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Environmental Health and Safety Blog | EHSWire

Proper PPE? Be SURE It Is!

Posted by Shivi Kakar

Oct 5, 2012 11:20:57 AM



If you have a giant stack of the best Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), but don’t use it, or just as important, don’t use it properly, are you trying to become an OSHA statistic? Knowing how to protect yourself from occupational hazards is a critical part of your job.

A Real Life PPE Correction


A few years ago, I was taking my annual HazWOPER 8-Hour Refresher class and a fellow student shared his story about PPE.

Part of his job was to open and close valves that allowed aviation fuels to flow to pumps used to fill airplane fuel tanks. While conducting this task, he was often exposed to fuel vapors. After complaining about the headaches and dizziness that he was experiencing, his employer had him fit tested for a respirator. However, even with the proper-fitting respirator, he still had the same symptoms of overexposure.

Why didn’t the respirator control the exposure?  As a health and safety professional, the answer was obvious to me! I asked him, “What type of cartridge are you using?”

His reply, “I am using what was given to me.” Two days later he called me to tell me that he had been given HEPA filters – the WRONG cartridge for his petroleum vapors. Instead he should have been using organic vapor cartridges. Without correction, this COULD have been become a very dangerous problem – just because of the wrong cartridge in the right respirator!

Proper Protection:  Where Do You Start?


A perfect place to start understanding how to protect yourself is to know what you are dealing with on the job.

1)      What are the potential hazards? Is there more than one? Not sure? Ask questions! Make sure that you understand the hazards and risk before you are satisfied?

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Topics: OSHA, General Industry H&S, General EHS, Construction H&S, H&S Training, worker safety, hazards, Lab Safety & Electrical, Personal Protective Equipment, respirator, Exposure, Respiratory

Need Respirators for Emergency and Post-Emergency Response?

Posted by Shivi Kakar

Aug 21, 2011 10:36:09 PM

Sarah Damaskos with Paula Kaufmann, CIH

When recalling our onsite environmental, health and safety work following 9/11, Emilcott’s health and safety staff often discuss that respirators were either not worn or improperly worn by many first responders and subsequent waves of workers and construction crew members at Ground Zero. Not surprisingly, ten years later the news media are churning out plenty of stories detailing the life-threatening health effects developing in many of these people -- possibly linked to their exposure to airborne dust and chemicals present at the World Trade Center site.
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Topics: General Industry H&S, General EHS, Emergency Response, H&S Training, worker safety, Personal Protective Equipment, 9/11, preparedness, respiratory protection, Exposure, respirators

What Has Changed in Environmental Monitoring Since Sept 11, 2001?

Posted by Shivi Kakar

Aug 15, 2011 11:00:53 PM

Dave Tomsey

On the second day of 2011, the James Zadroga Act was authorized to broaden and renew funding and extend benefits to Ground Zero workers whose death was a result of exposure.  These exposures were directly and indirectly caused by toxins present in the billowing clouds of dusts and smoke following the worst tragedy to happen on American soil in my lifetime.  The tragic sickness of countless rescue workers continues to add heartbreak where there is little room for more.

What Do We Know?


In the 9/11 crisis, workers were really battling two threats:   terrorism and vaporized building materials. The high levels of toxins at the World Trade Center site were identified and measured.  This process was carried out using sampling pumps, associated media and lab results in order to classify possible carcinogens and determine their percentage in a given volume of air.  The process is the same today. Although concentrations may differ from one area to another, the goal is to establish the worst-possible contaminant scenario to protect site workers and the public.  Once the type and levels of hazards are known, engineering controls, PPE and other methods of worker health protection are put in place.

Protecting Emergency Response Workers: What Has Changed?


In the time that has passed since the WTC tragedy, technology has progressed to offer improved worker protection. Just as smart phones have become prevalent in our lives, the same technology has been integrated into measurement devices producing smaller instrumentation with better, faster communication capabilities.  Put together, these smart systems, unthinkable ten years ago, enable real time environmental hazard monitoring.  In a nutshell, as hazards are detected at the site, real time systems send up an immediate flare.  What used to take a day (at best) to reveal is now known instantly at your fingertips.

How Would Real-time Monitoring be Used for Emergency Response Today?


As lab samples are being collected and rescue workers or cleanup crews are in service with respirators, monitoring field stations can be set up and started.  Once samples identify the risk, , the field stations can continuously measure dust and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in real time as a surrogate for contaminants found in laboratory samples.  Field stations located around and within the work area form multiple monitoring zones to (1) protect workers in close proximity to contaminants, (2) determine an exclusion zone for support personnel, and (3) protect residents and other businesses at an even greater distance from the site. End result? The constant stream of field data, with corresponding weather information such as wind, precipitation and temperature, would either confirm or indicate modified worker protection needs as the project continues.

How Do You Know When Workers Need Some Type of Additional Safety Precautions Beyond Respirators?


A real time environmental monitoring system is designed for continuous monitoring of all aspects of emergency response recovery and cleanup efforts so that risk can be evaluated as the scenarios change. Today’s technology has impacted and improved virtually every aspect of environmental monitoring:

  • Authorized personnel can receive constant updates and alarms via multiple means:  text, email or 2-way radios.

  • Incoming and historical data can be viewed by multiple stakeholders at varying locations and allow managers in the field to instantly assess trends with laptops, tablets and smart phones.

  • Measurements collected in real time are averaged and processed to show trends in and around the work zone.  These trends are displayed as either a table, graphic plots or shown with contours to establish if a work practice or area is safe for personnel

  • Plotting data points with corresponding wind speed and direction allows for managers to determine if offsite sources are impacting the job site or if the vapors and dusts shown on-screen are generated onsite.  Meteorological data showing site conditions (such as high winds) indicates when additional safety precautions should be considered.

  • New monitoring equipment now measures multiple levels of dust and vapors into the parts per billion range.  Vapors measured in the parts per billion ranges allow for managers to see if potential toxic vapors are steadily climbing from the lowest detectable levels.  Multiple particle sizing differentiates inhalable dusts from heavier ones that can contain heavy metals.  This allows managers to classify dust readings, watching diesel emissions across site for workers and heavier particulates for neighboring residents and the public.


With such new and remarkable technologies there is no reason to not employ them.

The connected lifestyle and technology of today’s standards help us accomplish many tasks and stay informed.  We are all used to checking our phone or bringing up a website to learn more.  This same connection through real time monitoring to hazardous work sites would be second nature to most and allow for the protection of many.  My hope is that there will never be a need for real time monitoring in response to an incident like 9/11 but, as an American and a CIH working at hazardous sites; it is reassuring to know that there are developed technologies in place to better protect workers if the worst does indeed occur.
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Topics: Construction H&S, Emergency Response, Air Monitoring, indoor air quality, 9/11, September 11, 9-11, Exposure, WTC, volatile organic compound, technology, VOC, environmental monitoring, real time monitoring, contaminants

Occupational Exposure to Natural UV Radiation

Posted by Shivi Kakar

Jul 18, 2011 2:09:15 AM

Laurie deLaski, CIH

It’s summertime again... time for barbeques, bathing suits, and sunscreen.  We all know we should protect ourselves from the sun damage to skin, eyes, and possible skin cancer.  I remember as a child the only available sun lotion was 2, 4, and 8, and it was considered healthy to get a little red.  A result of that latent exposure to the sun was Melanoma that killed my sister at age 47.

When asked about potential occupational “overexposure” to sunshine, I had to ask:

  • Is there more to know about protecting workers from sun exposure?

  • What are the regulations and occupational exposure recommendations for exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation?


Here are some answers ….

It is well established that UV light is the part of sunlight that causes “sunburn”.  UV light is a type of non-ionizing radiation with very high energy, which is why it can cause tissue damage.  So, it follows that one should protect themselves from overexposure to this commonplace yet risky energy source.

What do the government regulators and research institutions recommend?




The only reference in the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) standards to UV radiation regards eye protection from UV radiation generated by welding arcs.  OSHA does have an informational webpage titled “ Protecting Yourself in the Sun”.

The American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists (ACGIH) has a recommended standard for employee exposure to UV radiation; however, this standard relies on measurement of the UV exposure and is intended for indoor/manmade sources of UV radiation.

The National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) Workplace Safety and Health Topics  webpage, UV Radiation, is devoted to providing information to workers and employers regarding the risks, health hazards, and recommended control methods for reducing the risks of sunburn and skin cancer from sun exposure.  NIOSH recommends the following for protection from occupational exposure to UV radiation:

  • Wear sunscreen with a minimum of SPF 15.

    • SPF refers to the amount of time that persons will be protected from a burn. An SPF of 15 will allow a person to stay out in the sun 15 times longer than they normally would be able to stay without burning. The SPF rating applies to skin reddening and protection against UVB exposure.

    • SPF does not refer to protection against UVA. Products containing Mexoryl, Parsol 1789, titanium dioxide, zinc oxide, or avobenzone block UVA rays.

    • Sunscreen performance is affected by wind, humidity, perspiration, and proper application.



  • Old sunscreens should be thrown away because they lose their potency after 1-2 years.

  • Sunscreens should be liberally applied (a minimum of 1 ounce) at least 20 minutes before sun exposure.

    • Special attention should be given to covering the ears, scalp, lips, neck, tops of feet, and backs of hands.



  • Sunscreens should be reapplied at least every 2 hours and each time a person gets out of the water or perspires heavily.

    • Some sunscreens may also lose efficacy when applied with insect repellents, necessitating more frequent application when the two products are used together.



  • Follow the application directions on the sunscreen bottle.

  • Another effective way to prevent sunburn is by wearing appropriate clothing.

    • Dark clothing with a tight weave is more protective than light-colored, loosely woven clothing.

    • High-SPF clothing has been developed to provide more protection for those with photosensitive skin or a history of skin cancer.



  • Workers should also wear wide-brimmed hats and sunglasses with almost 100% UV protection and with side panels to prevent excessive sun exposure to the eyes.


The International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection (ICNIRP) and World Health Organization (WHO) published a recommendation paper “ Protecting Workers from Ultraviolet Radiation, 14/2007”.  This document addresses both natural and manmade UV sources.  It provides an interesting risk matrix based on latitude, work conditions, work environment and clothing and makes recommendations for additional protection based on the combination of these factors. The book is comprehensive and full of interesting facts for anyone interested in diving in.  For example, dark sunglasses without the dark side shields (or wrap-around design) will allow a substantial amount of UV exposure to the eyes.  This is because when wearing sunglasses the pupil and eyelids open proportionally to the darkness of the sunglass then the light exposure comes in from the sides!

Occupational health programs for outdoor workers at risk from UV exposure include the classic industrial hygiene elements:

Engineering Controls

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Topics: General Industry H&S, General EHS, Construction H&S, health and safety, Exposure, occupational, UV radiation, worker, sun exposure, ultraviolet, UV exposure, UV

Hazard Communication: Do You Know What You Have the Right-to-Know?

Posted by Shivi Kakar

Jul 3, 2011 11:51:26 PM

By John Defillippo, CHMP

Do you have hazardous chemicals in your workplace? If you think the answer is no, are you sure?


OSHA defines a hazardous chemical as one that presents either a physical or a health hazard. Many common and readily available products such as paints, cleaners, and other materials found in the workplace meet this definition. In fact, last year OSHA issued over 6,300 violations to companies that failed to comply with this standard. As we noted in a previous blog, non-compliance with the Hazard Communication standard was the third-largest source of OSHA violations in 2009 and 2010!

If you are an employer, you have a legal obligation to provide a workplace that is free of recognized hazards and to communicate any hazards present to those in the workplace.  In 1985, OSHA established the Hazard Communication Standard ( 1910.1200) to ensure, in part, that all workers have the "right-to-know" about the hazardous chemicals in their workplace.

Essentially, employees have a Right-to-Know about any hazardous substances that they may come into contact with at work and how to protect themselves from adverse affects. Employees, for their part, have a responsibility to follow directions and work safely by using products for their intended purpose and in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions to reduce risk and chance of exposure. This is where the Hazard Communication Standard “kicks in”, as all workplace information about hazardous substances needs to be in a Written Hazard Communication Program.  This "HazCom" program must contain

  • A list of all hazardous chemicals in the workplace and a Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) for each chemical (or product) on that list

  • All employees must have access to that list and the MSDS’s during their work shift

  • Methods to communicate hazards of these chemicals to employees, on-site contractors and visitors such as signs and labels

  • Records showing that all employees have been properly trained to understand the hazards, read the MSDSs and understand labeling and signs.


In addition to the federal OSHA requirements for labeling, the State of New Jersey has specific labeling requirements for all vessels, piping and containers that contain hazardous chemicals.

So, do you have hazardous chemicals in your workplace? Are you rethinking your answer?


If you have products that arrive with an MSDS, and you have not implemented a written HazCom Program, you’ll need to get a program in place to be OSHA compliant. If you have been following the standard, consider the following:

  • Are you keeping up with its requirements?

  • When was the last time your HazCom Program was reviewed?

  • Is your hazardous chemical list and MSDS collection up-to-date?

  • Do you know what OSHA considers “Hazardous”?

  • Is every hazardous chemical container labeled properly – even the transfer containers?

  • Are ALL your employees trained about the workings of your HazCom program and the hazards of each chemical in their workplace?


Now do you know the answer? Or, do you have more questions?


If you are confused or intimidated, don’t worry.  A great resource is the Institute of Hazardous Materials Managers which certifies individuals as Hazardous Materials Managers (CHMM) and Hazardous Materials Practitioners (CHMP). These trained professionals must demonstrate various levels of knowledge, expertise, and excellence in the management of hazardous materials. And, there are EHS (Environmental, Health and Safety) experts like Emilcott everywhere – their job is to help companies stay in compliance with state and federal regulations while protecting employees. No matter what resource you find, just ask if they are experienced in developing Hazardous Communication programs. Not only will workers stay health and safety, you’ll see added benefits like prevention of property damage, reduced insurance claims and costs, and, of course, your company will not be cited for OSHA’s third most-common violation!

Have you found any chemicals in your workplace that you didn’t know are hazardous? Does your “right-to-know” increase your job comfort level or concern you? And, have you carefully reviewed the company HazCom plan so that you understand “what to do if…”?
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Topics: OSHA, General Industry H&S, OSHA Compliance, General EHS, H&S Training, Hazardous Waste Management, HazCom, health and safety, Compliance, regulation, General Industry, emergency response training, Exposure, hazardous chemicals, chemicals, MSDS, Hazard Communication Standard

Poison Ivy: Outdoor Worker Public Enemy

Posted by Shivi Kakar

Jun 6, 2011 2:31:08 AM

Daniel Senatus

According to the CDC, poison ivy is a common poisonous plant found throughout the United States. It can be found in forests, swamplands, roadsides, backyards and even in urban environments. That means, wherever you are, poison ivy could be right there!  And, it’s not always easy to spot.  When trying to identify this plant, consider the species, the season and your geographical location as the physical characteristics can vary. Being able to recognize local varieties, especially at a work site, is your key to avoiding exposure.

Poison ivy produces a liquid called urushiol, this is the so called “active ingredient” that causes the itching, blisters and rashes in most people who touch it. Outdoor workers can be exposed to poison ivy in multiple ways:

  • Physical contact with the plant (including the roots!)

  • Touching tools, equipment or livestock that have been in contact with the plant

  • Inhaled aerosolized particles from burning the plant.


Recognition

Your ability to recognize poison ivy is the first step in preventing exposure. Depending upon where you live and the season, the plant can vary widely. It always has three leaves (like many other plants) but the size, shape and coloring may fool you. The following links provide some pictures and other useful information to help you identify the poison ivy lurking in your work place:

Prevention

When working in areas infested with this wicked plant, personal protective equipment (PPE) like gloves and boots, long sleeve shirts and long pants tucked into boots will help. Be extra careful to not touch the exposed clothing when removing it and wash it in the hottest water possible using copious amounts of soap and water with lots of room to agitate. If you’re not sure – wash it again as you can get a rash from clothing or tools that have the urushiol resin from even years back!

Always wash your skin with plenty of soap and cold water after exposure. (Hot water opens your pores and lets the resin absorb into your skin.) If you can get scrubbing within ten minutes of contact, you may have dodged the poison ivy bullet! And, always clean all tools and equipment that come in contact with the plant with soap, water and a bleach solution to avoid re-exposure.

Follow comprehensive decontamination methods – treat the urushiol resin as a chemical contaminant!

First Aid

How do you know you have poison ivy? Advice from the Mayo Clinic includes

Signs and symptoms of a poison ivy rash include:

Often, the rash looks like a straight line because of the way the plant brushes against the skin. But if you come into contact with a piece of clothing or pet fur that has urushiol on it, the rash may be more spread out.  The reaction usually develops 12 to 48 hours after exposure and can last up to eight weeks. The severity of the rash is dependent on the amount of urushiol that gets on your skin.

Once you know you’re exposed, wash exposed skin with plenty of soap and cold water to break down and encapsulate the oil. Web MD advises these additional steps:

An alternative is rubbing alcohol, which can dissolve and remove the oils from your skin. If you can remove the oil within 10 minutes, you are unlikely to develop the rash. Symptoms from a mild rash can sometimes be relieved by the following:

And, of course, if the reaction seems to be severe, is spreading or lasting longer than a few weeks, ask for immediate professional medical attention.

Three leaves? Be cautious!

At Emilcott, we frequently run into job sites with high potential for poison ivy exposure…think about the uncleared, overgrown or unkempt places that surveyers, highway workers, laborers, HazWOPER workers, engineers, inspectors,  construction workers, and landscapers, often find themselves! And don’t think that you’re immune either. My coworker, Paula Kaufmann, CIH, wrote about her overconfidence that she had not been sensitized to urushiol (and thought she was “immune” and her inevitable reaction to repeated exposure. Maybe she should have paid attention to Emilcott’s poison ivy awareness and other outdoor hazards that is a part of many of our health and safety training courses!

Have you had an experience with poison ivy on the job? Were you prepared ahead of time? If not, what happened?
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Topics: General Industry H&S, General EHS, Construction H&S, worker safety, Occupational Safety, Personal Protective Equipment, Exposure, poison ivy, Occupational Training

Green Buildings –Solving One Problem, Creating New Hazards?

Posted by Shivi Kakar

Mar 28, 2011 6:39:27 AM

Dale Wilson, CIH, LEED AP

We all know what Green Buildings are, right? There are various permutations but generally, to be green, the structure is designed, built, maintained and sustained in an environmentally responsible and resource-efficient manner. The end-all objective is to reduce impact of the “built package and system” on both the environment and mankind by

  • Using energy, water, and other resources efficiently

  • Protecting occupant health

  • Improving employee productivity

  • Reducing pollution and waste


As a LEED AP-certified professional who specializes in Indoor Environmental issues with a focus on fire and life safety, I was very interested in recent articles that are creating awareness of some critical health and safety problems inherent to the green building movement that 1) use innovative, locally-produced products, and 2) implement new design, construction, and operation approaches intended to reduce energy usage and be environmentally sound.

Green Building Fire Safety


In Megan Grennille’s recent EHSWire article about the seminal Triangle Fire, it noted that building and fire code rules caught up with the high rise construction only after the tragedy of 146 worker deaths highlighted the challenges of safety and rescue in the case of a fire. The same situation recently occurred in Bakersfield where a green-constructed Target store highlighted some new concerns for health and safety for emergency responders:
“The fire at the Bakersfield Target started, firefighters learned, at the photovoltaic array [solar] on the building's roof. Even after the firefighters disconnected the electrical mains, they discovered that the solar panels were still energized, presenting a safety challenge in addition to the fire.”

This brings to light how the integration of green building practices on a seemingly typical commercial building can present new hazards that must be identified to protect building occupants and emergency responders.  Fire fighters responding to an alarm may cut electrical power from the supply grid, but what is the procedure if there is an active solar array or an integrated wind turbine generating power as a part of the building?  Other “new” electrical and fire hazards facing unprepared emergency responders include the unknown level of fire resistance of recycled/green building materials, how to control fire spread on green vegetative roofs, and how to control smoke in wide, open atrium areas.
“ owners of green buildings might have to be aware that the green designs can present previously unconsidered challenges that arise as a direct result of construction choices. ...Because codes — even a decade after green design concepts hit the mainstream — still largely deal with traditional building designs and materials, facility managers have to know how to address the intersection of green design and current codes.”

The bottom line is that "green concepts should be reviewed as part of a fire-protection and life-safety analysis”, because buildings, green or not, must meet building and fire code standards to protect the health and safety of both the occupants and emergency responders.

Moisture and Mold Management in Green Buildings


Another potential hazard of green buildings is the management of moisture within the building and how selection of a green design and materials may be inappropriate if the location and weather are not considered:  “the design-and-construction community must not assume that if one builds green, then one will be building regionally correct or even lower risk buildings”.

A recent article, Hidden Risks of Green Buildings, was written from an insurance underwriter’s perspective and centered on the management of moisture.  The article mentioned the trend of using carbohydrate-based building products instead of petroleum-based building products.  That is where my eyes widened! Any indoor quality consultant knows the formula:  moisture + food source = perfect habitat for mold growth.  Carbohydrate-based building products are food for mold!

Moisture comes from many sources in a building: bulk water from a rook, window, or facade leak; water pipe break; HVAC condensate overflow; condensation on cold surfaces; or vapor (relative humidity) in the air.  Additional humidity can be added to the air by introducing humid outdoor air that has not been properly dehumidified or from other sources such as showers, locker rooms, steam rooms, gyms, kitchen facilities, human respiration (particularly if more people are occupying the space than the original design).  ( More information on these moisture-related potential problems including the risk of LEED “flush-outs” can be found here.)

Moisture meeting carbohydrate-based building materials over time certainly does look like the potential beginning of The Perfect Storm, because, in reality, carbohydrate-based building materials, even treated with the best biocide, would only be “mold resistant” not “mold proof”.  Given food, water, and time… mold will grow.  So as a professional IEQ consultant who has seen it all when it comes to mold contamination, I sincerely believe the article’s foreshadowing that “ the design community would be advised to prioritize the lessons…already learned from the waterproofing, humidity control, and building forensics community”.  When using potential mold “food” within a building, moisture control is ever more critical to the air quality of the building as well as the building material’s life cycle.

Are you interested in green construction? Have you thought of the potential hazards that can be created when using new technologies, new materials and tightening up the envelope?
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Topics: General EHS, Construction H&S, Emergency Response, health and safety, worker safety, indoor air quality, Air Sampling, Mold, Fire Safety, Exposure, Respiratory, green buildings, Working Green

You Better be Qualified if You are a Respiratory Protection Program Administrator!

Posted by Shivi Kakar

Mar 21, 2011 2:31:48 AM

by Paula Kaufmann

What’s the job of a Respiratory Protection Program (RPP) Administrator? 


This individual is officially listed in the site’s written Respiratory Protection Program and is accountable and responsible for the day-to-day operation of the program. Some of those “day-to-day” tasks include

  • Maintaining the site Respiratory Protection Program

  • Assessing the workplace for potential respiratory hazards

  • Defining worker exposure for these hazards

  • Selecting appropriate respirators to provide protection from defined hazards

  • Ensuring

    • Medical evaluations are conducted of employees required to wear respirators PRIOR to fit testing

    • Respirators are fit tested for all required users

    • Proper use of respirators during routine and emergency operations

    • Respirators are appropriately cleaned, disinfected, stored, inspected, repaired, discarded, and maintained

    • Adequate air quality air is supplied if supplied air respirators are used.

    • Respirator users are trained in respiratory hazards, and the proper use and maintenance of respirators

    • Periodical evaluation of the Respiratory Protection Program implementation

    • Workers who voluntarily wear respirators (excluding filtering facepieces) comply with the medical evaluation, and cleaning, storing and maintenance requirements of the standard

    • All voluntary-use respirator users understand Appendix D of the standard




Yes, these incessant and critical health and safety tasks can be quite overwhelming!  What’s the big deal? For the company or job site or administrator who does not understand why a qualified and empowered RPP Administrator is a big deal, here is a triple-play of Top 5 facts that illustrate the importance of qualified training for Respiratory Protection Program Administrators!

Top 5 OSHA Violation!


Did you know that the Respiratory Protection Standard was in the Top 5 most frequently cited standards by OSHA compliance officers last year?  Why be a part of that statistic?  More about 2010’s Top 10 cited violations can be found in a recent EHSwire blog by Emilcott’s Sarah Damaskos.

Top 5 Reasons YOU need to be “Qualified”



  1. Workers at your site are required to wear respirators for protection from respiratory hazards – and you selected these respirators.

  2. You train respirator users on how to put on and take off their respirator – along with the limitations on their use, and their maintenance.

  3. Implementation of the site respiratory protection program (which you wrote) is just another one of your jobs!

  4. Airline (atmosphere-supplying) respirators are used at your site – and you make sure that an adequate air supply, quantity, and flow of breathing air is available.

  5. You coordinate the medical evaluation of employees who must use respirators.


Top 5 OSHA Compliance Indicators!


If you get a visit from an OSHA Compliance Safety and Health Officer, they review these essential factors to help determine if the Respiratory Protection Program Administrator is “Qualified”:

  1. The written Respiratory Protection Program and interviews with the program administrator reveal an understanding of the familiarity with the respirator standard, site respiratory hazards, and the use of the respirators in the workplace.

  2. Respiratory fit testing is conducting annually or at assignment and the program administrator maintains.

  3. Hazardous airborne contaminants that employees may inhale have been identified.  Reasonable estimates of employee exposures were used in determining the appropriate respirator for employees to use.

  4. Recent changes in the workplace such as new processes have been evaluated for necessary respiratory program changes

  5. The program administrator keeps a written assessment of the program operations and implements changes that may be considered as efforts toward improvement.


How to Become a Qualified RPP Administrator


Focused, hands-on training with experienced health and safety instructors can make the difference for a Respiratory Protection Program Administrator – clarifying the waters by understanding the objectives of the law and how it applies to each work site!

As Health and Safety consultants to many types of companies, Emilcott staff are on job sites each day and see health and safety violations such respirators perched on foreheads or tissues jammed in the sides to ensure a bitter fit. Are these problems an employee violation or a company-wide result of not understanding the importance of a competent Administrator who can develop, maintain and enforce a respirator protection program that reduces occupation risk?

In these cases, we conduct urgent and immediate on-site RPP Administrator training that often includes high level managers to ensure that there is a top to bottom understanding of the importance of proper respirator usage. In addition to our private training, the Emilcott Training Institute offers public enrollment Respiratory Protection Program Administrator training courses in two formats:  an intense 3-hour course with a small class size and an in-depth two-day course.  In both classes, students learn the level of information required for their sites and are taught by an experienced H&S instructor that can answer questions. 

So if you are unfamiliar with your required duties as an RPP Administrator or you want a better understanding of how to encourage better respirator usage by your site personnel, look around for an effective RPP Administrator training class. Once complete and in practice, you should dicover aTop 5 list that looks more like this:

  1. OSHA respirator inspection passed without any problems, fines or additional action.

  2. Site personnel actively wear their respirators – the way that they are supposed to!

  3. Site workers reinforce the importance of respirator use to their colleagues (even when you’re not around)!

  4. Managers understand the need for respirator use and support related site activities such as testing of hazardous airborne contaminants.

  5. Written assessments of program changes are treated as a necessity for business to move forward rather than resented.


You ARE a Qualified Respiratory Protection Program Administrator!

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Topics: OSHA, General Industry H&S, OSHA Compliance, Emilcott, General EHS, Construction H&S, Emergency Response, H&S Training, health and safety, Compliance, worker safety, Occupational Health, Occupational Safety, Lab Safety & Electrical, Personal Protective Equipment, emergency response training, Fire Safety, Exposure, Respiratory, Occupational Training, RPP, respirator protection program, administrator

Renovations to Older Buildings: Think About Lead Paint (and More) or Repent!

Posted by Shivi Kakar

Feb 19, 2011 9:12:51 PM

Genya Mallach - CSP

As part of a standard, pre-work permit inspection by the local township, it was discovered the exterior of a church (and local pre-school) had been painted with lead-based paint!  Unfortunately, the estimates to remove and repaint the church were far beyond the church’s budget. At the acrimonious and finger-pointing church review meeting, a voice suddenly called out, “I’ll take care of it for half the cost of the lowest estimate!” Salvation!

However, when the contractor began the job, he learned that the cost of removal and repainting would be much more than he expected. In a panic, he did not remove the old paint and, to save materials cost, he diluted the new paint by 50% with water!

After the job was completed, a joyous church service was held to honor the contractor. In the midst of the service, a thunderstorm broke out and the congregants began to notice that the paint was literally washing off the building. The bewildered minister raised his arms and called out, “Oh, Lord, what are we to do?"  In reply, a booming voice from above called out, “Re-paint! Re-paint!”

I suppose the EPA heard this story as well because, on April 22, 2008, the EPA issued a rule requiring the use of lead-safe practices when engaging in renovation and painting projects that disturb lead-based paint in homes, child care facilities, and schools built before 1978. Under the rule, beginning April 22, 2010, contractors must be certified and must follow specific work practices to prevent lead contamination. Individuals can become certified renovators by taking an eight-hour training course from an EPA-approved training provider.

This rule applies to all renovations performed for compensation in “target housing” (housing constructed prior to 1978, except housing for the elderly or persons with disabilities --unless a child of less than 6 years of age resides or is expected to reside) and child-occupied facilities, except for the following:

  1. Renovations in target housing or child-occupied facilities in which a written determination has been made by an inspector or risk assessor that the components affected by the renovation are free of paint or other surface coatings that contain lead equal to or in excess of 1.0 milligrams/per square centimeter (mg/cm2) or 0.5% by weight, where the firm performing the renovation has obtained a copy of the determination.

  2. Renovations in target housing or child-occupied facilities in which a certified renovator, using an EPA recognized test kit and following the kit manufacturer's instructions, has tested each component affected by the renovation and determined that the components are free of paint or other surface coatings that contain lead equal to or in excess of 1.0 mg/cm2 or 0.5% by weight.


Lead poisonings in an office or domestic setting are mostly caused by exposure to lead dust. Here are a few facts:

  • Lead dust settles quickly on floors, window sills and other surfaces.

  • Paint repair can generate lots of lead dust.

  • Broom sweep won't clean up lead dust.

  • Lead-contaminated dust is invisible to the naked eye.

  • Initially, lead poisoning can be hard to detect — even people who seem healthy can have high blood levels of lead. Signs and symptoms usually don't appear until dangerous amounts have accumulated.

  • Lead usually targets the oxygen-carrying protein in red blood cells (hemoglobin) first. In time, it attacks the nervous system.


BEFORE conducting any renovations on older buildings, it's important to understand the hazards that may be discovered as construction continues. Determining if the interior or exterior paint contains lead, if any materials of construction contain asbestos, and if water intrusion has occurred anywhere in the building during its lifetime (wet building materials are a food source for mold) is the first step toward creating a healthier building.

Emilcott regularly assists clients who face building environment investigations such as indoor environmental quality, asbestos and lead management, microbial contamination and vapor intrusion. Our EHS staff work with building managers to quickly learn how their buildings operate, diagnose conditions, complete inspections of building systems, interview occupants, and advise on the best course of action to ensure that the building is a safe place to live, work or play.

Interested in reading more on keeping buildings healthy? Other EHSWire blog posts about building environments include:
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Topics: Emilcott, General EHS, Construction H&S, EPA, H&S Training, health and safety, Compliance, worker safety, Air Sampling, Mold, asbestos, Exposure, environmental air monitoring, Respiratory, lead, lead-based paint

The EPA’s New Year’s Resolutions: Replace PCB-Containing Light Fixtures in Schools and Radon Testing in January

Posted by Shivi Kakar

Jan 9, 2011 10:50:05 PM

Dale Wilson, CIH, LEED AP

The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) ended 2010 with two announcements that impact Indoor Environmental Quality (IEQ).   The first of these announcements involves polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) in school environments. In their press release and guidance document , the EPA is recommending the removal of all PCB-containing fluorescent light ballasts from school buildings.  The focus is on school buildings built prior to 1979 which have not undergone a complete lighting retrofit since that time.  (Note:  In 1979, the EPA banned the use and processing of PCB.)  The EPA makes these recommendations following the detection of elevated PCB concentration in indoor air at several schools where damaged PCB -containing light fixtures were present.  According to the EPA , “PCBs have been demonstrated to cause cancer, as well as a variety of other adverse health effects on the immune system, reproductive system, nervous system, and endocrine system

While this announcement is directed at schools, commercial and/or residential buildings with pre-1979 fluorescent light fixtures should also consider following this guidance to prevent exposure to their building occupants.  While replacing such fixtures will improve indoor environmental quality, there is another likely benefit:  energy costs are reduced when replacing these older light fixtures with modern, energy-efficient models.   The costs of installing lighting equipment upgrades may also be offset if there is an active incentive program offered by your state government and/or local utility such as these Clean Energy programs offered by the state of New Jersey.  This type of office or plant upgrade is a quadruple “win” opportunity for companies who qualify: 

  • Improve employee work conditions by enhancing their IEQ

  • Reduce your operating costs

  • Participate in an environmental or “green” program

  • And, best of all, have some or all of the equipment paid for by an outside resource!


EPA’s second end-of-2010 announcement recommends testing for radon, as January is National Radon Action Month.   Radon is a naturally-occurring, colorless, odorless gas that can impact your building’s IEQ if mitigation measures are not in place.  Radon exposure is the leading cause of non-smoking lung cancer.  Winter months such as January are the perfect times to test for radon as doors and windows generally remain closed for extended periods of time and heating equipment is in operation potentially creating a pressure differential between the soil and the building’s interior that would promote the migration of radon into the building’s indoor air. 

To find out if your building is located in an area prone to elevated indoor radon concentrations you can view the EPA Radon Map.  Buildings located in Zone 1 counties (red colored) have the greatest potential for elevated radon, followed by Zone 2 (orange) and, finally, Zone 3 in yellow. 

Two easy ways to start 2011 off on the right foot -- follow the EPA’s recommendation by eliminating two significant and relatively easy IEQ concerns, PCBs and radon, from your building.

Have you participated in a state or federal lighting retrofit program? Did the electrical contractor find anything suspicious? How easy was the process? And, have you tested your home or office building for radon? What were the results?
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Topics: General EHS, EPA, health and safety, indoor air quality, Air Sampling, Exposure, chemicals, schools, environmental air monitoring, indoor environmental quality, radon exposure, radon, fluorescent lighting, PCB

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