Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Detroit Seeks to Disbar Asbestos Contractor for Repeat Violations

After nearly three years of repeated violations, the city of Detroit
is seeking legal action against an asbestos contractor.

A curious case of oversight in Detroit, Michigan has state and federal officials seeking to permanently disbar a local asbestos contractor. Contractor Jesse Brown was hired to demolish abandoned city properties - just a month after federal prosecutors accused him of exposing his workers and Detroit residents to asbestos.

According to the investigation, it wasn't the first time that Brown had been accused of negligence - Brown had received violation notices for at least 30 separate projects since 2013. His firm, Brown Environmental Construction, was issued $40,000 in fines from the state of Michigan.

Despite this, Brown was still hired by the city to demolish another 256 buildings before his removal from the project by Detroit city officials in July 2016. The suspension came after his last round of state violation notices - 13 properties across Detroit flagged for airborne asbestos - surfaced. Now, city officials tell the press that they seek to permanently disbar Brown if he bids on anymore jobs, and will arrest him if he attempts to work on anymore job sites.

The list of legal actions against Brown date back to 2013. Earlier that year, Brown Environmental Construction was hired to demolish an elementary school in Detroit. A report states that Brown failed to contain asbestos fibers during the project; state inspectors documented that asbestos dust covered the floors and was nearly a foot deep at the site. The project endangered both residents of the southwest Detroit neighborhood and Brown's own workers; asbestos is a known carcinogen that can cause respiratory illness.

Brown settled with the state of Michigan for $20,000, but subsequent findings at the elementary school spurred a federal investigation from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

Despite the active investigation, Brown still secured a city demolition project in 2014, which was also later flagged for asbestos health hazards. He admitted to a misdemeanor of negligent endangerment and was sentenced to two years of probation in June 2015. That same month, the city took away $1.65 million in business after the state of Michigan found more violations.

Yet, Brown managed to get another demolition from job from the city in 2016. Although he retained his builders and wrecking licenses, his asbestos abatement license had been suspended for at least a year. This project, too, was later cited for asbestos health violations; Brown's firm lost $900,000 in work.

State and city officials both call it "a real problem with oversight."

In July, the city of Detroit sent Brown a letter citing all of his violations found by the state of Michigan. A stop work order was issued for all properties Brown was working on. The criminal case against Brown is still pending.

To learn more about asbestos health hazards, visit the Mesothelioma Center's website. To receive your asbestos certification and learn more about state and federal asbestos standards, visit Zack Academy's asbestos homepage.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Zack Academy Partners with Swing Staging Training & Safety, LLC to Offer Construction Safety Training in New York City

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Fort Lauderdale, FL (May 17, 2017) -
Zack Academy (www.ZackAcademy.com), a national provider of certification and training courses, announced today that it has partnered with Swing Staging Training & Safety, LLC to expand its construction safety training classes.

Based in Long Island City, NY, Swing Staging Training & Safety, LLC offers construction safety training, including: Supported & Suspended Scaffolding, Rigging, OSHA 10- and 30-Hour Construction Industry, Site Safety, Flagger Certification, and more. The company’s next 4-Hour Supported Scaffold User Safety Training class on June 2nd in Long Island City, NY teaches students how to how to identify hazards, how to safely use supported scaffolding, how to properly wear a full body harness, and much more.

"We are extremely excited to welcome Swing Staging Training & Safety, LLC to the Zack Academy Network. As a cornerstone safety trainer in the nation’s most populous city, Swing Staging Training brings along fantastic brand cache, and once combined with Zack Academy’s reach, will help train even more construction professionals and keep the NYC community safe," said Zachary Rose, founder and CEO of Zack Academy.

About Swing Staging Training & Safety, LLC:
Swing Staging Training & Safety, LLC is the premier Scaffold, OSHA, and General Safety training institute, serving the tri-state area as well as various locations throughout the United States and Canada. Accredited by the International Association for Continuing Education and Training (IACET), Approved by the New York City Department of Buildings, combined with a team of OSHA 500 Certified Instructors that have over 100 years of experience, we provide top of the line training for a large variety of customers, such as business owners, supervisors, workers, engineers, NYC DOB licensees, etc. in the construction and industrial work force.

About Zack Academy:
Zack Academy is a leading online marketplace for career-oriented training and certification courses, offering classes and seminars across the United States in areas including software and programming training; construction; contractor licensing and renewal; lead, asbestos and mold certification; LEED exam prep; stormwater and water management; solar training; cleaning/restoration/water damage; business practices; analytics; and more. Zack Academy provides a one-stop shop for career and certification training in partnership with hundreds of local training companies across the United States.

Release Contact:
Peter Sfraga
Marketing Manager
646-564-3792

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Tenth Annual Global Energy Efficiency Conference Opens in D.C.

The tenth annual Energy Efficiency Global Forum in D.C. introduced
an action plan to increase building efficiency and announced two
major companies joining its sustainability initiative.

Last week, the Alliance to Save Energy commenced its tenth annual Energy Efficiency Global Forum in Washington, D.C. The alliance worked with more than 50 environmental and energy organizations to develop the Systems Efficiency Initiative, a blueprint to increase building efficiency.

The blueprint was one of the highlights of the conference, and focused on encouraging the building industry to incentivize and capitalize on building efficiency. The plan also offers 84 specific recommendations for Congress, federal agencies, state and local governments, and utility and building professionals to incorporate sustainable design. Some examples include the recommendation of building codes to include system performance requirements, which would make all new buildings energy efficient.

"We've known for years that while we need to continue making progress on the efficiency of individual components in buildings, we can't meet our goals without also looking at buildings holistically and taking a systems approach," Kateri Callahan, president of Alliance to Save Energy, said in a recent press release.

In addition to the blueprint, the forum also discussed topics such as making renewable energy more accessible and new technologies that would allow smarter interactions between building component systems for efficiency.

Another keynote of the forum was the announcement of two new companies partnering with the alliance in its EP100, a global initiative of business that have pledged to double their energy productivity through sustainability. The two major companies - H&M, the international retail giant, and Cree, an American LED lighting company - will have major impact on the consumer level of energy efficiency. H&M alone has more than 4,000 retail locations around the world.

"We have long been working to reduce our climate impact and recently launched our new commitment to achieve a climate positive value," Pierre Borjesson, the global sustainability business expert for H&M, said in a recent press release.

To read more about the Energy Efficiency Global Forum, visit the conference's homepage. To learn more about energy efficiency training and get certified to work in this exciting industry, visit Zack Academy.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Home Depot Investigation Reveals 400,000 May Have Been Exposed to Lead Paint

Details from the EPA investigation of Home Depot lead safety
violations emerge, and employees allege 400,000 customers
could have been exposed to toxic lead paint.

Last month, an investigation of Home Depot by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) began after allegations of lead paint safety violations surfaced. Yesterday, more details emerged; among them, up to 400,000 nationwide customers may have been exposed to toxic lead levels.

The investigation began in March 2017 after customer complaints of Home Depot subcontractors neglecting lead paint safety laws emerged. Customers described cases of lead paint chips left scattered on lawns and plumes of lead paint dust inside homes. In one such case, Home Depot workers replaced windows in house but did not follow lead safety rules. This resulted in lead pant exposure for a pregnant mother and toddler.

"My heart broke. You could see the fingerprints of the kid inside the crib in the dust that was generated from the work that was done," Bob Rickett, a contractor hired to clean up the lead paint hazards from the original Home Depot project, said in a recent interview.

The investigation has also prompted Home Depot employees to come forward. They, too, are concerned over customers who may not even know that they were exposed to dangerous lead. Some employees allege that the company seems to value productivity over compliance.

"I just want to see things done the right way. I think it's a nationwide problem," an anonymous Home Depot employee said in a recent interview.

Home Depot released a statement to Atlanta-based Channel 2 Action News, a media outlet helping to lead the investigation: "We're fully committed to following Lead Safe Work Practices, and all regulations, regardless of their impact on sales. If anyone believes otherwise, there are multiple ways they can report their concerns anonymously, and we will address any problem that might exist."

Although the dangers of lead are well documented, lead paint continues to be a source of exposure to many. Lead paint is still present in millions of old homes, and even small exposure to the chipping, cracking, damp or peeling paint can cause significant health issues. When renovations are done on old homes, they must first be tested for lead hazards and then treated cautiously to prevent contamination. Even outside, lead particles can gather in soil and spread to groundwater.

The investigation is still underway, but serves as a reminder to the importance of lead-safe work practices. To learn more about lead safety, visit Zack Academy's lead homepage.

EPA Reaches Settlement with DIY Series for Lead Paint Violations


The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has announced a collective settlement with Denver-area contractors KGN Asset Management, LLC, KGN Asset Management, Inc., and Restoration Realty, Inc. as part of an initiative to protect Denver residents from lead paint poisoning. 

The contracting firms are associated with Keith Nylund, the host of the DIY Network series “Raise the Roof.” According to the settlement, the firm conducted seven home renovations from 2014 to 2016 without properly following the Lead (RRP) Renovation, Repair, and Painting Rule. Violations include not attaining a Lead-Safe Firm Certification, failure to maintain proper records for the EPA to review, and not properly instituting lead-safe work practices. The firms have paid a $30,000 penalty for their violations.

Avoid fines and protect your community. Register to become a certified Lead Renovator or refresh your Lead RRP certification today. 

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Ohio Creates Database of Homes With Lead Paint Hazards


Ohio’s Department of Health has created a new database of homes in the state that have serious lead paint problems. According to the Department of Health's website, "As a result of their non-compliance, property owners have been issued an order to vacate the properties because they contain known lead hazards and have been declared unsafe for human occupation, especially for children younger than six years old and pregnant women. This means that no person should be living in these properties until the identified lead hazards have been corrected, the properties pass a clearance examination, and the lead hazard control order has been lifted by the Ohio Department of Health or its delegated local board of health."

There are just over 500 properties listed, most of which are in older cities, but health officials say this is just a small portion of the number of affect homes. Even so, it's a start and gives renters and home buyers a chance to understand the possible lead hazards in homes they plan to rent or buy.

Monday, May 8, 2017

Potomac Electric Power Co. Settles Hazardous Waste Violations at D.C. Facility

PHILADELPHIA (May 8, 2017) Potomac Electric Power Company has agreed to pay a $54,000 penalty to settle alleged violations of hazardous waste regulations at its maintenance facility in Washington, D.C., the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced today.

The settlement addresses compliance with environmental regulations that help protect communities and the environment from potential exposure to hazardous waste.

EPA cited the Potomac Electric Power Company for violating the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA), the federal law governing the treatment, storage, and disposal of hazardous waste. RCRA is designed to protect public health and the environment, and avoid long and extensive cleanups, by requiring the safe, environmentally sound storage and disposal of hazardous waste.

EPA cited the company for RCRA violations involving hazardous wastes stored at the maintenance facility, including lead-contaminated rags, lead-contaminated transformer flushing oil, mercury-containing lamps, and mineral spirits. The alleged violations included:
  • Failure to properly label or date “hazardous waste” containers;
  • Failure to keep containers of hazardous waste closed;
  • Failure to conduct effective inspections of hazardous waste storage areas;
  • Failure to maintain fire protection equipment;
  • Failure to maintain an adequate contingency plan.
The settlement reflects the company’s compliance efforts, and cooperation with EPA in the investigation. As part of the settlement, the company has not admitted liability, but has corrected the alleged violations and certified its compliance with applicable RCRA requirements.

For more information about hazardous waste and RCRA, visit http://www.epa.gov/epawaste/hazard/index.htm

EPA Contact: Roy Seneca seneca.roy@epa.gov (215) 814-5567

Make sure your employees attend the proper RCRA Hazardous Waste Management training!