Blog

February 10th, 2016

mold growing outside on firewoodMolds come in many colors; both white and black molds are shown here.

Molds are part of the natural environment. Outdoors, molds play a part in nature by breaking down dead organic matter such as fallen leaves and dead trees, but indoors, mold growth should be avoided. Molds reproduce by means of tiny spores; the spores are invisible to the naked eye and float through outdoor and indoor air. Mold may begin growing indoors when mold spores land on surfaces that are wet. There are many types of mold, and none of them will grow without water or moisture.

 

Can mold cause health problems?

Molds are usually not a problem indoors, unless mold spores land on a wet or damp spot and begin growing. Molds have the potential to cause health problems. Molds produce allergens (substances that can cause allergic reactions), irritants, and in some cases, potentially toxic substances (mycotoxins). Inhaling or touching mold or mold spores may cause allergic reactions in sensitive individuals. Allergic responses include hay fever-type symptoms, such as sneezing, runny nose, red eyes, and skin rash (dermatitis).

Allergic reactions to mold are common. They can be immediate or delayed. Molds can also cause asthma attacks in people with asthma who are allergic to mold. In addition, mold exposure can irritate the eyes, skin, nose, throat, and lungs of both mold-allergic and non-allergic people. Symptoms other than the allergic and irritant types are not commonly reported as a result of inhaling mold. Research on mold and health effects is ongoing.

This [guidance] provides a brief overview; it does not describe all potential health effects related to mold exposure. For more detailed information consult a health professional. You may also wish to consult your state or local health department.

  • The key to mold control is moisture control.
  • If mold is a problem in your home, you should clean up the mold promptly and fix the water problem.
  • It is important to dry water-damaged areas and items within 24-48 hours to prevent mold growth.
February 9th, 2016

Magnified mold spores
Molds gradually destroy the things they grow on. You can prevent damage to your home and furnishings, save money, and avoid potential health problems by controlling moisture and eliminating mold growth

It is impossible to get rid of all mold and mold spores indoors; some mold spores will be found floating through the air and in house dust. The mold spores will not grow if moisture is not present. Indoor mold growth can and should be prevented or controlled by controlling moisture indoors. If there is mold growth in your home, you must clean up the mold and fix the water problem. If you clean up the mold, but don’t fix the water problem, then, most likely, the mold problem will come back.

February 3rd, 2016

Employers must post injury and illness summaries now through April

OSHA reminds employers of their obligation to post a copy of OSHA’s Form 300A, which summarizes job-related injuries and illnesses logged during 2015. The summary must be displayed in a common area where notices to employees are usually posted each year between Feb. 1 and April 30.

Businesses with 10 or fewer employees and those in certain low-hazard industries are exempt from OSHA recordkeeping and posting requirements. As of 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 OSHA’s Recordkeeping Rule webpage for more information on recordkeeping requirements.

Under OSHA’s recordkeeping regulation, certain covered employers are required to prepare and maintain records of serious occupational injuries and illnesses using the OSHA 300 Log. This information is important for employers, workers and OSHA in evaluating the safety of a workplace, understanding industry hazards, and implementing worker protections to reduce and eliminate hazards.

However, there are two classes of employers that are partially exempt from routinely keeping injury and illness records.  First, employers with ten or fewer employees at all times during the previous calendar year are exempt from routinely keeping OSHA injury and illness records.  OSHA’s revised recordkeeping regulation maintains this exemption.

Second, establishments in certain low-hazard industries are also partially exempt from routinely keeping OSHA injury and illness records. Due to changes in OSHA’s recordkeeping requirements that went into effect Jan. 1, 2015, certain previously exempt industries are now covered. See the lists of both exempt and newly covered industries for details.

The previous list of partially exempt industries was based on the old Standard Industrial Classification (SIC) system and injury and illness data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) from 1996, 1997, and 1998. The new list of partially exempt industries in the updated rule (link) is based on theNorth American Industry Classification System (NAICS) and injury and illness data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) from 2007, 2008, and 2009.

January 5th, 2016

Initiative to Address Environmental and Worker Safety Violations

Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division Will Work with the Department of Labor and U.S. Attorneys for Broader Look at Environmental and Workplace Safety Crimes

In an effort to prevent and deter crimes that put the lives and the health of workers at risk, the Departments of Justice and Labor announced today a plan to Trialmore effectively prosecute such crimes.  Under the new plan, the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division and the U.S. Attorneys’ Offices will work with the Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) and Wage and Hour Division (WHD) to investigate and prosecute worker endangerment violations.

“On an average day in America, 13 workers die on the job, thousands are injured and 150 succumb to diseases they obtained from exposure to carcinogens and other toxic and hazardous substances while they worked,” said Deputy Attorney General Sally Quillian Yates.  “Given the troubling statistics on workplace deaths and injuries, the Department of Justice is redoubling its efforts to hold accountable those who unlawfully jeopardize workers’ health and safety.”

“Safety and security in the workplace are a shared commitment.  Workplace injuries and illnesses cause an enormous amount of physical, financial and emotional hardship for workers and their families and underscore the urgent need for employers to provide a safe workplace for their employees,” said Department of Labor Deputy Secretary Chris Lu.  “Today’s announcement demonstrates a renewed commitment by both the Department of Labor and the Department of Justice to utilize criminal prosecution as an enforcement tool to protect the health and safety of workers.”

Starting last year, the Departments of Justice and Labor began meetings to explore a joint effort to increase the frequency and effectiveness of criminal prosecutions of worker endangerment violations.  This culminated in a decision to consolidate the authorities to pursue worker safety statutes within the Department of Justice’s Environment and Natural Resource Division’s Environmental Crimes Section.  In a memo sent today to all 93 U.S. Attorneys across the country, Deputy Attorney General Yates urged federal prosecutors to work with the Environmental Crimes Section in pursuing worker endangerment violations.  The worker safety statutes generally provide for only misdemeanor penalties.  However, prosecutors have now been encouraged to consider utilizing Title 18 and environmental offenses, which often occur in conjunction with worker safety crimes, to enhance penalties and increase deterrence.  Statutes included in this plan are the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSH Act), the Migrant and Seasonal Agricultural Worker
Protection Act (MSPA) and the Mine Safety and Health Act (MINE Act).

“We have seen that employers who are willing to cut corners on worker safety laws to maximize production and profit, will also turn a blind eye to environmental laws,” said Assistant Attorney General John C. Cruden for the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division.  “Working with our partners in the Department of Labor and law enforcement, we will remove the profit from these crimes by vigorously prosecuting employers who break safety and environmental laws at the expense of American workers.”witness_prosecution_04

“Every worker has the right to come home safely.  While most employers try to do the right thing, we know that strong sanctions are the best tool to ensure that low road employers comply with the law and protect workers lives,” said Assistant Secretary for Occupational Safety and Health Dr. David Michaels.  “More frequent and effective prosecution of these crimes will send a strong message to those employers who fail to provide a safe workplace for their employees.  We look forward to working with the Environment and Natural Resources Division to enforce these life-saving rules when employers violate workplace safety, workers’ health and environmental regulations.”

In addition to prosecuting environmental crimes, the Environment and Natural Resources Division has also been strengthening its efforts to pursue civil cases that involve worker safety violations under statutes such as the Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act, Resource Conservation and Recovery Act and the Toxic Substances Control Act.  Violations of a number of provisions under these statutes can have a direct impact on workers tasked with handling dangerous chemicals and other materials, cleaning up spills and responding to hazardous releases.

For more information, visit: www.justice.gov/enrd/worker-endangerment/

December 21st, 2015

lighten bag

Between all the present wrapping, route planning, and checking the Naughty and Nice lists, Kris Kringle also has to set aside time to go over a safety check list to avoid personal injury. When your job involves a lot of walking on snowy rooftops and night flying, it’s always a good idea to take extra precautions.

  • Perform a pre-flight safety check on sleigh
  • Ensure footwear has proper traction and can keep feet dry on rooftops
  • Always check for a fire before descending the chimney
  • No distracted flying, no texting or calls
  • Avoid warm milk to stay alert
  • Wear proper eye protection to avoid snow blindness
  • Keep hands and feet dry and warm to avoid frostbite
  • Charge GPS battery before leaving the North Pole
  • Pack dog treats to distract disgruntled pets
  • No drinking and flying (especially eggnog)
  • Polish Rudolph’s nose for maximum illumination
  • If rooftop appears icy or otherwise hazardous, seek alternate landing area
  • Ensure hat fits well to avoid obstructed vision
  • Stay hydrated
  • Check in with Mrs. Claus and/or elves to update them on progress
  • Keep both hands on the reins
  • Do not leave gifts in doorways or stairwells to avoid slips, trips and falls.
  • Do not allow reindeer to graze on poinsettias, holly, mistletoe, etc. as they can be poisonous to animals
  • Keep all warm beverages in a tightly sealed thermos to avoid spills/burns
  • In the event of a snow storm, land sleigh somewhere safe and wait until the weather clears
  • Upon take –off and landing, ensure runway is clear of elves, reindeer, and anthropomorphic snowmen

Tell the kids not to fret over Santa’s safety. This year, he’s well-prepared to take to the skies and deliver gifts to all the good little boys and girls around the world.

October 29th, 2015

The US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, NOAA refuses release of climate change data.  The analysis of that data, published in Science in June1, analyzed NOAA’s temperature records and found that global warming has continued apace in the early twenty-first century. The study contradicts previous findings — often cited by global-warming sceptics — suggesting that warming has slowed since the 1990s.

warming_gwaThe NOAA study, led by Thomas Karl, director of the National Centers for Environmental Information in Asheville, North Carolina, corrected biases in the agency’s global temperature record.

Karl and his colleagues adjusted for known biases in ocean temperature readings from ships and buoys, while also adding measurements from other land-based monitoring stations — expanding the range of those stations into the Arctic. The revised record showed temperatures rising consistently.

Read more here.

October 29th, 2015

The top 10 safety violations for 2015  were announced by Patrick Kapust, deputy director of OSHA’s Directorate of Enforcement Programs, presented the “Top 10” on the Expo floor.  safety_prop_shaft

“In injury prevention, we go where the data tell us to go,” said National Safety Council President and CEO Deborah A.P. Hersman. “The OSHA ‘Top 10’ list is a roadmap that identifies the hazards you want to avoid on the journey to safety excellence.”

The “Top 10” for FY 2015 are:

  • Fall Protection (1926.501) – 6,721
  • Hazard Communication (1910.1200) – 5,192
  • Scaffolding (1926.451) – 4,295
  • Respiratory Protection (1910.134) – 3,305
  • Lockout/Tagout (1910.147) – 3,002
  • Powered Industrial Trucks (1910.178) – 2,760
  • Ladders (1926.1053) – 2,489
  • Electrical – Wiring Methods (1910.305) – 2,404
  • Machine Guarding (1910.212) – 2,295
  • Electrical – General Requirements (1910.303) – 1,973

The resolution of these safety issues should be priority at every workplace in the U.S.  These are the items that cause the majority of the deaths and injuries and these same topics are those which OSHA Compliance Officers look for and find most often.

For additional information on safety procedures, safety manuals, and training contact us here.

September 29th, 2015

Maintaining diesel fuel quality, preventing diesel fuel contamination and assuring cleanliness has never been easy. To give you an idea of how long the industry has been dealing with this issue, a Caterpillar Operators Manual published 90 years ago stated “dirt and water causes 90 percent of all the problems with diesel fuel systems.”

Diesel contam.In 2006, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency mandated the shift from low sulfur to ultra low sulfur diesel (ULSD), reducing sulfur in the fuel from 500 parts per million (ppm) to 15 ppm.  After the transition to ULSD people started complaining about higher than normal corrosion in diesel fuel storage tanks, fuel dispensing pumps and related piping configurations.

One of the concerns with ULSD fuel was lack of lubricity. The cheapest way to remove sulfur during refining involves hydrotreating, a process that removes sulfur and cetane by treating it with hydrogen. Unfortunately, hydrogen is highly reactive and also reduces the lubricity, or lubrication properties, of the end-product.

Sulfur serves as a lubricating medium and the reduction of that sulfur (from 500 ppm to 15 ppm) causes a reduction in lubricity.  After numerous complaints, refiners started adding lubricity additives to the process to compensate. Many people who service equipment still complain of evidence of poor lubricity, especially in older engines

Diesel is a perishable commodity

Even if everything else is managed correctly, when you store diesel over time, chemical reactions can compromise the fuel’s quality and cleanliness. There are two main types of chemical reactions. One is oxidation, which occurs when the fuel is exposed to oxygen or oxygen-bearing matter. The second reaction is hydrolysis, which occurs when the fuel is exposed to water.

Both reactions produce chain reactions within the fuel, resulting in a fuel that appears darker in color and more translucent. Contaminates produced under these conditions include varnishes, gums and sludge that separate out of the fuel and settle.

Most all diesel fuel, including ULSD, has a shelf life from three to six months. This can be extended by adding stabilizers, restricting water intake through proper storage, filtration and restricting heat.  But diesel is far more susceptible to water solubility issues than gasoline.

Water + diesel = microbes and sludge

The presence of water in diesel fuel also adds to the problem of microbial growth.  Fungus, mold and other types of bacteria can flourish and use diesel fuel as a food source. The residue and resulting bonding from this bacteria damages fuel quality, clogs filters and can lead to equipment failure.

Diesel sludgeDiesel fuel will always contain a certain level of water content. The objective is to keep this water content within suitable limits, which is well below the saturation point. Since some water is inevitable, one solution is a routine treatment of fuel storage tanks with a biocide treatment program to kill tank bacteria microbes.

Filter to ISO fuel cleanliness specs

Note, however that this fuel may pass through three or more storage tanks where contamination can occur before it reaches your equipment. Because of this scenario, it is absolutely critical that the equipment owner address fuel filtration at the inlet and outlet of any storage tank within their operation. The goal for fuel cleanliness entering and exiting a bulk fuel tank (stationary or mobile) should meet ISO Code 4406 for contamination.

With proper filtration, this spec can be achieved. The recommended ISO values for Code 4406 are 18/16/13. For example: An ISO cleanliness code of 18/16/13 refers to the following: 18 = 4 micron particles, 16 = 6 micron particles, and 13 = 14 micron particles. Adding filtration at the inlet and outlet points just makes sense. It directly impacts fleet reliability and repair costs.

New rules will make fuel quality even more important.

On July 13, 2015, federal regulators formally published their Phase 2 GHG (Green House Gas) Emissions Reduction Proposal that will tighten greenhouse-gas emissions for trucks, improve their fuel economy and regulate trailer efficiency for the first time.

The tougher standards for medium and heavy-duty trucks would not be phased in until 2021 through 2027, but unless there is a drastic re-design of the diesel engine and its fuel injection system, clean fuel will become even more important in trucks than it is today.

Via Equipment World

Learn More about OCCU-TEC Fuel Cababilities

 

September 24th, 2015

EPA Proposes Rules to Improve Hazardous Waste Management and Better Protect our Waterways
New Rules Also Reduce Regulatory Burden on Businesses

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is proposing two new hazardous waste rules to strengthen environmental protection while reducing regulatory burden on businesses. One of the proposed rules will protect waterways, including drinking and surface water, by preventing the flushing of hazardous waste pharmaceuticals and simplify the requirements for healthcare workers. The other rule will provide greater flexibility to industry while requiring new safeguards to protect the public from mismanagement of hazardous waste.

“These rules provide businesses with certainty and the flexibility they need to successfully operate in today’s marketplace,” said Mathy Stanislaus, assistant administrator of EPA’s Office of Solid Waste and Emergency Response. “The proposals will improve the safety and health of our communities by providing clear, flexible, and protective hazardous waste management standards.”

The proposed hazardous waste pharmaceuticals rule will make our drinking and surface water safer and healthier by reducing the amount of pharmaceuticals entering our waterways. EPA’s proposal is projected to prevent the flushing of more than 6,400 tons of hazardous waste pharmaceuticals annually by banning healthcare facilities from flushing hazardous waste pharmaceuticals down the sink and toilet.

The proposed rule will reduce the burden on healthcare workers and pharmacists working in healthcare facilities by creating a specific set of regulations for these facilities, including hospitals, clinics, and retail stores with pharmacies and reverse distributors that generate hazardous waste.

EPA’s proposed generator rule will enhance the safety of facilities, employees, and the general public by improving labeling of hazardous waste and emergency planning and preparedness. The proposal will also reduce burden by providing greater flexibility in how facilities and employees manage their hazardous waste and make the regulations easier to understand.

EPA solicited public comment on improving hazardous waste management from states, healthcare facilities, retailers, facilities generating hazardous waste, and other key stakeholders. Both proposals directly address the challenges raised by these stakeholders in implementing and complying with hazardous waste regulations.

The Agency will accept public comments on the proposal for 60 days following publication in the Federal Register.

Read Assistant Administrator Mathy Stanislaus’ blog “Making Hazardous Waste Regulations Work for Today’s Marketplace” here: https://blog.epa.gov/blog/2015/08/making-hazardous-waste-regulations/

For additional information on these proposed rules, including how to submit comments, visit:
http://www2.epa.gov/hwgenerators

August 10th, 2015

moldyscreencap

What You Don’t See CAN Hurt You…

“Probably every doctor in the United States is treating mold illness, and they just don’t realize it.” – Dr. Scott McMahon, M.D.

Today, at least 45 million buildings in America harbor unhealthy levels of mold. And some of the most dangerous varieties routinely find their way into our food supply. That means you have about a one-in-three chance of exposure to toxic mold every time you move into a new home, apartment or office. And even greater odds of exposure with your next meal or snack.

Yet unlike other more obvious environmental threats, this growing mold epidemic is mostly invisible. Dramatic photos you may have seen showing full-scale infestations of black mold after floods and hurricanes are the exception, not the rule. Instead, most people only realize they’re living in a moldy home or working in a moldy building after going from doctor to doctor with symptoms they can’t explain… Poisoned by mold spores and toxins trapped invisibly behind paint and drywall, circulating unseen through air conditioning and heating ducts, or hiding in the food on their plates.

Worst of all… Unless you’re lucky enough to find the right doctor, you may end up believing the performance-robbing symptoms of toxic mold exposure are all in your head.

The good news is there IS a way out.

All too often, it takes mold victims years of needless suffering before finally discovering a someone – like Dr. Daniel Amen, Dr. Ritchie Shoemaker, Dr. Mark Hyman, Dr. Scott McMahon, Dr. Bill Rea – willing to tackle this threat head-on.

The mission behind Moldy is to bring all of these world-class experts together to give you and your family their best advice – all in one place. Along with inspiring stories behind the statistics from mold survivors willing to share how they overcame the effects of mold to emerge stronger and healthier than ever.

For more information, and to watch the free online screening of MOLDY, go to http://bit.ly/moldymovie