreen Schoolyards America with other organizations has created the National COVID-19 Outdoor Learning Initiative which has been working with schools to create outdoor learning spaces.  This is an outgrowth from a webinar held on June 4, 2020, entitled "Outdoor Spaces as Essential Assets for School Districts's COVID-19 Response".

The final level of control would be personal protective equipment (PPE).  Though face coverings are not truly considered PPE but for the purposes of public health and the fact we want the person to wear something, we will take the liberty to consider it this level of control which is the last and least effective control.

Face Covering, not a surgical mask

If you have read our previous blog post "Filtering Facepiece Respirator or a Dust Mask or N95 Respirator versus a Surgical Mask" on the difference between N95 respirators/filtering facepieces/dust masks vs surgical masks.  You know there is a big difference between surgical masks and N95 respirators.  In our blog post, we mentioned face coverings but there still seems to be some confusion.  We blame the media for not using consistent wording or terminology.  They go back and forth utilizing the wording face coverings and masks.  A face covering is not a mask (though they are now making things that look like a surgical mask but specifically say not for medical use (see picture above), which tells you that it is not a surgical mask but just a face covering).  The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has a website devoted to "COVID-19 Frequently Asked Questions".  This website has some basic points regarding cloth face coverings:
  • May be commercially produced or improvised (i.e., homemade) garments, scarves, bandanas, or items made from t-shirts or other fabrics.
  • Are worn in public over the nose and mouth to contain the wearer's potentially infectious respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs, sneezes, or talks and to limit the spread of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19), to others.
  • Are not considered personal protective equipment (PPE).
  • Will not protect the wearer against airborne transmissible infectious agents due to loose fit and lack of seal or inadequate filtration.
  • Are not appropriate substitutes for PPE such as respirators (e.g., N95 respirators) or medical face masks (e.g., surgical masks) in workplaces where respirators or face masks are recommended or required to protect the wearer.
  • May be used by almost any worker, although those who have trouble breathing or are otherwise unable to put on or remove a mask without assistance should not wear one.
  • May be disposable or reusable after proper washing.

More and more data continues to come in proving the value of wearing face coverings.  The CDC's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report published a study "Absence of Apparent Transmission of SARS-CoV-2 from Two Stylists After Exposure at a Hair Salon with a Universal Face Covering Policy-Springfield, Missouri, May 2020".  The results of that study are pictured above.    Another article that discusses the benefits of face-coverings for protecting people from SARS-CoV2 is at the Fast Company website titled "Countries where everyone wore masks saw COVID death rates 100 times lower than projected".  The CDC has a website called "Use of Cloth Face Coverings to Help Slow the Spread of COVID-19".  This website provides information regarding cloth face coverings; how to wear cloth face coverings, considerations for wearing cloth face coverings, making cloth face coverings, and washing cloth face coverings.

By using the hierarchy of controls we discussed above, schools could open to in-person schooling.  But these are significant changes to the way schools have been run for years.  The question really is does the school have the resources to change and can it adapt to these changes.  Very tough questions for administrators, teachers, and parents, and students.     

Wednesday, July 22, 2020

Long Island Enters Phase 4 and Future Environment Designs is Back in Business!

The Long Island region entered Phase 4 on July 8, 2020.  That same day Future Environment Designs was given permission to start offering in-person asbestos and mold refresher courses, again.  Though there are several restrictions with this reopening one of the more important restrictions is the requirement of social distancing in the class and the need to wear face coverings when that is not possible.  We are attempting to hold virtual classes and in-person classes every month.  Allowing you to have the option of whether you prefer to attend an in-person course versus a virtual course.  To see what our clients have been saying about our recent training courses visit our review page at at  
FEDTC Face Covering

For our in-person training courses, we are providing hand sanitizer and face coverings for all students attending the course.  We are requesting all students before attending any in-person course to take their temperature and go to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) Covid-19 website  At the CDC website, click on the self-check symptoms button and complete the Coronavirus Self Checker and follow the instructions after completing the self checker.  If the self checker says "Sounds like you are feeling ok.", "No Covid-19 testing needed at this time.", and your temperature is below 100 degrees Fahrenheit you can attend training.  Once you arrive we will also be taking your temperature to ensure before you attend the training that you are below 100.0 degrees Fahrenheit.

As we've written previously, we are using Go-To-Meeting as our platform for our virtual meetings.  We've had a few technical difficulties but otherwise considering we've only been using the platform for only three months it has worked pretty smoothly.  We are using several other tools to make the class interesting and fun.  We are using to create discussions in the class regarding certain topics, every attendee is encouraged to access the Administrate portal before class so they can access the course manual and review for the exam, which at the end of class is also located in the portal.  In addition, we use for course evaluations.  As we continue with the new normal we will do everything we can to protect your safety in our classes and provide you with the information you have come to expect from coming to Future Environment Designs!  See you soon!  

Wednesday, June 17, 2020

PACNY's Environmental Conference Day Three - A NYSDOL Surprises with Fast Track Variances!

The last day of the Professional Abatement Contractors of New York's (PACNY's) 24th annual Environmental Conference was held at the Turning Stone Casino in Verona, New York on Friday, February 28, 2020.  The last day started similar to the first day with opening remarks from Ms. Deb Sanscrainte, of ARAMSCO and the conference chairwoman, and Timothy Thomas of Tetra Tech and President of PACNY.  These remarks included a change in the program because a snowstorm caused the originally scheduled speaker unable to attend the conference.  The beginning presentation was by Martin S. Rutstein, Ph.D., President of Ecological Consulting & Management Services, Inc. discussing talc litigation.  Followed by Brent Kynoch of the Environmental Information Association (EIA) discussing the benefits of joining the EIA.  The Regulatory Day of the conference includes the last chance of visiting the Vendor Exhibit Hall with a continental breakfast and visit the 30 vendors to get a chance to win the vendor gift cards/prizes.

Dr.Rutstein speaking about talc litigation

After the two morning presentations, and a short break in the Vendor Exhibit Hall, the New York State Department of Labor's (NYSDOL's) Panel with a question and answer session began.  The panel included  Dr. Eileen Franko, the Director; Mr. James Meacham Program Manager, Asbestos Control Bureau; Mr. Kirk Fisher, Program Manager, Licensing & Certification; and Mr. Ed Smith, Program Manager, Engineering Services Unit.  Questions and answers session was moderated by Mr. Tim Thomas of Tetra Tech Engineering.

NYSDOL Panel Discussion

The panel started with some opening remarks by Dr. Eileen Franko which included announcing her retirement in March 2020.  Making this the last year she will be on the panel.  Those of us who have gotten to know Dr. Franko through the years will miss her leadership and her willingness to listen to the industry and work with the industry to better things for all contractors and consultants.  As usual, the discussion of a new industrial code came up and it is still being worked on.  Mr. Smyth announced, to everyone's surprise, that they had launched a pilot program for certain site-specific variances (SSVs).  This pilot program is called Fast Track Variances.  These variances are common variances that are issued regularly by NYSDOL.  The purpose of this program is to speed up the review process for these routine variances and reduce the workload.  Currently, SSVs can take two to three weeks to turnaround.  Fast Track Variances can potentially be issued within the same day they are received.  There are 10 Fast Track Variances available and can be found at NYSDOL's Division of Safety and Health (DOSH) Engineering Services Unit's website.  Mr. Meacham discussed enforcement regarding Article 32 the NYS Mold Law.  NYSDOL has received 175 complaints and has issued 30 violations.  Most of the complaints are tenant-landlord complaints which do not apply to the law.

Future Environment Designs was a Gold Sponsor of PACNY's Environmental Conference

Another conference has ended and another successful year for PACNY with over 600 people attending the conference with 30 vendors exhibiting in the Vendor Exhibit hall both increases versus last year.  Though we are happy for Dr. Franco and wish her all the best, the industry will miss her.  Though she does leave us with a solid group of professionals running the various divisions that matter to the asbestos and mold industries.  Hope to see you next year!  

Monday, June 08, 2020

Asbestos Training Providers Slowly Reopen - FEDTC Initial Training is Back!

On Wednesday, June 3, 2020, Karen Cummings, M.P.H., Director of the New York State Department of Health's (NYSDOH) Asbestos Safety Training Program notified asbestos training providers that they were allowed to offer in-person initial asbestos training.  Empire State Development had determined that statewide initial asbestos safety training can begin in-person.  She also notified us that refresher training must remain online/remote until the rest of the education industry is opened (which would be Phase 4).
Karen Cummings, M.P.H.

Training providers are required to follow all state and federal requirements on social-distancing, personal hygiene (hand-washing/sanitizer use), face coverings, cleaning/disinfecting, etc.  Training providers are required to check the New York Forward site at for guidance and questions regarding re-opening your business should be directed to Empire State Development.

Future Environment Designs Training Center is working on scheduling an #asbestos supervisor initial course and we already have a mold worker, mold remediation/supervisor, and mold assessment initial course on the schedule starting June 29, 2020.  Visit our website for our current schedule.

Wednesday, May 27, 2020

New York State Allows Teleconferencing of Asbestos Refresher Courses During COVID-19 PAUSE.

On Friday, May 8, 2020, Karen Cummings, M.P.H., Director of the New York State Department of Health's (NYSDOH) Asbestos Safety Training Program announced that because of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, asbestos training providers were being allowed to submit for approval their teleconferencing plans for asbestos refresher training courses.

Karen Cummings, MPH, Director of NYSDOH Asbestos Safety Training Program
For a training provider to be considered for teleconferencing, the training provider must already be approved to instruct the discipline.  Providers are expected to use their existing approved curriculum during the course.  Teleconferencing plans must include: 

  • The video-conferencing platform they will use.
  • How they will verify the identity of participants.
  • How will the instructor check to see if students are paying attention?
  • How will the instructor handle students who are distracted or engaging in unrelated activities?
  • What type of participation will the instructor require from the students?
  • How will the instructor check to see if students return from breaks?
  • How will the instructor handle students being late, either at the onset of class or when returning from breaks?
  • How will examinations be administered?
  • How will DOH-2832 certificates be issued?
The teleconferencing plan must meet and answer these questions.  In addition, the plan must meet these general requirements:

  • Must be an existing provider with an approved asbestos safety curriculum for the discipline to be taught. Only approved training course material can be utilized during the course. Course material normally distributed in class must be made available to the student either by mail or email prior to the class.
  • All requirements for courses remain for notifications, revisions, cancelations, maintaining paperwork, etc.
  • The student information memo needs to be provided to the student. The student must return the signed document to the provider (via email is acceptable).
  • Rosters shall be submitted with students’ names and DMV numbers, along with proof of attendance and identity, and the signed student information memo for each student listed on the roster.
  • All participants must have a good internet connection.
  • Each student must sign in to the teleconferencing platform individually.  Multiple students cannot share a sign-on.
  • All students and the instructor must have video capability. The student must remain visible to the camera during all instruction.
  • The entire training session must be recorded and be made available to the NYSDOH upon requestStudents must be made aware they are being recorded.
  • The NYSDOH must be given call-in information for the class
  • Participants must attend the session in its entirety.  They cannot “arrive” into the online session late and they must return from breaks on time. If they arrive to the course late, they cannot be admitted into the course.  If they do not arrive back from break on time, they cannot continue the course. No make-up time will be allowed.
  • Participants cannot have distractions (people and pets interrupting, television on, excess background noise, etc.).
  • During instruction time, students may not engage in any activities unrelated to the class (for example: talk to people who are not in the class, texting, surfing the internet, playing games on phone, etc.).
  • Instruction must include interactive participatory training methods. All students must actively participate in classroom discussions. Providing only a lecture is not permitted.
  • Font size must be large enough and easily legible.

Instructor-led Courses are shutdown during the PAUSE
Future Environment Design's (FEDTC's) Teleconferencing Plan was approved.  The week of May 18, 2020, we ran our first virtual instructor-led training courses.  We would like to thank all those who attended the training and followed the requirements.  The requirements above have been underlined for emphasis.  FEDTC is using GoToMeeting as our teleconferencing platform.  In using that platform your attendance is digitally entered on the attendance sheet when you sign-in to the platform and we start the recording at the class start time.  The class session is recorded with all the attendee's audio and video feeds are on the recording.  So individuals must be on camera and signed into the portal once the recording starts (no exceptions!) or they will be locked out of the course, as required by NYSDOH.  As you see above, we are not allowed to have make-up time with these classes.

As for the training materials, and the exams, we've been using Administrate as our Learning Management System (LMS) since 2015.  Many of you have already been accessing the system for the course manual.  Now the exam will be online at that portal, too.  Course evaluations are also online at and have been online for two-three years now.

After the PAUSE, expect class sizes to be smaller in larger rooms to allow for social distancing.
Some other points, NYSDOH prohibits training providers from mailing blank DOH2832 forms to students.  The NYSDOH student information sheet is your official signature for the attendance sheets and the provider and NYSDOH copies of the DOH2832 forms.  Training providers will mail the students the completed student and New York State Department of Labor (NYSDOL) copies of the DOH2832 form.  Remember you must sign the NYSDOL copy of the DOH2832 form before sending it with your application, check, and the appendix to the license (child support form).

FEDTC looks forward to being able to provide this service to our clients.  Please remember we can only continue to provide this service if everyone complies with the NYSDOH rules.  All it could take is one person and NYSDOH may decide to discontinue this teleconferencing plan, at any time.

Saturday, May 09, 2020

PACNY's Day Two - So Much Information Packed Into One Day, Amazing!

On Thursday, February 27, 2020, Ms. Deb Sanscrainte, of ARAMSCO and the conference chairwoman, and Timothy Thomas of Tetra Tech and President of PACNY,  opened the second day, known as the Professional Day, of the Professional Abatement Contractors of New York's (PACNY's) 24th annual Environmental Conference, being held at the Turning Stone Casino in Verona, New York.  Attendees expected a full day of presentations ending with the Conference Sponsors Reception.  Presentations from the conference can be found on PACNY's website.  The Professional Day of the conference includes the opening of the Vendor Exhibit Hall with a continental breakfast and 30 vendors attending the conference, an increase from last year!  See the reception video to see the various vendors!

The keynote speaker for the conference was Ms. Luann Meyer, Solid Waste Administrator for Monroe County Department of Environmental Services, speaking on "Recycling-The Long and Winding Road".  She discussed that most counties have fact sheets to know what is or aren't recyclable or you can tell by the shape of the container.  She also discussed the New York State's plastic bag ban that went into effect March 1, 2020, all single-use plastic bags have been banned.  Paper bags are not part of the ban and all stores that collect sales tax are impacted.  Our next speaker was Jack Snider III, President & Sr. Consultant of AMRC Environmental Services, speaking on "Take Home Asbestos Exposure".  Mr. Snider discussed the asbestos abatement illusion regarding the decontamination of the workers.  He stated that workers, in Florida, during the removal of the floor tile, mastic, and other non-friable asbestos-containing materials (ACM) typically wore street clothes into the work area, and they are not showering nor vacuuming themselves/their clothing upon exiting the containment.  If showers and vacuums are provided the showers are not connected nor attached to the work areas.  When questioned why the workers did not decontaminate or wear proper personal protective (PPE) common responses included "the air samples did not show elevated fibers"; "It's floor tile"; and "I have been doing this longer than you!".  The presentation then went into how he collected his samples using the American Society of Testing and Material (ASTM) standard D5755-09 microvacuum sampling method to collect several samples from workers, their clothing, vehicles, and surface areas after clearance of the work area was conducted.  Findings from his study suggest asbestos abatement workers are bringing home significant amounts of asbestos fibers from these types of projects.  The presentation was eye-opening! 

Ms. Luann Meyer Discusses Recycling

After a break in the Vendor Exhibit Hall, the presentations continued.  Similar to the first day of the conference, the next two presentations and the last presentation of the day awarded continuing education points for architects and engineers attending the conference.  These points were awarded by the American Institute of Architects (AIA) and were coordinated by Kevin Hutton, of the Rochester Colonial Manufacturing Corp.  The presentations awarding these points were Martin S. Rutstein, Ph.D. & Marc E. Rutstein, CAI, Presidents of Ecological Consulting & Management Services, Inc., discussing "Regulations - How did we get here and Where are we going?"; Sean Miller's and Mike Mazzara's, of Genesee Environmental, LLC, presentation included information provided by Stephen R. Gheen, PE, of Gheen Engineering (who could not present due to illness), on "Mercury in Sports Floors, Regulatory Guidance, Remediation, and Disposal"; and Joseph Cantone, of Colden Corp., Sean Hart, of Energy & Environment, and Peter Delucia, of AAC Contracting, presentation "Asbestos Surveys: The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly".

Kevin Hutton, of the Rochester Colonial Manufacturing Corp. 

The Rutstein's presentation talked about the asbestos regulations and some advice for asbestos professionals -  plan the job-take a fresh look, hire good staff (exert oversight of site staff), maintain required records, and plan for unexpected contingencies!  Mr. Miller's and Mr. Mazzara's presentation on Mercury in Sports Floors was a deep dive into mercury remediation regulations, guidelines, and the disposal process.  An important point made in the presentation was how it was different from an asbestos job.  In addition, Mr. Mazzara's section on mercury waste handling, transportation, and disposal provided a lot of information on handling hazardous wastes.
Sean Miller Discusses Its Not An Asbestos Job
Mike Mazzara Discusses Mercury Waste Handling, Transportation & Disposal

After a lunch break and time spent in the Vendor Exhibit Hall, the next presenter was Jennifer Kavney Harvey, Esq., Partner of Coach White, LLP,  discussing "NYS WBE/MBE Requirements".  Ms. Harvey's presentation pointed out that spending in the last nine years for Minority-owned and Women-owned Business Enterprises (MWBEs) has increased by 25 times (in dollars) while the number of MWBEs has increased by 18%.  In addition, she discussed the Governor's 2014 press release increasing the statewide composite goal to 30% without a disparity study basis, modifying the Executive Law, or modifying the MWBE regulations. Most goals from 2014 to the present were 30%.  After a short break in the Vendor Exhibit Hall, the next presenter was Karlee Bolanos, Partner at Bolanos Lowe PLLC, discussing "Understanding Your NYS Sexual Harassment Prevention Obligations".  Ms. Bolanos discussed Sexual Harassment Prevention requirements that were effective October 9, 2018, that included a New York model policy that at a minimum must prohibit sexual harassment; provide examples of prohibited conduct; include information concerning the federal and state laws; include a statement regarding applicable local laws & contacting law enforcement; include a standard complaint form: include a procedure for the timely and confidential investigation of complaints and due process for all parties; include information about rights of redress; clearly state that sexual harassment is considered a form of employee misconduct; and clearly state that retaliation against prohibited.  She also discussed recent changes that were effective October 11, 2019, regarding behavior beyond a "petty slight" or "trivial inconvenience" that may be illegal.  

Jennifer Kavney Harvey, Esq Discusses MWBE Spending & Utilization

Karlee Bolanos discussing Sexual Harassment Law

The final presentation of the day was Joseph Cantone, of Colden Corp., Sean Hart, of Energy & Environment, and Peter Delucia, of AAC Contracting, discussing "Asbestos Surveys: The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly".  Obviously, their presentation was broken into three sections with Mr. Cantone talking about good asbestos surveys,  Mr. Hart talking about bad asbestos surveys, and Mr. Delucia talking about ugly asbestos surveys.  The day ended in the Vendor Exhibit Hall with the Conference Sponsors Reception, which included Hors d'oeuvres, food, and an open bar.  The after-party at Dival's Safety Equipment's hospitality suite allowed for more time to network and discuss the presentations of the past two days!  All the presentations were excellent and provided very useful information for those who attended the conference.  Looking forward to day three and the New York State Department of Labor Panel! 
Peter Delucia, Sean Hart & Joseph Colden


Monday, April 27, 2020

New Course Offerings From Future Environment Designs!

Future Environment Designs is proud to announce the development of several new e-learning and virtual training courses.  The first virtual training course is this Friday, May 1, 2020, at 10 AM.  We will be providing training on SARS-CoV-2 (coronavirus) the virus that causes Covid-19.  This training course will include three modules covering Covid-19 awareness, Covid-19 Pandemic Response Plan, and Cleaning, Disinfecting, and Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for SARS-CoV-2.  Click here to register for this course.  If you can't make the virtual learning course, we also created an e-learning Covid-19 course which also includes the three modules.  Click here to register for the e-learning course.  We created both courses to cover the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) training requirements for workers that have the potential to be exposed to SARS-CoV-2.

SARS-CoV-2 (coronavirus)

We also created a four-hour e-learning course for bloodborne pathogens to meet the requirements of the OSHA bloodborne pathogen standard and NYS's Nassau County training requirement for the Environmental Hazard Remediation Contractors License.  See our blog post for more on the Nassau County requirements.  In addition, we created a Respirator Hierarchy course to try and clarify some of the confusion out there regarding respirators.  You can register to take either of these e-learning courses or any of the other courses we created at  Also, remember if you take a number of training courses with Future Environment Designs the best value and price would be to sign-up for a training subscription at our patron page

Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Proficiency Day - Day One of PACNY's 24th Annual Environmental Conference!

Every year we look forward to the Professional Abatement Contractors of New York's (PACNY's) Environmental Conference.  This year was no exception considering it was the 24th annual.  The conference started on Wednesday, February 26, 2020, with Proficiency Day and Mr. Angelo Garcia, III of Future Environment Designs, Inc., (FEDTC) who had the honor this year of starting off the conference.  Proficiency Day this year focused on asbestos contamination assessment that was suggested by Mr. James Meacham, PE, of New York State Department of Labor (NYSDOL) and we greatly appreciated his agreeing to also do a presentation on the topic.  In addition, we were able to convince Mr. Bart Gallagher, of Enviroscience Consultants, Inc., to do a case study presentation on the contamination assessment involved with the Long Island dumping cases.  For the second year in a row, proficiency day provided 3 PDH for professional engineers, architects, & other certifications.

Poll Everywhere Result

Angelo Garcia, III's presentation focused on the regulatory requirements or the lack of regulatory requirements of asbestos contamination assessments. The presentation also included polling of the audience using Poll Everywhere.  The basic points of the presentation were that most of the information we use regarding contamination assessments come from the Guidance Document which was a frequently asked questions document created by NYSDOL as a supplement to NYSDOL Industrial Code Rule 56 - Asbestos Regulation and the collection of dust and debris samples is very tricky, and the most important thing is how do you interpret the results?

Mr. James Meacham, P.E. discussing Contamination Assessments
 James Meacham's presentation focused on some of the issues NYSDOL has been seeing regarding contamination assessments.  He discussed the assessment tools such as using your eyes, documentation, bulk sampling, air sampling, wipe sampling, micro-vacuum sampling, and tape lifts.  What do the results mean using these assessment tools and does it need to be zero?  Well maybe not.  Clean air under state law is less than 0.01 fibers per cubic centimeters of air (that's not zero).  Mr. Meacham also discussed debris pile assessment and the need for the inspector to visually inspect the debris for suspect asbestos-containing materials (ACM) and determine if representative sampling is feasible and can be done safely.  The presentation included a draft decision tree for debris assessment.

Bart Gallagher discussing the Case Study
After a short break, Bart Gallagher's presentation was on the contamination assessment that was done for the Long Island dumping case.  Mr. Gallagher's presentation went into the different causes of damage such as environmental causes or ignorance, carelessness, and neglect.  Criminal actions are rare...but are committed.  The specific points of the Long Island dumping case were that soil borings were done with Geoprobe and split-spoon sampling to test for volatile organic compounds (VOCs), semi-VOCs, metals, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and pesticides.  Test trenches were more effective for finding ACM than the Geoprobe.  The variance application to NYSDOL was similar to 56-11.5 controlled demolition with machine excavation and loading into lined trucks/roll-offs, decontamination area for equipment, proper disposal, and project monitoring and air sampling.

"Remember I'm not in the book"
The first day then continued later that evening with the PACNY President's (Timothy Thomas, of Tetra Tech) reception which included drinks and appetizers and a lot of networking.  Some of the above presentations are available in our dropbox folder under conference presentations (2020PACNY presentations) or you can also find them at PACNY's website.  The first day went extremely well and did a great job warming everyone up for the conference yet to come!

Chrysotile Asbestos Banned? More Like Certain Conditions of Use Will Be Eventually Banned!

Many of you, as did I, read about the " Ban of Chrysotile Asbestos " and rejoiced over something long overdue.  However, after rea...