May 22nd, 2015

Asbestos Testing Kansas City

Since 1983, OCCU-TEC has been providing clients with Asbestos testing in Kansas City; throughout the Midwest; and nationwide. Asbestos is a known carcinogen and exposure to Asbestos-Containing Materials (ACM) must be controlled.  Federal, state and local regulations mandate how building owners and managers must handle asbestos materials in their facilities.

Asbestos services include:

  • Asbestos Air Monitoring
  • Asbestos Inspections/Surveys

    Asbestos Containing Building Materials

    Asbestos Containing Building Materials – Click to Expand

  • Asbestos Data Management
  • Project Management
  • Management Plans
  • Contract Specifications
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  • Pre-qualification and Selection of Contractors
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  • EPA Certified Trainers

OCCU-TEC’s state-of-the-art data management tools provide building managers with an easy way to manage asbestos information, track abatement projects, prepare reports and notifications and ensure full regulatory compliance in one or hundreds of buildings…..all with the click of a mouse from any location at any time.

OCCU-TEC is known throughout the industry as one of the premier environmental and safety design and planning firms. From mold remediation protocol design and asbestos abatement planning to waste management and site assessment plans and much more, OCCU-TEC value engineers each project.

Call us today to receive a professional estimate for your project.   816-994-3425


January 15th, 2015

OSHA is reminding covered employers to post OSHA’s Form 300A, which summarizes the total number of job-related injuries and illnesses that occurred during 2014 and were logged on OSHA’s Form 300, the log of work-related injuries and illnesses. The summary must be posted between Feb. 1 and April 30, 2015, and should be displayed in a common area where notices to employees are usually posted.

Employers with 10 or fewer employees and employers in specific low-hazard industries are normally exempt from federal OSHA injury and illness recordkeeping and posting requirements. Due to changes in OSHA’s recordkeeping requirements that went into effect Jan. 1, 2015, certain previously exempt industries are now covered. Lists of both exempt and newly covered industries are available on OSHA’s website. Visit the Updates to OSHA’s Recordkeeping Rule Web page for more information

November 18th, 2014

Beginning January 1, 2015, there will be a change to what covered employers are required to report to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. Employers will now be required to report all work-related fatalities within 8 hours and all in-patient hospitalizations, amputations, and losses of an eye within 24 hours of finding about the incident.

Previously, employers were required to report all workplace fatalities and when three or more workers were hospitalized in the same incident.

The updated reporting requirements are not simply paperwork but have a life-saving purpose: they will enable employers and workers to prevent future injuries by identifying and eliminating the most serious workplace hazards.

Employers have three options for reporting these severe incidents to OSHA. They can call their nearest area office during normal business hours, call the 24-hour OSHA hotline at 1-800-321-OSHA (1-800-321-6742), or they can report online at For more information and resources, including a new YouTube video, visit OSHA’s Web page on the updated reporting requirements.

Starting January 1, 2015:

All employers* must report:

  • All work-related fatalities within 8 hours

Within 24 hours, all work-related:

  • Inpatient hospitalizations
  • Amputations
  • Losses of an eye

How to Report Incident

*Employers under Federal OSHA’s jurisdiction must begin reporting by January 1. Establishments in a state with a State run OSHA program should contact their state plan for the implementation date.

May 14th, 2014

– Courtesy Steel Tank Institute/Steel Plate Fabricators Assn

Over the past ten years, there has been a proliferation of documents emphasizing the importance of fuel storage system maintenance–especially keeping water out of your tanks.

Why it’s important

There are a number of reasons why keeping water out of storage tank systems is important. One of the key factors is simple: fuel degrades in the presence of water, and today’s newer fuels are more likely to absorb water than fuels in the past.

Water also increases the likelihood of corrosion of components, both those suspended in the fuel and those in the vapor space at the top of the tank, regardless of tank material.

Some of the changes in fuels today are a result of federal clean air laws. In an effort to reduce harmful emissions from vehicles, the US government now requires cleaner fuels and higher percentages of biofuels in vehicles. For example, reducing the amount of sulfur in diesel fuels makes them burn cleaner.

Another impetus for development of newer fuels results from changes made to vehicle engines to improve gas mileage, such as continually evolving fuel injection systems that clog more easily and
therefore require cleaner fuels.

Newer fuels demand new detection methods
Since STI/SPFA published Keeping Water Out of Your Storage Tank System ten years ago, new challenges to keeping fuel systems water-free have evolved. Because today’s biofuels hold more water in suspension, traditional detection methods, such as use of water pastes and electronic monitors, aren’t always effective.

To address the difficulties of detecting water in biofuels, the National Workgroup on Leak Detection Evaluation (NWGLDE) is currently working on new protocols for leak detection methods, to ensure that leak detection equipment functions as well with these new fuels as it does with gasoline and diesel. NWGLDE is an independent work group comprised of 11 members from both state and federal UST regulatory programs. NWGLDE’s mission is to review leak detection systems to verify that they meet EPA or other regulatory requirements.

April 10th, 2014

By now, most of us have been impacted in one way or another by “distracted driving”. A commonly accepted definition of “distracted” is “any activity that could divert a person’s attention away from the primary task of driving.” All distractions endanger not only the driver and passengers, but also bystanders.

Some of the typical distractions encountered are:

  • Using a cell phone
  • Texting
  • Eating and drinking
  • Talking to passengers
  • Grooming
  • Reading, including maps
  • Using a navigation system
  • Watching a video
  • Adjusting a radio, CD player, or MP3 player

Because text messaging requires visual, manual, and cognitive attention from the driver, it is by far the most alarming distraction. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the top three distractions are:

  • Talking with other passengers
  • Changing radio stations or looking for CDs or tapes
  • Making an outgoing or taking an incoming cell phone call

The statistics are sobering. It is estimated that anywhere from 4,000 to 8,000 crashes related to distracted driving occur daily in the United States. Here are some NHSTA data to consider:

  • The number of people killed in distraction-affected crashes decreased slightly from 3,360 in 2011 to 3,328 in 2012. An estimated 421,000 people were injured in motor vehicle crashes involving a distracted driver, This was a nine percent increase from the estimated 387,000 people injured in 2011.
  • 10% of all drivers under the age of 20 involved in fatal crashes were reported as distracted at the time of the crash. This age group has the largest proportion of drivers who were distracted.
  • Drivers in their 20s make up 27 percent of the distracted drivers in fatal crashes. (NHTSA)
  • Engaging in visual-manual subtasks (such as reaching for a phone, dialing and texting) associated with the use of hand-held phones and other portable devices increased the risk of getting into a crash by three times. (VTTI)
  • Five seconds is the average time your eyes are off the road while texting. When traveling at 55mph, that’s enough time to cover the length of a football field blindfolded. (2009, VTTI)
  • Headset cell phone use is not substantially safer than hand-held use. (VTTI)
  • A quarter of teens respond to a text message once or more every time they drive. 20 percent of teens and 10 percent of parents admit that they have extended, multi-message text conversations while driving. (UMTRI)

Here a few simple tips from AAA to help keep yourself, your family members, and others on the road safe:

  • Plan ahead and make vehicle adjustments, including the radio, prior to putting the vehicle in gear.
  • Read maps or program your trip into your GPS or mobile device before you get on the road.
  • Avoid the temptation of using a cell phone while driving; pull over to a safe place to talk on the phone, text, or email.
  • Stop to eat or drink; do not be tempted to eat and drink while driving.
  • Pull over to take care of children.
  • Do not drive with pets unsecured in your vehicle; pets can be a major distraction to drivers in the vehicle.
  • And most of all, pay attention and stay focused on the task at hand … driving.

The best way to end distracted driving is to educate all Americans about the danger it poses. Please visit the NHSTA/ sites, such as FAQ and sample research reports, for more information.

December 18th, 2013

OSHA’s updated Hazard Communication Standard provides a common and coherent approach to classifying chemicals and communicating hazard information on labels and safety data sheets. The first deadline in the implementation phase is Dec. 1, 2013, the date by which employers must train workers on the new label elements and safety data sheet. Find information and resources, including QuickCards, a training fact sheet (PDF*), a list of frequently asked questions and a brief (PDF*) on labels and pictograms on OSHA’s Hazard Communications page

June 26th, 2013

During a plenary session at the American Society of Safety Engineers (ASSE) Safety 2013 conference, OSHA Administrator Dr. David Michaels discussed his second term leading the agency and his hopes for the proposed I2P2 program.

In a June 25 plenary session at Safety 2013 in Las Vegas, OSHA Administrator Dr. David Michaels once again called the proposed Injury and Illness Prevention Program (I2P2) his “highest priority” but acknowledged that some consider the proposal controversial.

“I know there are people who don’t trust OSHA, who think we’re part of this regulatory state and that regulations are the reason for the [financial] crash in 2008,” Michaels said. “There are people who believe we regulate too much.”

But Michaels stressed that such a standard, which is designed to compel employers to find and fix hazards, could have wide-reaching ramifications in the occupational safety and health arena without creating economic woes for employers. During his presentation, he summed up the program by citing the following the sentence: “I2P2 would require employers to have an ongoing, investigative, preventative process in place instead of being reactive and addressing problems after an accident occurs.”
Michaels was quick to point out he did not write that sentence – in fact, the line was published in the Nation’s Restaurant News March 5 article, “Regulation Nation,” and was penned by an attorney opposing the I2P2 proposal.

“Would I want my son to work at a place with a preventative process or a reactive one?” Michaels asked. “If this is a burden we’re talking about, this is a burden we want to have. We’re saying to employers: We have to think about safety.”

When pressed for a timeline for I2P2’s possible progress, Michaels was unable to offer concrete dates and said he was “hesitant to predict anything.” He did, however, reiterate that I2P2 remained his priority, and he urged safety stakeholders to add their support to the proposal by talking to Congress, adding comments to OSHA’s docket and offering public support.
“I hope you’re with us,” he said.

Michaels also addressed the fact that he will continue to lead OSHA throughout President Obama’s second term, saying he was “very pleased to be able to stay.”

“It’s always difficult during a transition,” he said. “We’re able to continue to move in the same direction. As we learn more, we’re slightly refocusing, but essentially our direction will remain the same for the next three and a half years.”

During a question-and-answer session following his prepared marks, Michaels addressed the concern that small employers may have difficulty complying with OSHA requirements like I2P2. Michaels was steadfast that safety is nonnegotiable, no matter the employer’s size – comments that were met with a smattering of audience applause.

“If you have a small employer with high hazards, they’ll need a safety and health professional. That’s just the cost of doing business,” Michaels said. “Small employers will be able to get information from the Web, from trade associations [and elsewhere] … they shouldn’t be running an operation that isn’t safe. If they can’t afford to do that, they should think about whether they can afford to be doing this business.”

February 19th, 2013

On February 4, 2013, Dr. David Michaels, Assistant Secretary for Occupational Safety and Health spoke at an OSHA Employees All-Hands Meeting where he recognized some of the agency’s successes over the past several years, and discussed its future directions for 2013. This past December marked Michaels’ third anniversary of becoming Assistant Secretary of OSHA.

The significant accomplishments Michaels highlighted were:

  • Launching the new Severe Violator Enforcement Program to target the worst of the worst violators.
  • Issuing a record number of significant and egregious enforcement cases — including the largest fine in OSHA history.
  • Issuing three major standards — one of which was an important new rule aligning OSHA’s Hazard Communication standard with the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals (GHS).
  • Playing an influential role in protecting clean up and recovery workers in national disasters.
  • Conducting unprecedented outreach and education to vulnerable workers — including Latinos, members of the Asian American Pacific Islander community, and others with limited English proficiency.
  • Conducting a vigorous compliance assistance program to help employers and workers — including two national outreach campaigns.
  • Approving hundreds of new Voluntary Protection Program sites and enhanced the integrity of the program.
  • Strengthening protection of whistleblowers.
  • Launching several new National, Regional and Local Emphasis inspection programs.

In addition, Michaels stated that last year, OSHA removed 685,000 workers from job hazards. It also conducted nearly 41,000 federal OSHA inspections and another 51,000 with its state plan partners.

Although Michaels expressed his gratitude for the solid foundation that Secretary of Labor, Hilda Solis put in place to protect workers, with the support of the Deputy Secretary at the Department of Labor, Seth Harris, who is now Acting Secretary, Michaels’ acknowledges that there is much more work to be done.

The number one priority that Michaels identified for the future that he believes is critical to driving injury, illness, and fatality rates down is the injury and illness prevention program initiative.

“One of my main objectives is to educate our country’s employers about moving beyond reactive compliance to embrace a culture of safety. Many workplaces have already adopted injury and illness prevention programs, where employers develop a process to find and fix workplace hazards before workers are hurt,” said Michaels. “Employers in our terrific VPP and SHARP recognition programs recognize that higher profits are the welcome byproducts of safety management. These employers experience dramatic decreases in workplace injuries, accompanied by a transformed workplace culture that leads to higher productivity and quality, reduced turnover, reduced costs, and greater employee satisfaction. Now it’s time to take this message from the best to the rest.”

Other initiatives include continuing to:

  • Address the problem of systems that undermine a workplace culture of safety. These include incentive programs based on injury rates or reports that can discourage workers from reporting injuries and programs that punish workers for reporting injuries.
  • Provide swift assistance and direct resources to those most in need of our help. As tornados tore through the middle of the country, historic floods plagued North Dakota, as oil spilled into the Yellowstone River, OSHA responded with boots on the ground to bring life-saving guidance to responders and cleanup crews. It drew lessons from these hardships, devising original and effective strategies to provide swift assistance and direct resources to those most in need of the agency’s help.
  • Protect vulnerable and hard-to-reach workers . OSHA is continuing to translate its publications and webpages into Spanish and other languages. And, it plans to re-launch the Campaign to Prevent Fatal Falls in Construction this spring-with signs on buses and billboards, new training guides, and more.
  • Strengthen the whistleblower program. As the number of whistleblower statutes under its jurisdiction continues to expand, OSHA will continue to strengthen its whistleblower protection program
  • Address the alarmingly high rate of worker injuries and illnesses in hospitals and health care. OSHA is developing guidance products.
  • Work closely with industries like the oil and gas sector to protect workers. Due to the success of the safety stand down in Oklahoma, additional events have been planned in Texas, Montana, and North Dakota.
  • Develop new ways to approach dangerously outdated chemical standards. The GAO recently reported, the current complexity of the rulemaking process makes it prohibitively difficult to issue new standards in a reasonable amount of time. One challenge is to develop news ways to approach the issue of Permissible Exposure Limits, both from the enforcement and standard setting perspectives.
  • Protect temporary and contingent workers. OSHA is working with Wage and Hour — its sister agency — on protecting these workers. It has begun reaching out to temporary workers through day labor and construction groups, and as the agency moves forward it plans to amplify its efforts to ensure that temporary workers are getting the training and information they need to be safe at work.
December 12th, 2012

Most companies know how tough it can be to develop, deliver and maintain training programs. They know training is a critical element of any company’s operations because it allows the company to maintain safety standards, implement new technologies and educate new employees. The challenge is how to provide cost-effective training when the priority is managing day-to-day operations.

Companies face many issues such as identifying specific training needs, developing and delivering training programs that address those needs, and measuring their effectiveness. Additionally, companies need the right policies and procedures to sustain the benefits of training and ensure consistent operations.

Workforce performance professionals leverage their industry-wide expertise to develop customized methods and processes to help companies manage protocol, increase operational efficiency and improve safety. By outsourcing these services, companies can achieve higher productivity and success, while improving their bottom line, because it frees them and their employees to focus on what they do best -– their jobs.

And they can outsource affordably. Smaller companies can get more robust training support for a fraction of the cost, while larger companies can get help with unique projects.

According to the Outsourcing Institute, some of the top reasons for outsourcing are to:

  • Reduce and control operating costs
  • Improve company focus
  • Gain access to world-class capabilities
  • Free internal resources for other purposes
  • Supplement internal resources
  • Accelerate reengineering benefits

By outsourcing training, companies eliminate the challenges of managing this function internally. Those challenges include:

  • Expertise. Employees may be subject matter experts, but they are not well-equipped to design and deliver effective training geared to adult learning.
  • Time. Employees must focus on their jobs and are not always able to dedicate time to create or manage well-designed training programs.
  • Performance. Employees don’t always have the opportunity to develop their skills and may not be qualified to manage training programs.

All three can impact the bottom line by increasing operational expenses. In many cases, it is cost prohibitive to create an internal training department that can handle all of a company’s training needs and it would not be cost-effective to employ certain learning specialists full-time.

Outsourcing often is the most cost-effective way to address training. Whether a company needs a comprehensive training program or a one-time project, workforce performance professionals offer the most up-to-date solutions.

The best training programs are designed to meet the specific needs of the organization and, more specifically, the intended audience. They begin with a thorough needs assessment that identifies issues and sets goals, providing the framework for a plan. The design, development, management and delivery of a successful program are time- and resource-intensive, which is why in-house training departments are not always feasible or cost-effective.

Professionals with expertise in human performance and adult learning are best suited to create and manage training programs. They consider factors such as attention span, differences in learning styles and generational knowledge gaps before designing training modules to teach a variety of skills. And they teach in ways that are targeted to the learner, including traditional classrooms, online, simulators and on the job.

Workforce development specialists have the tools to assess an employee’s foundational knowledge and retention of material, and to determine if they attained the skills necessary to perform a specific job. They have the expertise to look across an industry and identify key factors to deliver the best training. They provide accountability by establishing specific goals and metrics for a program, and then they monitor for success.

Outsourcing training and procedures and policy creation makes economic sense. Workforce performance professionals have the subject matter expertise and experience in training, organizational psychology, professional development, adult learning, instructional systems design and more. They offer objective analyses of training and procedure needs and provide customized solutions that allow companies to achieve maximum productivity and safety, while saving time and money.

October 16th, 2012

Courtesy of Summit, a Liberty Mutual Company

Returning injured employees to work has become more and more important in controlling claims costs. However, it is easy to think that you don’t need a formal return-to-work program—until it’s too late.

Dollars and sense

No matter how safe a business strives to be, accidents can still happen. The National Safety Council reports that a disabling injury occurs every 1 second in the U.S. (more than 63,000 every day), and the Social Security Administration predicts that 1 out of 4 workers entering the workforce today will acquire some type of disability before they retire.

The current economic climate and its subsequent effect on employment have called attention to the importance of doing what it takes to get employees back to work as quickly as possible. Research consistently shows that injured employees recover faster, are more satisfied with their care, return to their full-duty positions sooner, and are released from medical care earlier if they work for companies that offer transitional duty. Effective return-to-work programs can also cut workers’ compensation premium costs, so you have some solid reasons to implement your own program.

nullComp claims cost more now than ever before. The National Safety Council reports that a single work-related disabling injury costs an average of $48,000. The National Council on Compensation Insurance (NCCI) estimates that the medical costs are currently about 60 percent of the overall cost of a lost-time claim—and climbing. As an employer, you cannot control the high medical and pharmaceutical costs driving this hike, but you can affect the other cost—indemnity—which is the cost of paying an employee (who may be well enough to work at a modified or alternate job) to stay at home. A strong return-to-work program allows you to control this part of your comp dollars—and could impact the medical portion as well.

It may seem counterintuitive to pay injured employees their salary for modified or alternate work (especially because this type of work can carry a perception of decreased productivity), but the alternative is to let them use their workers’ comp benefits to earn a nearly full salary—for zero productivity. More, the American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine (ACOEM), points out that the odds of an injured employee ever returning to work drop by 50 percent at the twelfth week of disability. A claim lasting that long could affect your workers’ compensation premium for several years.

Increased protection from litigation is another significant benefit for offering medically appropriate alternate work. Offering a job puts you in a much stronger position because it’s tough to argue that an employee who rejected a reasonable offer to return to work should expect to receive long-term work comp benefits. Without a return-to-work job offer, the odds of having a judge remove an employee from workers’ comp benefits drops significantly. In a nutshell, employers who routinely make good faith job offers have stronger results in court.

A 2010 study by the Workers Compensation Research Institute found that workers are more likely to seek legal help when they feel threatened. Since return-to-work programs offer assurance to employees that their jobs are available, they are a huge plus. They also help combat fraud and provide timely, positive communication. According to the California Workers’ Compensation Institute, calling injured employees within a week after an accident to talk about their value to the company reduces the chance of a lawsuit by 50 percent. Those are odds worth cultivating.

Upcoming mod changes

NCCI uses a complex formula that spreads the cost of loss through members of an industry likely to experience similar workers’ compensation injuries. For fairness, they apply the formula to each company’s actual payroll and loss data over the prior three-year period to create an experience modification factor (mod). A 1.00 mod means you had the expected number of accidents, and you pay the average rate. You could pay less if your mod is lower than 1.00. Companies with a higher loss history (resulting in a higher mod) pay more in premium. And since the cost of an accident is less predictable than the frequency, NCCI has long given greater weight (and penalty) to companies that suffer multiple accidents versus those who might have one large claim. However, a significant change to this process—the first in 25 years—is on the horizon.

nullThe anticipated change in NCCI’s mod calculation—if approved—is proposed to begin rolling out in 2013. It is a gradual, three-year increase intended to compensate for the jump in overall claim expenses in the past years. The new formula will impact claims differently so that a company with several small losses actually receives a higher mod than a company with a single, larger loss.

The goal that employers will want to shoot for is safe workplaces and a mod of 1.00 or lower. And one significant way to get there is to implement a solid return-to-work program now—before an accident happens.

The time is now

The short story is that it’s worth the effort to find light-duty positions for injured workers while they recover. Having a return-to-work program gives you a tool to manage your workers’ comp costs, and it’s the one variable you can control in this ever-changing economy. The small up-front costs beat the potential landslide of long-term claim-related expenses.