Tuesday, September 30, 2014

OSHA Wrap-Up: September 2014

OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) is responsible for the regulation of safe and healthy work environments for working men and women by means of enforcing standards and conducting training, education, and assistance. Through numerous acts and statutes, OSHA holds companies to a standard of working conditions that is both beneficial and safe for both employees and employers. Often, companies either willingly or inadvertently disregard certain standards set forth by OSHA thereby violating the mandated regulations. When this occurs, OSHA steps in and assesses the extent of the violations and cites them in order to prevent further occurrences of such violations.

The following companies were cited with various OSHA violations in the past month:
  • In Ravenna, Ohio, rubber production plant, Portage Precision Polymers has been cited for 15 serious safety and health violations. Most of the citations issued were for worker exposure to combustible dust and potential amputation hazards. Under certain conditions, combustible dust can become explosive when suspended in the air in the proper concentration. The amputation hazards found on the site included lack of machine guarding and failing to implement specific lockout procedures which would prevent machine operation during maintenance routines. The citations carried with them a proposed penalty totaling more than $61,000 by the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration. OSHA received a complaint regarding the site which was then followed up with a thorough investigation. 
  • In Cleveland, Ohio, manufacturing plant, MCM Industries Co. has been cited for one willful and 17 serious health and safety violations. Both the willful and serious violations involved amputation hazards. The violations found on the site included lack of machine guarding and failure to implement specific lockout procedures which would prevent machine operation during maintenance routines.  The citations carried with them a proposed penalty totaling more that $126,000 in fines by the U.S. Department of Labor's OSHA.
  • In Landsdowne, PA, masonry contractor, JC Stucco and Stone Inc. has been cited for three willful and three repeat serious safety violations. After an investigation was conducted by request of Philadelphia Department of Licenses and Inspections the company was found to using scaffolding that failed to provide adequate bracing as well as a lack of fall protection for employees working up to a height of 32 feet. The willful violations were cited fines of $200,500 while the repeat citations incurred a fine of $35,200. Thus totaling a proposed penalty of $235,700 in fines.
Compliancy is not only important for the secure operation of a construction site or a plant but for the overall safety and protection of the site's employees. For training and extensive courses, visit GreenEdu.com to maintain compliance to all such OSHA standards and requirements.

News Release: HUD Awards $112M For Lead Removal and Healthy Home Initiatives

For Immediate Release September 30, 2014 by HUD
HUD Contact: Shantae Goodloe, (202) 708-0685 - http://www.hud.gov/news/index.cfm

Funding to make low-income housing safer and healthier

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) today awarded more than $112 million in grants to 39 local and state government agencies and research institutions to protect children and families from the hazards of lead-based paint and from other home health and safety hazards (see chart below).

The grant funding announced today will reduce the number of lead-poisoned children and protect families by targeting health hazards in nearly 7,000 low-income homes with significant lead and/or other home health and safety hazards. In addition, some of these grants will support research on increasing the effectiveness of hazard reduction methods. These programs have a demonstrated history of success, filling critical needs in communities where no other resources exist to address substandard housing that threatens the health of the most vulnerable residents, and filling research gaps essential for being able to reduce hazard reduction costs.

As HUD approaches its 50th anniversary next year, HUD Secretary Julián Castro is focused on advancing policies that create opportunities for all Americans, including helping children and families secure quality housing by protecting them from the hazards of lead-based paint and other home health and safety hazards.

"No person should ever be in harm's way when cooking dinner in their kitchen or playing with children in the living room," said Castro. "These grant awards will help communities eliminate home-related hazards and give families new opportunities to thrive. Housing is a critical source of stability, and HUD is committed to helping ensure that all Americans have a healthy safe place to live."

"Millions of families and children are seeing their hope for the future threatened by poor health simply because of where they live," noted Matthew E. Ammon, Acting Director of HUD's Office of Lead Hazard Control and Healthy Homes. "Every child deserves to grow up in a healthy home and yet far too many continue to be exposed to potentially dangerous lead and other health hazards in the home."

Unsafe and unhealthy homes affect the health of millions of people of all income levels, geographic areas, and walks of life in the U.S. These unsafe and unhealthy homes affect the economy directly, through increased utilization of health care services, and indirectly through lost wages and increased school days missed. Housing improvements help prevent injuries and illnesses, reduce associated health care and social services costs, reduce absentee rates for children in school and adults at work, and reduce stress, all which help to improve the quality of life.

The following is a breakdown of the funding announced today by grant program:

Grant Program
Funding Awarded
Lead-Based Paint Hazard Control Grant Program (LBPHC)
Lead Hazard Reduction Demonstration Grant Program (LHRD)
Lead Technical Studies Grant Program (LTS)
Healthy Homes Technical Studies Grant Program (HHTS)
* This includes the $11,402,967 HUD is awarding to assist in the promotion and development of programs to concurrently identify and address multiple housing-related health hazards with lead hazard control intervention work.

HUD's Office of Healthy Homes and Lead Hazard Control promotes local efforts to eliminate dangerous lead paint and other housing-related health hazards from lower income homes; stimulate private sector investment in lead hazard control; support cutting-edge research on methods for assessing and controlling housing-related health and safety hazards; and educate the public about the dangers of hazards in the home. Read a complete project-by-project summary of the programs awarded grants today.

The funding announced today directs critical funds to cities, counties and states to eliminate dangerous lead paint and other housing-related health hazards in thousands of privately-owned, low-income housing units. HUD is also providing over $11.4 million to help communities mitigate multiple health hazards in high risk housing simultaneously, in conjunction with their lead hazard control activities.

Today's funding also directs funds to public and private universities and research organizations to improve methods to detect lead paint in the home, assess the effectiveness of lead laws, improve home fall protection for the elderly, improve sustainable pest management strategies, evaluate the health effects of smoke-free policies, and assess home air cleaning in reducing childhood asthma.

Become certified to perform lead paint removal from homes - Lead Abatement Contractor/Supervisor training is available nationwide. Visit www.greenedu.com to learn more!

The following is a state-by-state breakdown of the funding announced today:
City of Phoenix
California Department of Community Services and Development
City of Los Angeles
City of San Diego Environmental Services Department
County of Alameda
City of Hartford
District of Columbia
State of Delaware Health and Social Services
City of Atlanta
City of Marshalltown
Purdue University
City of Chicago Department of Public Health
City of Kankakee
Harvard University
Quantech, Inc.
City of Lewiston
City of Detroit
County of Muskegon
City of Minneapolis
City of St. Louis
County of St. Louis
Kansas City Missouri Health Department
Washington University
City of Nashua
New Hampshire Housing Finance Authority
City of Schenectady
Erie County
Monroe County Department of Public Health
Onondaga County Community Development Division
City of Cincinnati
City of Columbus Department of Development
University of Cincinnati
City of Providence
The Providence Plan
City of Fort Worth
City of Roanoke
City of Burlington
City of Milwaukee Health Department
Kenosha County Division of Health

*Grant program abbreviations are as follows:
HHTS - Healthy Homes Technical Studies
LBPHC - Lead Based Paint Hazard Control Grant Program
               (includes Healthy Homes Initiative supplemental funding, as applicable)
LHRD - Lead Based Paint Hazard Reduction Demonstration Grant Program
              (includes Healthy Homes Initiative supplemental funding, as applicable)
LTS - Lead Technical Studies

About the US Department Housing and Urban Development (HUD)
HUD's mission is to create strong, sustainable, inclusive communities and quality affordable homes for all. HUD is working to strengthen the housing market to bolster the economy and protect consumers; meet the need for quality affordable rental homes: utilize housing as a platform for improving quality of life; build inclusive and sustainable communities free from discrimination; and transform the way HUD does business. More information about HUD and its programs is available at www.hud.gov and espanol.hud.gov. You can also follow HUD on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, or sign up for news alerts on HUD's Email List.

Friday, September 26, 2014

USGBC Project for Hazardous Materials Transparency

In 2012, the USGBC created the LEED, Materials, and Health Project which consisted of three parts:
  • Consistency – harmonizing product transparency and optimization programs
  • Research – determining the effects of materials on health
  • Adoption – understanding where opportunities and challenges are for increasing the disclosure of ingredient profiles
In an attempt to make product transparency the norm in order to focus more attention on building material ingredients, the goals of this project were straightforward:
  • Improve the indoor environment from a human health perspective
  • Reduce barriers to materials transparency
  • Improve the understanding of health impacts of building materials
  • Bring materials transparency and product optimization into the mainstream
In order to successfully accomplish the goals of the LEED, Materials, and Health Project, the two most important aspects that need to be solved are: standardization and classification.  There needs to be a universal standard for labeling hazardous materials in place for a clear and concise disclosure of materials' ingredients. Additionally, there needs to be a scientific understanding of what the listed ingredients mean and the kind of handling and disposal they require.

The big issue the USGBC was met with was the so-called labeling schemes companies use to sweep the true identity of chemical ingredients under the rug. Comparable to the food companies who use every name under the sun to place sugar in the labels other than the simple straightforward "sugar." When people are ill-informed or uneducated in regards to the complicated labels of scientific names, this can lead to the improper use, handling, or disposal of hazardous materials.

The USGBC has met this issue with a number of events which bring in lecturers who lend their perspectives on how to deal with such deception on the part of chemical companies. In one particular event, in partnership with the Health Product Declaration Collaborative, "The Importance of Material Disclosure and Transparency for the Future Health of the Built Environment: A Community Developer’s Perspective" John Knott, the Executive Director of HPDC, discussed the importance of material disclosure and transparency to promote human and ecological health. Not only are these materials potentially dangerous to the people handling them, if they are not disposed of properly they can cause serious damage to the environment and even lead to long lasting health hazards.

Another event hosted by the USGBC in partnership with the Green Science Policy Institute "Healthy Buildings: Reducing the Use of Flame Retardants and the ‘Six Classes’ of Harmful Chemicals" brought in Arlene Blum, Ph.D who discussed the approach of classifying the over 80,000 US-registered chemicals into six classes. The six class approach allows for a clear way of revealing the potential health hazards associated with individual chemicals. This approach has the potential to make understanding scientific ingredients more attainable for anyone involved in the handling of such materials.

The next step in achieving healthy, green buildings is through a harmonious relationship between material transparency and a scientific understanding of the ingredients of said materials. In creating this relationship, it will be easier to foresee and reduce any potential health impacts in order to build a safer and more environmentally friendly structure.

Learn more about the LEED green building rating system at www.greenedu.com/leed-certification. To achieve training and certification for the use and disposal of hazardous materials, visit Green Education Services for a full line-up of Hazardous Materials courses. 

USGBC News Release: Increased Demand for LEED Professionals

This post was originally published by USGBC on September 15, 2014:

Studies Reveal Growing Demand for LEED-Credentialed Professionals Across Building Sector

Washington, D.C. — Today, the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) announced the results of a study of job postings from across the United States, revealing that demand for the LEED Accredited Professional (LEED AP) and LEED Green Associate credentials grew 46 percent over a 12-month period.

“This figure tells a powerful story about the value that building-industry employers assign to knowledgeable, LEED-credentialed professionals,” said Rick Fedrizzi, president, CEO and founding chair, USGBC. “LEED is a transformative force within the building sector, and every day, our network of more than 197,000 LEED APs and Green Associates are helping to advance the industry and push building projects to new heights of performance and resource efficiency.”

The study, conducted by USGBC education partner Pearson, using data provided by Burning Glass, found a total of 9,033 U.S. job postings from March 2013 to February 2014 that required a LEED credential. Top fields being advertised included available positions in mechanical, electrical and civil engineering; construction management; architecture; software development; sales management; property management; and interior design, among others.

A secondary 90-day study conducted by Pearson, using data provided by Burning Glass, from January 2014 to March 2014 of 2,354 U.S. green-building related positions also found LEED as the skill in highest demand by a wide margin. LEED appeared in 59 percent of all postings, compared to the second-most-required skill, which appeared in 17 percent of the postings.

The LEED AP credential affirms advanced knowledge in specialized areas of green building, expertise in a particular LEED rating system and competency in the certification process. It is suited for practitioners actively working on LEED projects to showcase their deep technical knowledge of LEED in both principle and practice.

The LEED Green Associate demonstrates a solid, current understanding of green building principles and practices. It is ideal for both professionals newer to the sustainability field or looking to gain experience and exposure to LEED, as well as those working in diverse roles such as product manufacturers, students, real estate professionals, contractors and more.

About the U.S. Green Building CouncilThe U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) is committed to a prosperous and sustainable future through cost-efficient and energy-saving green buildings. USGBC works toward its mission of market transformation through its LEED green building program, robust educational offerings, a nationwide network of chapters and affiliates, the annual Greenbuild International Conference & Expo, the Center for Green Schools and advocacy in support of public policy that encourages and enables green buildings and communities. For more information, visit usgbc.org.

Prepare for your LEED credentialing exam with GreenEDU! Visit www.greenedu.com/leed-certification to get started.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

OSHA Fines for Dangerous Work Conditions in Easthampton

Originally published on GazetteNet.com by Rebecca Everett.
EASTHAMPTON — The federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration has fined the general contractor — which has a history of OSHA violations — and three subcontractors after finding unsafe conditions for workers renovating the former Dye Works building at 15 Cottage St.

OSHA representatives in its Springfield office have performed several inspections — including some after complaints by workers — since renovations began in January on the 50-unit affordable housing project tobe called Cottage Square.

According to OSHA records, the general contractor and three other companies failed to ensure the safety of those working above the ground and workers removing lead paint.

Two subcontractors are contesting the OSHA fines, including A Fast Blast of Connecticut, which was fined $47,600. The two other companies, including the general contractor, have agreed to pay fines for not protecting workers at the site.

General contractor James J. Welch & Co. of Salem, which has a history of violations at other sites, paid $8,874 in fines related to violations at the Dye Works project in April and June. OSHA investigators were back at the site July 11 to check for a possible “fall hazard” after receiving a complaint from a worker, according to OSHA spokesman Edmund Fitzgerald. The issue is still under investigation, he said.

Fitzgerald said he is not aware of any accidents at the 15 Cottage St. site.

Arch Street Development of Boston is renovating the former mill building as part of an $18 million project — paid for partly through federal and state tax credits and subsidies — to create 50 units of affordable rental housing. The developer’s co-owner, Colin P. O’Keeffe, said that he wasaware that OSHA had announced $47,600 in fines against A Fast Blast, but did not know of any other violations at the site.

He said it is the responsibility of the general contractor, to ensure that all employees are safe on the site, including those who work for subcontractors.

“This is the first time we’ve seen this,” O’Keeffe said, adding that Arch Street and Welch worked together on a similar project in North Adams in 2009. “We’re on site more now than we have been earlier in the project. We’re meeting with Welch and subcontractors weekly and trying to keep an eye on all that happens.”

He said that while having one OSHA violation is not unusual on a construction site, “a string of them” is more concerning.

“All projects like this have a lot of moving parts, a lot of players,” he said. “But we’re pretty pleased with the way it’s going. There have been a few bumps in the road, but it’s going to be a great project.”

He said the project is on budget and on track to have low-income tenants by January.

Four companies cited

The U.S. Department of Labor announced July 17 that Maher Industries, doing business as A Fast Blast, would face fines for failing to protect workers’ health while they blasted lead paint off walls during an April 1 inspection prompted by a complaint. The alleged violations included making no efforts to reduce the concentrations of lead and silica in the air when they were over the set exposure limits and failing to provide or train employees to wear respirators and coveralls.

But the day the fines were announced, A Fast Blast Owner James Maher said that James J. Welch & Co. was responsible for ensuring that the workplace was not hazardous. He said he ordered his workers off the site because Welch refused to address his concerns about their safety.

Voicemails and emails for representatives of James J. Welch & Co. were not returned Monday. The company has agreed to pay $8,874 in fines for 14 violations at the site. The amount was reduced from $21,022 as part of an informal settlement.

On June 9, according to OSHA records, Welch violated OSHA regulations that prohibit using scaffolds that are not “fully planked or decked,” using a damaged or weakened scaffold, and allowing employees on scaffolds without protecting them from falling.

After the same April 1 inspection that led to fine for A Fast Blast, Welch was fined for 11 violations including failing to monitor the exposure levels through environmental samples and biological testing of employees, and failing to provide protective clothing, respirators, and the training to wear them appropriately.

Fitzgerald said that both Welch and A Fast Blast were fined for the lead paint issues because employers are responsible for their own employees. “Each employer was cited for the hazards to which their employees were exposed,” he said.

Also accepting a $1,400 fine as part of an informal settlement was E.F. Fogarty Construction of Middleton. According to OSHA records, an inspection June 9 as a result of a complaint found that the company did not protect employees from falling from a low-slope roof by using guardrails, safety nets, harnesses, or a safety monitoring system.

Patriots Environmental Corp. of Oxford is contesting $12,600 in fines for three alleged violations observed during a March 3 inspection prompted by a complaint. The majority of the proposed fines, $9,800, was levied for an alleged repeat violation of the requirement that an employer use guardrails or harnesses to prevent employee from falling in a hoisting area.

The other two alleged violations had to do with using a ladder for a purpose for which it was not designed and failing to ensure a ladder to an upper level was secured at its top.

Past violations

O’Keeffe said he and his partner, Richard Relich, selected James J. Welch & Co. as the general contractor based on the company’s bid price, references and their past experience working together on the Clark Biscuit Apartments in North Adams.

O’Keeffe said they typically do not research OSHA records for past violations when choosing a contractor.

At the Clark Biscuit Apartments in 2009, Welch was fined $600 by OSHA for two violations: failing to add railings or other safety features to a stairwell and failing to mark exits.

Since 2008, OSHA has cited Welch for 62 violations as a result of 11 inspections at Massachusetts construction sites. Those include 22 citations for failing to protect against falls, 16 violations about the use of electrical equipment, 12 violations regarding respiratory hazards, three violations regarding power tools, and other violations including failing to protect workers from impalement on exposed rebar.

The construction sites are in Easthampton, North Adams, South Yarmouth, Cambridge, Boston, Holliston, Dorchester, and Allston.

Rebecca Everett can be reached at reverett@gazettenet.com.

Ensure your workers' safety and stay compliant with OSHA Standards by registering for a licensing course through Green Education Services

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

GBCI and Bureau Veritas Partner to Facilitate LEED Certification

The following news release was originally published by USGBC on July 31, 2014:

Washington, D.C.— Today, the Green Building Certification Institute (GBCI), the third-party certification body for the LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) green building rating system, and Bureau Veritas SA, a leading global testing, inspection and certification body, announced a strategic business partnership. As part of the agreement, Bureau Veritas will facilitate LEED certification on behalf of GBCI for LEED green building projects.

“This collaboration with Bureau Veritas helps us take LEED to the next level,” said Rick Fedrizzi, GBCI board member and president, CEO and founding chair, U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC). “Through our collaboration, we will leverage the scale and scope of Bureau Veritas’ operations and quickly build capacity and global reach to deliver best-in-class, third-party certification for LEED.”

“Partnering with GBCI offers Bureau Veritas an active role in LEED, the world’s most widely used green building program,” said Didier Michaud-Daniel, CEO, Bureau Veritas. “LEED certification allows us to expand our certification offerings related to quality, human health, environmental protection and social responsibility: all incredibly important priorities for our clients and the communities in which we work.”

The agreement will allow for enhanced customer engagement and local support for LEED.

“GBCI and Bureau Veritas will be able to offer local touch points and resources for green building teams on the ground in a way that we have never before been able to offer,” said Mahesh Ramanujam, chief operating officer, USGBC, and president, GBCI. “Connecting with our customers and deepening our engagement with them will help accelerate the adoption of green building practices and deliver its benefits to these key economies.

“We want our users to have a positive and seamless experience with LEED, no matter where they are across the globe,” added Ramanujam. “GBCI is building world-class infrastructure to support the uptake of green building around the world.”

Earlier this year, USGBC released its list of the top 10 countries for LEED outside the U.S., with Canada taking the lead, followed by China and India.

“USGBC projects significant growth in green building activity in countries like China, India and Brazil in 2014,” said Ramanujam. “Looking at the LEED project registration and certification trends of these countries and across the globe, it is critical to build up the infrastructure to support this development.”

Worldwide, more than 60,000 commercial projects are using LEED, totaling 11.2 billion gross square feet. Additionally, more than 154,000 residential units are using the LEED for Homes rating system.

The growth of LEED reflects its global adaptability as the world’s most widely used and recognized system guiding the design, construction, operations and maintenance of green buildings. LEED is a critical tool in creating structures that mitigate greenhouse gas emissions; create healthier indoor environments for workers, students and community members; and lower utility bills for building owners through reduced energy and water use.

About the Green Building Certification InstituteThe Green Building Certification Institute (GBCI) is a third-party organization that provides independent oversight of professional credentialing and project certification programs related to green building. GBCI is committed to ensuring precision in the design, development, and implementation of measurement processes for green building performance (through project certification) and green building practice (through professional credentials and certificates). Established in 2008 to administer certifications and professional designations within the framework of the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED® Green Building Rating Systems™, GBCI continues to develop new programs and offer the marketplace validation that building certifications and professional designations have met specific, rigorous criteria.
About Bureau Veritas
Bureau Veritas is a global leader in Testing, Inspection and Certification (TIC), delivering high quality services to help clients meet the growing challenges of quality, safety, environmental protection and social responsibility. They are a crucial leader in the promotion of social and environmental integrity by excelling beyond compliance with standards and regulations. They promote truly innovative buildings that are truly represent the ideals of going green and being LEED compliant.

Want to learn more about green building and LEED Certification? Check out GreenEDU.com for a full line up of courses to get you up to speed and to prepare for the LEED Exams.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Universities for Sustainability

Back to school means new books, new pens, new clothes, and new LEED certified buildings? Out with the old, in with the new (and improved)! Colleges across the country and beyond are taking new initiatives to promote energy efficiency to benefit both their students and the environment.

With the push towards sustainability picking up more and more momentum, it's no surprise that new residence halls around the country are following suit. Across the country, universities have been striving towards creating initiatives that reduce waste, incorporate renewable materials, and promote healthy lifestyles. These leaps in sustainability have also been seen in the way many new buildings, especially residence halls, are being designed. In fact, two recently built dorms, one at Pacific University and another at UW - Madison have gone so far as to achieve LEED Gold Certification. Both residence halls boast unique designs and are built with the occupants' and environment's health and well-being in mind. 

Pacific University most recently opened the doors to its Cascade Hall, which achieved LEED Gold Certification this year. This building is the sixth building on the Pacific University campus that has achieved LEED Certification. For more information regarding Pacific University's LEED successes visit www.pacificu.edu

On the UW - Madison campus, Aldo Leopold Residence Hall opened in August 2013 and just recently achieved its LEED Gold Certification. The residence hall prides itself on its solar paneled roof, green power (wind), as well as numerous other features that add to its impressive sustainability strides. For more information about UW's sustainable building designs visit http://www.news.wisc.edu/23026.

Additionally, at New York University there are many sustainability projects in effect around campus. NYU Unplugged 2014 encouraged residence halls to turn off lights and unplug devices when they were not in use. The initiative saw an energy reduction in over a dozen residence halls. NYU has also promoted initiatives to encourage recycling and composting throughout the dining halls in the hopes of reducing the carbon footprint. The benefits from these initiatives will no doubt have incredible positive future outcomes in addition to their current success. The NYU Sustainability Initiative is a relatively new task force and the work they have already accomplished is immensely impressive. 

Interested in learning more about sustainability and LEED? Visit GreenEDU.com for a full line-up of LEED Exam Prep courses. GreenEDU also offers a number of Energy Efficiency Training courses to learn more about energy audits, retrofits, and energy-saving practices!