With the amount of time that our Emilcott associates spend on different sites, they have seen just about everything when it comes to incident investigations. We thought we would share some of our incident investigation lessons learned, so that you don't experience similar situations. Here are a couple of example "learnings" from Emilcott's staff:Read More
Environmental Health and Safety Blog | EHSWire
With the departure of Hurricane Irene, many buildings throughout NJ and NY have sustained a wide range of water damage and require action to remediate or otherwise mitigate the impacts of water intrusion: mold, fungus and structural damage.
Timing is a key element in this response; immediate action is necessary to minimize the potential for mold growth within the building envelope. As in medicine, early detection leads to an early (and usually less expensive) cure. Time and water combined can grow to be an expensive and time-consuming enemy. Failure to respond promptly will very likely result in mold growth requiring significantly more demolition than if the condition is handled in a timely manner. What is the definition of “timely”? As soon as mold is discovered!
Experts Can Determine Proper Mold Remediation
Along with timing, selection of the proper remediation technique for the building’s water intrusion and moisture problem (removal, drying in place using fans and/or dehumidification equipment, cleaning, treatment with biocide, etc.) is essential for maintaining a safe building. Improperly implemented remediation procedures can result in cross-contamination and hidden mold growth areas which could adversely impact occupants as time passes while increasing overall remediation time and costs .
Water and flood remediation procedures vary and are dependent upon the convoluted mix of building materials, building design, furnishings, extent of exposure, and the source of the water. Water intrusion investigations and cleanup can be especially challenging in buildings such as multi-unit residences, hospitals or rehab centers, schools and older buildings. There are a wide range of environmental, health and safety (EHS) issues associated with commercial, industrial and institutional facilities; it is important to manage the project as well as the complex interaction between employees, contractors, and the public within a facility; the buildings themselves; and the physical surroundings where they are located.
Mold Remediation Services
An EHS mold expert will identify and eliminate sources of mold and other Indoor Environmental Quality problems. They will also provide a detailed project roadmap for cleanup and removal as well as project oversight for safe and effective remediation. Emilcott’s mold remediation strategy for safe and effective mold removal (with minimal damage to the building and reduced impacts to building occupants) includes the following steps:
Step 1: Initial Assessment
Locate the source of the moisture without deconstruction or disruption to the building and occupants. Determine the urgency of the mold problem and its impact upon workers or residents.
Topics: indoor air quality, General Industry H&S, General EHS, Construction H&S, Emergency Response, Air Monitoring, Mold, water, expert, irene, new york, hurricane, remediation, new jersey, flood, intrusion
Summer vacation is what every student dreams of...no school! While this may be true for the educational calendar, summer is the time of year when schools generally address their big asbestos issues. So instead of students and teachers filling the classrooms, they are replaced by a range of very specific professionals that are required to get the job done: the Local Education Agency (LEA), Designated Person, Inspectors, Management Planners, Remediation Contractors, and Asbestos Safety Technicians/Project Monitors.
Regulations for Asbestos in Schools
Asbestos in schools is regulated by the Asbestos Hazard Emergency Response Act (AHERA), promulgated by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in 1986. AHERA applies to all public and private elementary and secondary schools in the United States and requires LEA’s to identify, evaluate and control Asbestos Containing Building Materials (ACBM). At each school a “Designated Person” is given the responsibility to be in charge of the school's asbestos control program. The regulation is meant to protect children, as health issues from asbestos are not immediate, but can take decades to appear. The EPA explains on their website:
“ Although asbestos is hazardous when inhaled, the risk of exposure to airborne fibers is very low. Therefore, removal of asbestos from schools is often not the best course of action. It may even create a dangerous situation when none previously existed. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) only requires removal of asbestos to prevent significant public exposure during demolition or renovation. EPA does, however, require an in-place, pro-active asbestos management program for all LEAs in order to ensure ACBM remains in good condition and is undisturbed by students, faculty, and staff.”
Identifying the Problem
The first task of managing asbestos correctly is identifying the location, quantity, and condition of ACBM. This responsibility is assigned to an AHERA-accredited Building Inspector. In addition to conducting the initial inspection, Building Inspectors must also re-inspect ACBM every three years. Six- month periodic surveillances are also conducted by a Building Inspector or other individual familiar with the inspection results, such as a member of the custodial staff. Collectively, the inspections and surveillances help maintain the accuracy of the inventory and identify any damage that requires a response action.
Developing a Plan
The inspection and surveillance results are used by AHERA-accredited Management Planners to develop an Asbestos Management Plan specific to each school. The Asbestos Management Plan uses the inventory to assess the likelihood of disturbance and recommend appropriate response actions.
Because children are not occupying the school in summer, it is the perfect time to implement response actions that would otherwise disrupt the educational process and present risk. Response Actions include the following activities:
- Operations & Maintenance (O&M)
Response actions are undertaken by licensed firms who employ AHERA-accredited supervisors and abatement workers. Many states also require the companies to have a state-issued license for asbestos abatement work and supervisors and workers must carry performance identification permits. In many states, oversight of the work is done by a trained professional such as NJ’s Asbestos Safety Technician (AST)/Project Monitor who works for an independent firm (not the abatement company) to ensure that proper procedures are followed, and performs on-going air sampling and final clearance sampling to document that the response action does not release asbestos particles into the school. After all, the goal of the response action is to make conditions inside of the school safe!
The AHERA Regulations turned 25 this year. I f you want to find out more about asbestos and the regulations that control its presence in your local schools, visit the EPA website or review this list of FAQ. Asbestos Management Plans are required to be available to the public, and you can receive a copy from your school district just by asking.
Parents, have you heard about an asbestos removal or management plan in your school district? To learn more about Asbestos management in schools, the EPA publishes an informative “The ABCs about Asbestos in Schools” If you are part of an asbestos management team, do you have some reassuring information to share with concerned parents?
It’s funny, let’s face it. Someone shares some tawdry detail about their personal life and we wince. TMI…please just keep it to yourself! We chuckle or shake our heads. In reality, information equals power. The more we know, the better decisions we can make. If we have only half the important details, we will make weak decisions.
Let’s use some history to drive this home. Although the Allied Forces ultimately won WWII, overconfidence from the D-Day invasion and the quickness with which the Allies pushed the Germans eastward across France, caused Eisenhower to underestimate the tactical abilities and determination of Hitler’s army. This resulted in the disastrous Operation Market-Garden in the Netherlands and the Battle of the Bulge in the Ardennes. Because of lack of current data in the Market-Garden strategy, the Allies were not in Berlin by the end of 1944 as they expected. Instead, by December of 1944 the Germans had broken through into the Allies' line of advance in the Ardennes and caught us ill-prepared. Poor intelligence cost tens of thousands of lives.
This is perhaps one of the most dramatic examples of “not enough information”, but it makes the point. Amazingly, with the communication capabilities of today’s wireless, cellular, Internet and other “instantaneous” technologies, many choose NOT to use this power to gather all the project information that they can get. Like an ostrich with it head in the sand, if they don’t know something, they feel that they don’t have to react or worse, be held accountable. This “ignorance is bliss” type of decision-making is often the primary reason people make the choice to NOT implement real-time environmental monitoring on construction and remediation sites. “If we don’t know that it’s dangerous, than it must be ok, right?” Sounds crazy, but it’s true!
Using a modern and proactive approach, technology is available (right now) to continuously retrieve important and fluctuating intelligence about environmental field conditions. The information is gathered and immediately transmitted wirelessly to smart phones, PDAs, PC and laptops – all accessible by the Internet for all authorized viewers. And the data keeps rolling in throughout the project’s life cycle. What power! To be able to make an immediate decision (or better yet, a correction) from a remote location and save time, expense, and ultimately, human health.
And what about the ability to review, store and retrieve project environmental data, which was collected over a period of time, for comparison or trending? Super powerful! This can only result in better planning. Adding better decision-making abilities to better planning capabilities should ultimately result in doing a better job, a cleaner site and healthier workers. Who wouldn’t want that? So the real question is, if an environmental monitoring system is NOT collecting reliable, real-time data, aren’t you really just making anecdotal decisions based on guesstimates instead of a foundation of actual data?
Many historians feel that Eisenhower’s planning of Operation Market-Garden was anecdotal because it was based on what the Allied Forces experienced coming out of Normandy. It was certainly wrong. Historians also believe that what turned the war around was the unbelievable ability our forces had to assess the real-time intelligence they gathered as they were “living in the field of battle” to make tactical decisions and outsmart the enemy.
If real-time, reliable data is available to help you make good, solid decisions, get it and use it. You will do a better job and make fewer mistakes. Information is power and you can NEVER have too much of it. How have you used TMI to develop a better project or framework?
Topics: indoor air quality, General Industry H&S, General EHS, Construction H&S, Emergency Response, Air Monitoring, Hazardous Waste Management, Air Sampling, construction, remediation, technology, environmental monitoring, environmental air monitoring, Respiratory, perimeter monitoring, air montoring