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Environmental Health and Safety Blog | EHSWire

Setting up Health and Safety Communications in Remote, Mountainous Work Areas

Posted by Shivi Kakar

Apr 11, 2011 8:46:26 AM

By Don Hoeschele, MS, CHMM

In an age where we are reliant on modern technology as a part of our job, it is difficult to imagine not being able to use your cell phone or access the Internet because of topography.  As the Field Safety Manager for a 300-mile electric power transmission power line construction project, one of my first tasks was to address the question “How do you make communication possible across 275 miles of relatively unpopulated, harsh mountainous territory”?  Specifically, I had to meet OSHA’s requirements for communication:  29 CFR 1926.35 “Employee Emergency Action Plans” and 29 CFR 1926.50 “Medical Services and First Aid”.  

For a project health and safety administrator, it is vital to be able to communicate with your team members and with outside resources. How do you keep tabs on who is where and what is happening? How do you find if something has gone wrong or someone needs help?  In fact, these are the reasons that OSHA implemented the Standards listed above – life and death situations may depend upon it!

On this particular project, numerous construction crews were working at different, extremely remote locations with a distance of several miles between each work crew. While the power line tower construction and electric line-stringing companies included requirements for an eventual end-to-end 2-way radio system, the system was not available for at least the first year of the project. And, since cell phones and the average two-way radio systems were not able to be consistently or reliably available to meet the communication needs required for this project, I needed to find an alternative. 

After digging around and countless meetings, calls, and trips to all kinds of communications companies, we settled on a resourceful, cost-conscious and effective method of communicating between the crews, safety personnel, surveyors and managers. The end result was a creative mix of new technologies:

  • Cell phone signal boosters in each vehicle in the field

  • GPS SPOT locator units for each  crew

  • New technology satellite phones for work crews heading into the most remote locations.  


The vendor that built these systems also owned many of the frequencies needed for an end-to-end two-way radio system that would reach across the 275-mile project location.

Of course, the system’s effectiveness had to be proven – we were relying on it! So, I spent hours deep in the mountains field testing the equipment in some of the most remote project locations I have ever seen. Luckily, I was helped by some of the project team members who had spent a great deal of time in this area. Experience also helps communication!

This project had unusual difficulties – a big, remote, mountainous and unpopulated area – that could have thwarted OSHA’s communication requirements.  At any time, it would have been easy to throw in the towel, cross our fingers or perhaps put together a patched-together system and hope it worked.  However, with some tenacious ingenuity and a confidence that a reliable health and safety communication system could be found, we were able to overcome the almost overwhelming challenges and put an effective field communication system into place.

Have you been faced with challenges to provide adequate communication systems for your employees?  What has made a job site seem almost impossible to conquer? What did you do to overcome those challenges?
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Topics: OSHA, health and safety, General Industry H&S, OSHA Compliance, General EHS, Construction H&S, Emergency Response, HazCom, Compliance, worker safety, Occupational Health, Occupational Safety, Hazard Communication Standard, communication

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: indoor air quality, health and safety, General EHS, Construction H&S, Emergency Response, worker safety, Air Sampling, Mold, Fire Safety, Exposure, Respiratory, green buildings, Working Green

The Triangle Shirtwaist Fire (1911) - A Turning Point for Workplace Safety

Posted by Shivi Kakar

Mar 23, 2011 3:39:09 PM

Read More

Topics: OSHA, health and safety, General Industry H&S, OSHA Compliance, General EHS, Construction H&S, Emergency Response, H&S Training, worker safety, Occupational Health, Occupational Safety, regulation, Fire Safety, shirtwaist, fire, triangle

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

Need a Paradigm Shift with Safety Attitudes at your Manufacturing Site? Try OSHA 10-Hour Outreach Training for General Industry

Posted by Shivi Kakar

Mar 7, 2011 1:13:18 AM

Martha Hernandez

When it comes to training, OSHA takes it seriously. With good reason:  training keeps workers safe and reduces incidents.  Many OSHA standards specifically require the employer to train employees in the safety and health aspects of their jobs. Other OSHA standards require the employer to make sure that only certified, competent, or qualified workers are assigned specific tasks--meaning that they have had special previous training.  OSHA compliance officers look to see that employers have provided appropriate training to their employees.  

In an effort to improve the consistency of the quality and content of health and safety training, OSHA has developed a series of “Outreach” training programs.  OSHA Outreach training focuses on segments of labor in the business sectors of General Industry and Construction and Maritime Industries. The courses are either 10 or 30 hours in duration with strict agenda guidelines containing focused and topical material, and must be taught by instructors that have extensive training and are approved to deliver the instruction.  The instructors or “Authorized Providers” must attend OSHA train-the-trainer courses, adhere to rigorous standards, and are subject to unannounced audits by OSHA at any time.  Over 3.2 million workers have participated in this type of training over the last 5 years!

In today’s blog we will look at the General Industry Outreach Training.

What is General Industry Outreach Training?


“General Industry” is defined by OSHA as any industry not directly involved with agriculture, construction, and maritime industries.  The standards applicable to General Industry are contained in Section 29 of the Code of Regulations, Part 1910.  As a result of the broad “General Industry” definition, one of the most popular OSHA Outreach courses is the 10-hr General Industry Training  which teaches safety and health hazard recognition and prevention.   OSHA Outreach training focuses on segments of labor in the business sectors of General Industry and Construction and Maritime Industries.

Who Should Attend a 10-hour General Industry Training Course?


The OSHA 10-hour General Industry course is designed for plant superintendents and engineers, floor foremen, safety professionals, project managers, and any other personnel responsible for workplace safety. Indeed, many organizations include all their plant personnel in this training because EVERYONE is responsible for safety. This course is an excellent introduction to health and safety programs for new employees or when it is time to create a paradigm shift in attitudes about safety at a facility.  The General Industry course can help line management get “safety religion”!  In fact, OSHA recognizes the completion card as an indication of the importance of safety and health at an organization.  Workers’ Compensation insurance providers often will reduce rates for companies that provide this training to their staff.

Emilcott’s OSHA 10-Hour General Industry Course


Based on the firm guidelines provided by OSHA, Emilcott’s 10-hour General Industry course provides important information about how OSHA is involved in the general industry community and how employees can recognize and control common workplace hazards. The training focuses on recognizing and controlling hazards found in the industrial workplace. It assumes no prior training nor requires prerequisite training. Much of our 10-hr General Industry course is interactive and hands-on.  More importantly, our courses are taught by instructors with real-world experience. Credentials and certifications provide a way to verify competency in particular fields but real-world experience should not be discounted. It’s one thing to talk about electrical hazards, it’s quite another to actually work around them. This experience allows our trainers to put the material in perspective and helps students make the connection between theory and practice.

Quality Training Makes a Difference


We have found that the OSHA Outreach Courses for both Construction and General Industry help site management really “get it” when it comes to site safety!  This training has given new life to existing safety programs and initiatives at our client sites.  Have you seen safety training make a difference is program compliance at your sites?
Read More

Topics: Emilcott, OSHA, health and safety, General Industry H&S, OSHA Compliance, General EHS, H&S Training, Compliance, worker safety, Occupational Health, Occupational Safety, General Industry, Occupational Training

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, health and safety, General EHS, Construction H&S, EPA, H&S Training, Compliance, worker safety, Air Sampling, Mold, asbestos, Exposure, environmental air monitoring, Respiratory, lead, lead-based paint

Regulatory Submissions & Postings Reminder (January thru April 2011)

Posted by Shivi Kakar

Feb 6, 2011 9:20:28 PM

Paula Kaufmann, CIH

Here is a handy table we recently created for our clients -- a gentle reminder to get organized! Even if you miss a deadline, it's better to start playing catchup as soon as you find out that you are not in compliance.

Want to stay informed? Emilcott publishes a timely email reminder, "EHS Regulatory Submissions", 3x/year to keep our clients informed about upcoming deadlines. If you'd like to subscribe to that newsletter, just go to http://www.emilcott.com/subscribe.asp. If you need help with your Regulatory Submissions, contact Emilcott and ask for either an EHS or Hazardous Materials/Waste consultant.

Quick Reference Guide to Regulations and Submissions (Jan-Apr 2011)





















































RegulationSubmissionFrequencySUBMISSION DATE
EPA TSCA New ChemicalsTSCA Polymer Exemption ReportAnnualJanuary 31
EPA Greenhouse Gas ReportingCertificates of RepresentationRegistrationJanuary 31
EPA Greenhouse Gas ReportingGHG ReportsAnnualMarch 31
OSHA Recordkeeping & Reporting Occupational Injuries & IllnessesOSHA Injury and Illness Log Summary – Form 300AAnnualPost Feb 1 thru April 30
NJ Emissions Statement RuleEmission StatementNon-applicability ReportAs WarrantedFeb 1
Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA) Section 312Community Right-to-Know (CRTK) Survey and Tier I or Tier II Inventory FormAnnualMarch 1
NPDES Stormwater ProgramAnnual CertificationAnnualVaries by State

EPA TSCA New Chemicals

Anyone who imports or manufactures a new polymer in 2010 that met the TSCA Exemption Criteria must submit a TSCA Polymer Exemption Report of manufacture or import by (postmarked) January 31 of the year subsequent to initial manufacture. The notice must include:

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Topics: OSHA, health and safety, General Industry H&S, OSHA Compliance, General EHS, Construction H&S, EPA, Hazardous Waste Management, Compliance, worker safety, Occupational Health, Occupational Safety, TSCA & R.E.A.C.H., TSCA, reporting, Form 300, Greenhouse Gas Reporting

OSHA Recordkeeping 300A…It’s For You and the Rest of the Country!

Posted by Shivi Kakar

Jan 31, 2011 1:59:49 AM

Paula Kaufmann, CIH

Did you know that the OSHA Illness and Injury Summary Log, 300A, is used for more than just recordkeeping at your site?  By documenting your company’s illness and injuries properly, you shape OSHA’s future initiatives!  Specifically, OSHA Summary 300A Forms are gathered by the OSHA Data Initiative (ODI) to help direct OSHA programs and measure its own performance.  

How does OSHA get this information?

OSHA gets these data from two sources:

  • As part of an annual survey, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) sends injury and illness survey forms to randomly selected employers and uses the information to create the Nation's occupational injury and illness statistics.

  • The OSHA Data Initiative mails its annual survey (in June) that collects data on injuries and acute illnesses attributable to work-related activities in private-sector industries from approximately 80,000 establishments in selected high hazard industries. In 2010, OSHA also collected this information from approximately 20,000 establishments in the construction industry in addition to the non-construction establishments. The Agency uses these data to calculate establishment-specific injury/illness rates, and in combination with other data sources, to target enforcement and compliance assistance activities. Traditionally, OSHA collects data from the establishments that meet the following categories, but as we saw in 2010, OSHA can expand these criteria.

    • Non-construction industries with 40 or more employees are chosen randomly

    • Non-respondents in the previous collection year

    • Site with an inspection or consultation visit for performance measurement

    • DART rate (days away from work, restriction or transfer) of 7.0 or higher in previous data collection




Does the data really help OSHA?

Now that OSHA has the data from BLS and the ODI, the Agency uses the information to

  • Calculate and establish specific injury and illness incidence rates

  • Develop targeted intervention programs (i.e., inspections and enforcement action)

  • Assist inspectors so that they can direct their efforts to the higher incidents hazards that are hurting workers.

  • Measure the success of agency efforts to reduce the number of workplace injuries and illnesses in select high-hazard industries

  • Provide the base data for the BLS Annual Survey of Occupational Injuries and Illnesses, the Nation's primary source of occupational injury and illness data.


What is your role?

Be a savvy and educated reporter of your company’s illness and injury information. Understanding the OSHA 300 log reporting requirements will ensure an accurate portrayal of worker health and safety as well as maintaining OSHA compliance. Can you answer the following questions?

  • How do I complete the OSHA 300 Log and Form 301?

  • Am I required to post an OSHA Form 300A ? How do I know if I am exempt? 

  • What is classified as a work-related illness or injury? 

  • How do I fill the forms in correctly without over-reporting?

  • Do I have to fill in the form if I have no recordable injuries or illnesses in the previous year? What are the rules for posting?

  • Once the form is filled in and submitted, if requested by BLS or OSHA, are there other legal requirements I should know?


Not convinced that recordkeeping is important?

Besides providing a visible record of worker safety benchmarks and improvements (or worse, tragedies and reversals), establishments that are requested to but fail to submit a completed data collection form may be subject to OSHA enforcement actions, including the issuance of a citation and assessment of penalties!  So, take the time understand OSHA’s reporting requirements and implement them correctly – it affects your company and the nation’s workers.

If you need assistance with OSHA recordkeeping, Emilcott offers a variety of ways to help your business stay in compliance from a webinar-based course that outlines the rules and regulations to the development of complete health and safety plans. Or, if you have an OSHA recordkeeping question, just ask us!
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Topics: Emilcott, OSHA, health and safety, General Industry H&S, OSHA Compliance, General EHS, Construction H&S, Compliance, worker safety, Occupational Health, Occupational Safety, Webinar, reporting, regulation, Medical Records, BLS, Bureau of Labor Statistics

The Challenge of Dust Control on Construction Sites in Winter

Posted by Shivi Kakar

Jan 16, 2011 9:03:00 PM

By Chuck Peruffo

It was a few days before Christmas and I was working outdoors as an Industrial Hygiene Technician on a construction project.  This is the first time in my life I have worked at such cold temperatures as I have been a Lab Rat most of my career.   Not being “climate adjusted”, I was bundled up like Ralphie’s little brother, Randy, from A Christmas Story.   As I kept one eye on my meters and the other eye trained on the excavator in front of me, the wind started to pick up.  The clouds of dust coming off the road shouted “dust control needed” even before I checked the numbers on the dust monitors.

Dust control is an important way to keep what’s in the ground out of the air and out of your lungs.  The standard method for controlling dust is to spray water on the ground. This practice works fine until your water truck freezes solid.  So, what do you do when Jack Frost is nipping at your nose and the dust is flying in the air?  Your solution for dust control is to make up a solution of water and a chemical such as magnesium chloride hexahydrate (“Mag flake”).  

Mag flake or Mag brine has long been used to control dust on rural roads.  Mag flake can be mixed directly into your water truck.  A bit of a disclaimer:  although Mag brine is less corrosive that sodium chloride, make sure the water truck tank vessel can handle the solution by noting the material of manufacture and then consulting a corrosion guide. And, it is good practice to flush the tank truck with clean water after use.

Some manufacturers sell Mag brine at up to a 33% solution for dust control. That translates into more than 2 ½ tons of Magnesium Chloride in a 2000 gallon water truck which is fine for dust control on rural roads that aren’t sprayed often but may be too concentrated for a construction site application. 

At Emilcott, we have found a solution to meet the challenge of frozen water.  Roughly, a 50 pound bag of magnesium chloride added to a 2000 gallon water truck lowers the freezing temperature by 0.3°F.  So, to have a liquid wetting agent for effective dust control when the temperature is around 25°F, we add 1500 pounds of magnesium chloride into a 2000 gallon water truck or about a 0.9% Mag brine solution.  And, now we have our “solution” to keep the dust out of the air!

Here’s the formula and factors Emilcott uses to determine how much magnesium chloride we need to add to the water truck to get the right, wet solution:

∆T = i * Kf * m

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Topics: health and safety, dust control, General EHS, Construction H&S, Hazardous Waste Management, Compliance, worker safety, Occupational Health, Occupational Safety, Air Sampling, environmental air monitoring, magnesium chloride, mag brine, mag flake, magnesium chloride hexahydrate

On-line Safety Prequalification – Does the Process Really Work?

Posted by Shivi Kakar

Jan 3, 2011 2:09:25 AM

Laurie de Laski

Having spent a large part of the last 25 years as an EHS professional developing and implementing Health and Safety Plans in a wide variety of industries, I was pleased to see that companies are requesting contractors and service providers to be prequalified for safety during the bidding process.  Conceptually, prequalification for safety should “raise the safety bar” and, companies with a well-developed safety plan should be rewarded for their proactive ethos with a competitive edge in the marketplace.  At Emilcott we have seen this really happen! Highly competitive project opportunities open up for clients that have genuinely adopted a top to bottom buy-in on the importance and value of safety. And, of course, they also experience measurable drops in both injury and insurance rates based on their safety performance.

Is the safety prequalification process good?

To have the “win-win”, the safety programs required for the project must be appropriate for the bidding contractor’s scope of work.  And, these safety programs need to be adopted, implemented and enforced. So, in order to make the prequalification process manageable for the companies writing the scope of work and the bidding contractors, an industry of on-line safety verification companies has evolved. While helping the contracting companies organize their bid processes, this on-line verification is very one-size fits all and focuses heavily on written programs, which may not be applicable to the scope of work.  This all or nothing approach leaves me wondering if on-line verification actually does raise the bar or just rubber-stamps paper safety programs.

Here’s the process “in theory”…

Contractors must have written safety programs that meet the requirements of the client.  The programs are submitted on-line and reviewed by the verification company.  Programs meeting the specifications are passed; those that don’t pass are requested to be updated.  This practice sounds likes a good idea, however,

  • Many times contractors are required to write safety plans for equipment and operations outside the scope of their operations.

  • The contractors spend a significant amount of time inputting the information to the website with no guarantee of being accepted. 

  • Many of the bidding contractors are small businesses without the support or money to handle the overhead costs associated with maintaining their entries in the safety verification website.


For a quick safety program, click here!

Don't have the time to develop a safety plan? Don’t know what you’re missing? Under the gun to qualify for a lucrative project?  Don’t worry!

A large number of on-line “safety” specialists are available to help contractors meet the prequalification safety requirements! They advertise the development of company-specific safety programs that will meet the verification requirements at a very low cost, and some will include on-line input on behalf of the contractor and guarantee that they will pass.  One organization guaranteed approval in 72 hours!

Wait a minute…what problem does this solve? These companies offer to “customize” the safety plan by including the contractor’s company name and logo.  These cookie-cutter programs may meet verification requirements, but don’t appear to be customized for the contractor operations or the protection of the workers.  My sense is that there is no effort to actually develop a program that would be implemented by the contractor.  In conclusion, this “click here” approach does not raise the safety bar – it merely creates the illusion of a safety culture.

So, does safety prequalification work?

While health and safety program verification using this broad, sweeping approach may reduce the client’s liability, it doesn’t automatically improve safety performance.  In addition, the contractor may not be aware that they are creating a huge liability if they don’t implement their own safety program. In fact, OSHA will fine heavily for injuries that occur due to the lack of compliance with their stated safety plan.  Criminal penalties are also a possibility since the contractor could be considered negligent in not implementing or enforcing the procedures.

Where should we go from here?

The Requirements - Companies should require contractors to maintain only the safety programs that apply to the scope of work.  Requiring extensive safety programs for hazards the contractor is not likely to encounter devalues the safety culture for both the site and the contractor.

The Contractor Safety Programs - Contractors need to honestly implement programs that apply to their scope of work; understand the intent of the specific safety programs by learning the requirements of the regulations, provide employee training, and foster a culture of safety awareness with their employees.

The Verification Process – Be clear about the REAL goal of the process. If the objectives are truly to reduce accidents, improve safety, and make sure that everyone goes home at night, then old fashioned site health and safety inspections are what should be required.  Seeing how people work is the best way to make improvements in safety!

Do you think that the on-line safety verification process actually make a difference or is worth the time and expense?  Have you worked on a project where the on-line verification process develop and promoted a safe work environment, or like me, do you doubt they make a positive impact at all?
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Topics: Personal Protective Equipment, health and safety, General Industry H&S, General EHS, Construction H&S, H&S Training, Compliance, worker safety, Occupational Health, Occupational Safety, Occupational Training, safety plan, health and safety plan, safety prequalification, on-line verification

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