Tuesday, September 15, 2015

OSHA Enforcement of New Confined Spaces Rule Begins This October

OSHA training will keep your employees up to date
The new regulations define attics as confined spaces.

OSHA Changes Classification of Confined Spaces

Contractors across the country are preparing to change the way they work: in just a couple of weeks, a new OSHA regulation will become enforceable. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration often reviews and updates existing laws, and on October 2nd will enforce new regulations for contractors working in confined spaces. The ruling, which expands the definition of confined spaces to include attics and crawlspaces, will ask that employers carefully document their awareness of safety hazards in order to protect workers. By requiring them to write permits every time they enter a closed space, the rule will ensure that everyone on a job site understands what is going on and is prepared to work safely and efficiently.

Under this new rule, employees must be trained on confined spaces before working in a qualifying space - and as with all OSHA regulations, violators will face steep fines. While the training is not arduous, it can mean the difference between life and death for workers who will enter attics, tunnels, or other small workplaces. Recent worker deaths in attics highlighted the unusually prominent risks of electrocutions, explosions, inhalation of toxic substances, asphyxiation, and fire in these spaces.

"This rule will save lives of construction workers,” explained Dr. David Michaels, the Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health. “Unlike most general industry worksites, construction sites are continually evolving, with the number and characteristics of confined spaces changing as work progresses. This rule emphasizes training, continuous worksite evaluation and communication requirements to further protect workers’ safety and health.” According to OSHA estimates, enforcing the regulation will prevent nearly 800 serious injuries per year - a significant number for a rule with relatively few requirements.

In order to prevent those injuries, employers must now fulfill pre-entry requirements. After a competent person inspects the space contractors will identify safety needs, test the air, remove hazards, implement controls and protections, and determine rescue procedures before putting anyone at risk. Tom Skaggs, chairman of the health committee at the Mechanical Contractors Association of America, explains that this new regulation “changes the way mechanical construction contractors approach confined space safety” - in order to protect workers, it’ll be important to think carefully and thoroughly about how to work.

Make sure you are in compliance with the new OSHA standards! 

Avoid fines and protect your employees with the OSHA Confined Space Awareness training. Worksites will also need at least one person who has taken the Competent Person training to inspect the workspace. Confined Space Permit Entry training may also be required if the confined space contains a serious health or safety hazard.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

U.S. Green Building Council Names Mahesh Ramanujam As Incoming CEO

Originally released by the U.S. Green Building Council on September 8, 2015.
USGBC Contact: Marisa Long Public Relations & Communications Director

The U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) Board of Directors announced that USGBC’s Chief Operating Officer Mahesh Ramanujam has been named incoming Chief Executive Officer, and will move into the role after Rick Fedrizzi, the visionary co-founder of USGBC and current CEO, steps down at the end of 2016.
“Mahesh has a highly impressive track record of success in both his role as USGBC’s COO and as President of Green Business Certification Inc.,” said USGBC Board Chair Marge Anderson. “He is a proven leader who has exhaustive knowledge of the organization, respect from its volunteer leadership and strong support from its team. He has extensive global experience and broad business acumen. He is the perfect choice to lead the organization into the future.”
“As a founder, I could not be happier, and as a CEO, I could not be more satisfied that I’ll be able to leave USGBC in the best hands possible,” said Fedrizzi. “Since Mahesh first joined USGBC in 2009, he has transformed every corner of the organization, focusing on high performance and putting the needs of our customers and community members first. His personal core values are deeply aligned with our mission and his comprehensive understanding of our work make him the ideal leader for this role.”
“I’m deeply honored that Rick and the Board have placed their trust in me, and I will serve the organization and our movement with a long-term vision – keeping innovation as a top priority,” said Ramanujam. “As USGBC’s CEO, I pledge to continually modernize and enhance our capabilities and performance to ensure we deliver the future that our founders envisioned.” 
Ramanujam joined USGBC in 2009 as Senior Vice President, Technology, before being named COO in September 2011. In December 2012, he was also named President of the Green Building Certification Institute (GBCI) where he broadened offerings to better serve a wider client base, leading the organization to change its name to Green Business Certification Inc. earlier this year. 
Prior to joining USGBC, Ramanujam was COO for Emergys, a business transformation consulting firm in North Carolina. As a consultant to IBM, he was part of the team that led various business transformation initiatives including the sale of IBM PC systems to Lenovo and its printer divisions to Ricoh. He also was part of the team that led business transformation at Lenovo to ensure the successful establishment of Lenovo’s global manufacturing and operating platforms.
Ramanujam is a native of Chennai, India, and holds a bachelor’s of engineering in computer sciences from Annamalai University, where he began his career in software and systems analysis and product development.

Join the green building movement - learn more about LEED and the LEED professional credentials at www.greenedu.com/leed-certification!

Thursday, September 3, 2015

HUD Awards $101 Million to Protect Children and Families from Dangerous Lead and Other Home Hazards

Funding to make more than 6,000 homes safer and healthier places to live

Originally released by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development on August 27, 2015.

WASHINGTON - In an effort to protect children and families from potentially dangerous lead-based paint and other health and safety hazards, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has awarded over $101 million to 32 city, county and state governments. The grant funding announced will reduce the number of lead-poisoned children and protect families by targeting health hazards in over 6,000 low-income homes with significant lead and/or other home health and safety hazards (see chart below). Read a summary of each of the grants announced today at the HUD's website.

Earlier this week in Baltimore, MD, HUD Secretary Juli├ín Castro announced the funding during a news conference with Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake as part of the Green & Healthy Homes Initiative Back to School event, promoting healthier housing to improve school outcomes. The City of Baltimore is one of the grantees.

HUD's Lead Hazard Control grant programs has a demonstrated history of success, filling critical needs in urban communities where no other resources exist to address substandard housing that threatens the health of the most vulnerable residents.

As HUD marks its 50th anniversary, Secretary 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.

"Every family deserves to live in a safe and healthy home where they can see their children thrive and excel," said Castro. "Communities will use these grants to help eliminate home-related hazards in neighborhoods across the country. A healthy home is vital to the American Dream."

"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, Director of HUD's Office of Lead Hazard Control and Healthy Homes. "While we've made tremendous progress reducing lead-based paint hazards in our older housing stock, far too many children 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.

HUD's Office of Lead Hazard Control and Healthy Homes 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.

The funding announced here 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 the grantees over $8.8 million in Healthy Homes supplemental funding to help communities mitigate multiple health hazards in high risk housing simultaneously, in conjunction with their lead hazard control activities.

A state-by-state breakdown of the funding announced today can be found on their website. A total of $101, 872, 990 was awarded.

Companies who can safely work with lead are always in demand, especially when new funding becomes available. Check out our courses to get certified and become eligible for these new jobs!