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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


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...