Wednesday, December 31, 2014

OSHA Wrap Up: December 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 Evanston, Ill., workers at Arturo's Painting and Restoration Inc., were exposed to lead paint levels up to 1.2 times greater than the permissible exposure limit. In addition to the exposure, Arturo's failed to determine the exposure levels prior to having their workers remove the lead paint with sanders and scrapers. Upon OSHA's investigation of the site, the company was cited with 17 serious safety violations. Arturo's Painting and Restoration Inc. faces a proposed fine of $46,000 for the violations.
  • In Fostoria, Ohio, three workers at All-Set Roofing and Construction Inc. were exposed to fall risks at 15 feet up to install shingles and without fall protection. The Bowling Green Company had been previously cited for fall hazards at another job site. OSHA issues repeat violations if similar violations occur within five years of the original citation. OSHA cited the Bowling Green Company with proposed penalties of over $44,000.
  • In Cleveland, Ohio, after complaints of unsafe work conditions, OSHA inspectors uncovered dangerous levels of lead and copper fumes at Republic Metals Inc. OSHA identified the company's lack of engineering controls that would have reduced the exposure levels and failure to train employees on proper techniques for dealing with exposure hazards. Additionally, the company was cited for a lack of personal protective equipment and excessive noise exposure. OSHA cited Republic Metals Inc. with proposed penalties of over $42,000.
Compliance 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 with all such OSHA standards and requirements.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

News Release: EPA Announces Annual Environmental Enforcement Results for 2014

Information originally released by the EPA on December 18, 2014: http://www2.epa.gov/enforcement/enforcement-annual-results-fiscal-year-fy-2014

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is responsible for the enforcement and regulation of laws passed by Congress. These enforcements serve wide reaching benefits for the environment, the community, and companies who follow these rules. Were the EPA not to strictly enforce consequences on those who do not comply to such regulations, companies who do comply would be at a great disadvantage. For companies that are in compliance with EPA's laws and regulations, the penalties the EPA enforces even the playing field with those that do not. More than that, the EPA's enforcements benefit the environment overall.

In 2014 alone, the EPA was able to reduce air pollutants by nearly 141 million pounds and water pollutants by approximately 337 million pounds. Additionally, they were able to regulate the clean up of about 856 million cubic yards of contaminated water/aquifers. They accomplished this through fines and penalties as well as requiring companies to invest in methods that would reduce pollution and support the clean up of polluted sites.

The EPA was responsible for charging companies with fines that not only covered the violations they committed but also for the communities who suffered as a result of said violations. When companies' violate EPA regulations, the environment is often negatively affected and thus the EPA often cites companies with fines to cover the cost of cleaning up polluted sites.
  • Polluted sites across the country are being cleaned up while EPA conserves and recovers federal funds. This year, settlements will result in more than $453.7 million in commitments from responsible parties to clean up Superfund sites, and return $57.7 million to the Superfund trust.
Overall, EPA enforcement actions required companies to invest more than $9.7 billion in actions and equipment to control pollution and clean up contaminated sites.

In 2014, EPA pursued high impact cases that drove compliance across industries including Lowe's Home Centers. They developed a corporate-wide compliance program to ensure protection of children from dangerous lead paint exposure. As well, the EPA was strict on its accountability for criminal violators that threatened the health and safety of Americans. They directed funds from said violators to communities affected by those who were not compliant with the standards of health and safety necessary.

Much of the EPA's focus was directed towards reducing pollution in many sectors of American Communities. From electric power companies to chemical plants to contaminated stormwater, the EPA required companies involved in such pursuits to develop innovative programs to reduce their carbon impact. As well as develop new ways to incorporate and promote renewable energy. Federal facilities and companies were made to take responsibility for any toxic pollution they created and fund the means of cleaning up such pollution.

The EPA has a commitment to enforcement as was demonstrated throughout 2014 and past years. The EPA will continue to pursue and correct any violations in addition to developing new ways to remedy pollution and promote renewable energy innovations. Click here to read the full press release on the EPA's success in 2014.

EPA Media Contact:
Jennifer Colaizzi
Colaizzi.jennifer@epa.gov202-564-7776

Be sure to stay compliant with the EPA's enforcements in the New Year. For a full lineup of courses to ensure the safety of your worksite and employees as well as achieving EPA standard compliance, visit GreenEdu.com.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

New Maryland Pre-1978 Lead Paint Law

Previously, the Maryland Lead Poisoning Prevention Program was required for all rental properties built prior to 1950, but was optional for properties between 1950 and 1978. However, come January 1, 2015 it will be mandatory for all properties built before 1978 to comply as well. This new lead paint law will collectively affect home owners, contractors, landlords and project managers.

Especially impacted by this new law will be property owners, who will be expected to perform and enact the following requirements:
  1. Every landlord and property manager should distribute the following three forms on or before the tenant's move in date, and keep a signed statement from the tenant acknowledging receiving these items:
    1. The Notice of Tenant Rights
    2. The EPA brochure, “Protect Your Family from Lead in Your Home
    3. A copy of the lead inspection certificate for the unit
  2. Ensure that the property is currently registered with the Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) and to pay a $30.00 per property/unit registration fee
  3. Obtain a passing Full Risk Reduction Certificate prior to a tenant moving into the property. This certificate can only be issued by a select number of inspectors, licensed for this type of inspection.  The cost for this service can range from $200-$500 depending on the property and inspector chosen for the work.

For more information regarding the new lead paint law visit http://www.mde.state.md.us/lead

Visit GreenEDU for information regarding Lead Inspector Certification requirements and available courses.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Health and Well-Being in the Office

A healthy, happy workforce is a vital component of a productive, successful business in the long-term. Despite the obvious notion of the importance of office design, it has not had a major influence on the real estate sector nor has it begun to permeate financial decision making.

Evidence of how the design of an office impacts health, well being, and productivity of its occupants can be measured by:
  • Indoor Air Quality
  • Thermal Comfort
  • Daylighting and Lighting
  • Biophilia - suggestion that we have an instinctive bond to nature
  • Noise
  • Interior Layout
  • Look and Feel
  • Active Design and Exercise
  • Amenities and Location
The concept of "green" buildings suggests the use of low carbon or energy efficient operation of the building. Though these are important to the health of occupants as well as the environment, it can be considered short-sighted to think that they are automatically considered healthier. Research has shown that there are three key areas that need to be addressed in increasing the health and well being of the occupants of the building. The first of which is to put users in control which allows occupants to have personal control over their environment increasing their productivity and desire to work. The next is understanding the importance of maximizing daylight. Daylight provides the necessary light for creating a productive environment while also reducing the use of electricity and fluorescent lighting. The last key area is the use of passive design through use of natural ventilation to promote the benefits of fresh air and adequate thermal comfort.

The framework for measuring the effectiveness of the office building is determined by three key features including physical, perceptual, and financial relationships. The financial measurements are used to determine objective aspects of the green building. The perceptual aspects are measured through self-reports from occupants. The physical aspects are measured in terms of the actual design and operation of the building itself. The relationship between these three forms of measurements are used to maximize the effectiveness of green buildings for the health and well-being of the occupants.

Green buildings are advantageous to healthy and productive occupants in terms of their good design, construction, behavior, and location. The reinterpretation of the "green" movement has been extended to include not only the environmental considerations but also health, well-being, and productivity.

To read the full report regarding the green movement for healthy buildings and healthy occupants, view Health, Wellbeing & Productivity in Offices.


To learn more about the LEED green building rating systems, attend our FREE live webinar, offered every month! Visit https://www.greenedu.com/free-intro-to-leed-accreditation-webinar-courses to learn more and register.

OSHA Wrap Up: November 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 Paris, Illinois, workers at Septimus Inc., a cornstarch processing plant, were exposed to combustible cornstarch dust in excess of permissible exposure limits as well as other hazards. Following an April 30, 2014 inspection of the facility by OSHA, the company was cited for 21 serious safety and health violations. The investigation revealed industrial vehicles in poor repair as well as electrical violations which would provide ignition sources for the dust. The citations carried with them a proposed penalty totaling $46,400 in fines by the U.S. Department of Labor's OSHA.
  • In Portage, Wisconsin, workers cleaning a chemical spill at Penda Corp, demonstrated a lack of proper training in cleanup procedures in addition to not being provided the proper personal protective equipment. The investigation was prompted following a complaint that stated the improper cleanup of diphenylmethane disocyanate, an isocyanate. Workers experienced symptoms of overexposure to the isocyanate chemical including occupational asthma as well as other lung problems, irritation of the eyes, nose, throat, and skin. The company was cited with seven serious violations and faces penalties of $49,000.
  • In Canton, Ohio, employees of TimkenSteel Corp were found to be exposed to multiple amputation and fall hazards. Following allegations from employees concerning unsafe working conditions amounting to two serious violations for failure to guard floor holes as well as missing guardrails on platforms of approximately 8 feet. Additionally, the corporation was cited for failure to guard cranes and crane trolley runways, another fall hazard. Upon a third inspection, three serious violations concerning exposure to moving machinery parts were discovered. OSHA cited 12 serious safety violations which proposed penalties of $77,000. 
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.