Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Important Certifications for Disaster Site Workers

Posted on on 9/11/17

Disaster site workers, also known as response and recovery workers, are exposed to all kinds of hazards and work in an ever-changing environment. After natural disasters like hurricanes, infrastructure systems can be damaged or destroyed, creating hazards like flooding, downed live electrical wires, and chemical spills.

To protect these workers, they must be trained in hazard control methods, exposure monitoring, and safe work practices.

Identify, Avoid, Control

In any kind of working conditions, ideally, workers can identify hazards, have the knowledge and tools available to them to avoid the hazards, and control them.

When working in a disaster area, each of those things becomes a bit more complicated. The number of hazards is increased, and access to standard methodologies and tools to mitigate hazards may be decreased.

Workers should be made aware of the hazards that could be present before starting work, and safety training ahead of deployment is essential to creating that awareness, as well as informing workers about how they can avoid and control hazards in these high-risk areas. Also, the site and work should be monitored for changing conditions. For instance, in collapsed or unstable structures, engineers need to be continually evaluating the risk of working in and around the area.

Work practices such as establishing and maintaining evacuation routes and channels of communication are key in a disaster area. Setting up first aid supplies and services and making sure that fresh drinking water is available are also important considerations.

Personal Protective Equipment
Workers should be trained on the proper use and fit for any personal protective equipment (PPE) necessary to mitigate hazards while completing their work. Check the ANSI-approved list for footwear, eye, hand, and head protection. Workers who are out in the sun should be instructed to wear clothing that protects them from sun exposure, and special consideration should be given to heat and cold stress.

Respiratory protection is sometimes necessary, and every worker needs to be trained, medically qualified, and fit tested for the specific respirator they are using. Hi-vis attire, fall protection, chaps, snake boots, hazmat suits, PPE for blood borne pathogens, personal flotation devices (PFDs), are all items that could potentially be required to complete work safely. Specialized training is necessary to use personal fall arrest systems, hazmat suits, and respirators among others.


Hurricanes, floods, fires, earthquakes, bombings, are all traumatic events. Disaster site workers are deployed into highly devastated areas where people have lost lives, loved ones, and property. Apart from first responders, they are there to clean up and rebuild and are part of the community’s effort towards recovery. Terrible conditions, long hours, and lack of sleep can take a physical toll. Being on high alert and witnessing the devastation around them can take a mental toll. Workers need to be trained on how to prepare for the stress and exhaustion that come with working in a disaster area.

Training and Certifications for Disaster Site Workers

Disaster site workers need to be properly trained and prepared for working in a disaster zone. There are several different classes that cover important topics and a few OSHA certification classes specifically designed for disaster workers.

OSHA Disaster Site Worker #7600
This OSHA program educates workers who are involved in utility work, demolition, debris removal, heavy equipment operation and clean-up operations to support disaster recovery.

There are two levels of the OSHA Disaster Site Worker course, a 7.5 hour and a 15-hour course. An OSHA 10 or 30 Hour Construction or General Industry certification is a pre-requisite to both of these courses. The 7.5 and 15-hour courses both cover respiratory protection, incident command system, traumatic incident stress, personal protective equipment, and decontamination procedures, with the 15-hour course going more in depth on these topics.

Confined Space
A confined space is a space that was not designed to be occupied for long periods, but they are large enough for workers to enter to complete a task. Confined spaces have a limited means of entering and exiting. Sewer systems, tanks, silos, utility housings and pipelines are all good examples of confined spaces and are likely to need repairs, monitoring or maintenance done after a disaster. Confined space training prepares workers to recognize and avoid potential hazards like trapped toxic gases, engulfment, exposed live wires, and heat stress.

24 & 40 Hour HAZWOPER and HAZWOPER Refresher
There are three different types of HAZMAT courses that OSHA has authorized for workers who may be exposed to, or be responsible for clean-up operations involving hazardous substances.

The 24 Hour HAZWOPER is the minimum requirement for workers who are required to respond to uncontrolled releases or incidents where there is a potential for an uncontrolled release of hazardous substances but is not as in-depth as the 40 Hour Course.

The 40 Hour HAZWOPER course is recommended for participants who will be actively involved in the cleanup of a hazardous material spill, as well as being a first responder and responsible for controlling the spill.

Those who have achieved their 40 Hour HAZWOPER certifications must take an 8-hour refresher annually.

GHS & Hazard Communication (HAZCOM)
This general awareness course familiarizes participants with the Global Harmonized System (GHS) of hazard communication. GHS was derived from major hazard communication systems across the world, including OSHA’s Hazard Communication Standard. Participants will be able to recognize the hazard communication symbols under GHS, become familiar with safety data sheets, and hazard classifications.

Fall Protection
All construction workers should be trained in fall protection. In a disaster recovery operation, the conditions are likely to be unstable, and fall protection is essential to complete certain work. There are different levels of fall protection from a general awareness course to a 24-hour Competent Person Fall Protection that complies with the US Army Corps of Engineers EM 385 standard. Important topics for all workers to get an understanding of include, the hierarchy of controls, personal fall protection systems and fall protection principles.
OSHA 10 Hour and 30 Hour Construction
OSHA 10 hour Construction certification is rapidly becoming required by states and other governing agencies for any worker to perform work on, or even gain access to, a public works construction project. Also, private companies are demanding it as a contractual requirement. There will not be an exception with recovery and rebuilding projects, especially considering the additional risks.

The OSHA 30 hour Construction certification expands on and dives deeper into the topics of the 10 hour and is a good certification for supervisors and anyone with responsibility for a safety program to have. In addition, an OSHA 10 or 30-hour certification is a prerequisite to the OSHA Disaster Site Worker Course #7600.

Blood Borne Pathogens and Needle Stick Prevention
Blood borne pathogens training contains essential information for anyone who may come into contact with blood, other bodily fluids or waste. There is a higher risk of exposure in a disaster setting, and being trained on how to protect yourself from exposure can prevent you from contracting serious illnesses, bacteria, and viruses.

First Aid, CPR & AED Training
Everyone should learn first aid and CPR, and that certainly includes workers in a disaster recovery setting. There are different types of First Aid, CPR & AED classes. Some like the American Heart Association’s Basic Life Support and HeartSaver, while accessible to anyone, are geared to first responders and medical professionals. The National Safety Council also has a First Aid, CPR & AED course that is geared more towards those in the trade industries. No matter what type of course it is, knowing CPR and first aid, and understanding how to use an automated external defibrillator (AED) can save a life.

Disaster recovery is incredibly important work in every community. Recovery operations impact the health and wellness of the community, as well as its economic stability. It is hard to protect disaster site workers from hazards, but the right training is the best first step.

There are other classes and informational resources that can help prepare disaster site workers, first responders, and businesses for the work they must to support the recovery process from a catastrophic event.

More information can be found here:
UASC Training Catalog
NFPA 1600 Standard on Disaster/ Emergency Management and Business Continuity
OSHA Emergency Preparedness and Response

Guest Post written by Meg Whynot-Young, Director of Marketing from United Alliance Services.

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Understanding Authorized, Qualified and Competent Persons

Throughout the newly revised Subpart D, as well as the new standard for fall protection PPE, OSHA uses terms to describe various types of employees who may be assigned responsibilities based on their knowledge, abilities and qualifications. I’ve had a number of questions from clients asking about the terms and under what circumstances such designated persons should be assigned. While there is nothing new about OSHA’s use of these terms, it can be a bit confusing trying to keep the terms separate and remember whom should do what. This post is intended to help sort out and simplify that requirement.

Authorized Person
An authorized person is an employee whom the employer assigns or grants authorization to perform a specific type of duty, or allows in a specific location or area.

Loading rack, loading dock, or teeming platforms: There may be circumstances, while working on loading racks, loading docks, or teeming platforms, under which fall protection systems (equipment, device, or system that prevents an employee from falling from an elevation or mitigates the effect of such a fall) is not feasible. If the employer can demonstrate the infeasibility of such systems then they need only meet the following requirements:
  • The work operation for which fall protection is infeasible is in process;
  • Access to the platform is limited to authorized employees; and,
  • The authorized employees are trained in accordance with §1910.30. [1910.28(b)(1)(iii)]
Repair pits, service pits, and assembly pits less than 10 feet in depth: OSHA does not require the use of fall protection around repair pits, service pits, and assembly pits which are less than 10 feet deep as long as, in addition to other requirements, only authorized employees are allowed within six feet of the pit edge. The authorized employees must have received training as required under 1910.30.


Slaughtering facility platforms: There may be times when a guardrail or travel restraint system is not feasible. In such circumstances, the work may be done without those systems provided:
  • The work operation for which fall protection is infeasible is in process;
  • Access to the platform is limited to authorized employees; and
  • The authorized employees are trained in accordance with §1910.30.

Qualified Person
A qualified person is a person who, by possession of a recognized degree, certificate, or professional standing, or who by extensive knowledge, training, and experience has successfully demonstrated the ability to solve or resolve problems relating to the subject matter, the work, or the project.
Knots in lanyards or vertical lifeline: To ensure lanyards or vertical lifelines meet minimum qualifications described in 1910.140(c)(4) and (5), a competent person or qualified person must inspect each knot in a lanyard or vertical lifeline before any employee uses them. [1910.140(c)(6)]

Horizontal lifeline: Each horizontal lifeline shall be designed, installed, and used under the supervision of a qualified person. [1910.140(c)(11)(i)]

Anchorages: Anchorages, except window cleaners’ belt anchors covered by 1910.140(e), must be designed, installed, and used, under the supervision of qualified person, as part of a complete personal fall protection system that maintains a safety factor of at least two. [1910.140(c)(13)(ii)]

Rope descent system:
Before any rope descent system is used, the building owner must inform the employer, in writing that the building owner has identified, tested, certified, and maintained each anchorage so it is capable of supporting at least 5,000 pounds, in any direction, for each employee attached. The information must be based on an annual inspection by a qualified person and certification of each anchorage by a qualified person, as necessary, and at least every 10 years. [1910.27(b)(1)(i)]

The rope descent system shall be used only in accordance with instructions, warnings, and design limitations set by the manufacturer or under the direction of a qualified person; [1910.27(b)(2)(ii)]

Training: The employer must ensure that each employee is trained by a qualified person. [1910.30(a)(2)]

Correction or repair of walking or working surfaces:
When any correction or repair involves the structural integrity of the walking-working surface, a qualified person shall perform or supervise the correction or repair. [1910.22(d)(3)]

Competent Person
A competent person is a person who is capable of identifying existing and predictable hazards in any personal fall protection system or any component of it, as well as in their application and uses with related equipment, and who has authorization to take prompt, corrective action to eliminate the identified hazards.

Knots in lanyards or vertical lifeline: To insure lanyards or vertical lifelines meet minimum qualifications described in 1910.140(c)(4) and (5), a competent person or qualified person must inspect each knot in a lanyard or vertical lifeline before any employee uses them. [1910.140(c)(6)]

If any component of a personal fall protection system is subjected to impact loading, it must be removed from service immediately and not used again until a competent person inspects the system or components and determines that it is not damaged and is safe for use for employee personal fall protection. [1910.140(c)(17)]

Hopefully, this will clarify understanding. If you should have questions or desire assistance, please feel free to visit the EI Group, Zack Academy's training partner.

Guest Post written by Bill Taylor, CSP from the EI Group.

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Health Impact Project Recommends 10 Policies to Stop Lead Poisoning

The Health Impact Project recommended 10 policies to stop lead
poisoning after publishing a 144-page report on lead laws.

Last week, the Health Impact Project - a partnership between the Robert Johnson Wood Foundation and Pew Charitable Trusts - released a cost-benefit analysis of policies aimed to reduce childhood lead poisoning. Led by a team of researchers across various fields, the report zones in on ten policies that could earn communities billions in future gains by investing in their citizens.

Some of the key policies recommended by the Health Impact Project include:
  • Reduce lead in drinking water in homes built before 1986 and other places children frequent. 
  • Increase enforcement of the federal renovation, repair, and painting rule. 
  • Remove lead paint hazards from low-income housing built before 1960 and other places children spend time. 
  • Fill gaps in research to better target state and local prevention and response efforts. 
  • Ensure access to developmental and neurological assessments and appropriate programs for children with elevated blood lead levels. 
The policies follow a prevention, reduction and remediation plan to help affected children and stop new cases of lead poisoning in their tracks. Lead poisoning is associated with blood, brain, skeletal and muscular impairment. In children, chronic lead exposure can have lasting effects that seriously undermine their adult well-being.

Health Impact Project estimated that implementing these policies into state-level and federal governments could yield $84 billion in potential savings over a lifetime. These projected earnings come from savings made in healthcare, education, federal and state aid, and the criminal justice system. For example, ensuring all contractors comply with the Lead Safe renovation rule could protect over 200,000 children born in 2018 and save $4.5 billion in healthcare and criminal justice costs - or about three dollars per every dollar spent enforcing the rule.

Although the policy initiatives seem lofty, none of them are presented without precedent. The report includes case studies from hundreds of municipalities with success in implementing their own lead safe laws.

To read the report in full, visit the official publication. To learn more about lead safety, visit Zack Academy's lead homepage.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

OSHA Final Rule on Silica to Go into Effect this Fall

Delayed from June, OSHA's new standard for respirable crystalline silica
in construction is effective this September. 

Later this September, OSHA's final ruling on respirable crystalline silica in construction will go into effect. Among other provisions, the final rule will reduce the permissible exposure limit (PEL) for respirable crystalline over work shifts and health screenings to monitor highly exposed workers. Silica exposure is known to cause lung cancer, silicosis and other chronic lung diseases.

For employers, enforcement of the final ruling means that employers will be required to train and inform their employees about respirable crystalline silica hazards and the protections the employer uses to limit worker exposure.

Employers must ensure their employees are informed on the following topics:
  • Health hazards associated with respirable crystalline silica exposure 
  • Specific workplace tasks that could expose employees to respirable crystalline silica- including work practices and tools 
  • Specific measures the employer has implemented to protect employees from respirable crystalline exposure - including engineering controls, work practices and respirators 
  • The contents of OSHA's final ruling on respirable crystalline silica 
  • The identity and role of the competent person on the job site 
  • The purpose and function of the medical exam program introduced with the new standard. 
For employees, enforcement of the final ruling means that they must be cognizant of their rights and responsibilities as workers. Employees are expected to seek additional guidance if they feel uncertain with any tasks.

As per the ruling, employers are required to train their employees at the time they are assigned to a position involving exposure to respirable crystalline silica. Employers must also provide additional training as necessary - such as when employers introduce new personal protection equipment.

There is no official method for providing training; there are only official training topic requirements. Employers are free to use videotapes, slideshows or other forms of instruction to train employees. However, training must cover all specific OSHA topics in detail. Failure to properly instruct employees - determined by a lack of training or employees displaying a lack of knowledge - can result in a firm being found noncompliant.

OSHA's final ruling on respirable crystalline silica in construction takes effect September 23, 2017. Deadlines for other industries such as maritime or engineering are expected to take place next year.

To read the final rule, visit OSHA's online publication. To learn more about silica hazard awareness courses, visit Zack Academy.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Lead RRP Quiz One Answers

About two weeks ago we posted an RRP Quiz for readers - below is the answers and brief reasoning! Please be sure to follow for future quizzes.

1. Lead paint testing is required under the EPA's RRP Rule before beginning work on a pre-1978 house.
  1. True 
  2. False 
B. A firm may always assume the presence of lead-based paint and proceed in accordance with all RRP requirements.

2. Lead exposure causes what common medical issues in children?
  1. Lowered IQ
  2. Damage to the brain and nervous system
  3. Learning and behavioral difficulties
  4. Slowed growth
  5. All the above
E. Sure, all the above is always the answer! But, seriously, lead paint can lead to a litany of medical issues, especially with young children. It's important to remember there is a legitimate reason for the EPA's lead rules, even if they seem tedious and costly.

3. How long after my RRP project can the EPA audit my records?
  1. 6 months
  2. 1 year
  3. 2 years
  4. 3 years
  5. 5 years
D. Generally, the EPA does not catch contractors on the job violating the RRP rule - there are just too many contractors and not enough EPA investigators. Instead, the EPA usually finds violations in contractor records, so it's vital to keep pristine records for at least 3 years after the project completion. Our Lead-Safe RRP Project Binder can definitely help with that.

4. When testing a work area, does one spot-test kit or paint chip sample suffice for any single component?
  1. Yes
  2. No
A. The certified renovator is only required to use one spot test kit or paint chip sample for each component, even if the surface of the component is extensive (e.g., a large wall).

5. True or False: To comply with the RRP Rule, a Sole Proprietor does NOT need to apply for the EPA Lead-Safe Firm Certification in addition to attending the 1-day Renovator training class.
  1. True
  2. False
B. Even if you are a sole proprietor you must complete Lead Renovator Initial Training AND obtain your EPA Lead-Safe Firm Certification.

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Environmental Defense Fund Recognizes Communities Replacing Lead Service Lines

Fourteen U.S. communities were recognized by the Environmental Defense Fund
for taking steps to remove lead service lines. Lead service lines can leak
lead and contaminate drinking water.

Last week, Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) published a webpage recognizing communities across the U.S. that are reducing lead in drinking water by replacing lead pipes in their water systems.

The webpage recognizes 14 communities in seven states that have pledged to remove all lead service lines. Over time, old lead service lines can leak lead into drinking water. Lead exposure has been linked to behavioral and cognitive impairments as well as blood and bone illnesses. Because lead exposure is accumulative, the greatest health risk is posed to growing children as their development can be impaired by lead exposure.

Lead service lines became a topic of national concern when it was revealed as the source of the water crisis in Flint, Michigan; insufficient water treatment and deteriorating lead service lines contaminated the community's drinking water. To date, many households still have uncertain access to clean drinking water.

"Everyone can agree that lead in drinking water is harmful to our kids. Lead service lines are likely the greatest source of that lead. But lead water pipes still serve millions of American homes," Tom Neltner, EDF Health's Chemicals Policy Director, said in a recent press release.

The recognized communities have all made progress in at least one of EDF's criteria: Avoiding partial LSL replacement in favor of total replacement; providing economical and equitable replacement options for homeowners; developing a robust, public inventor; and providing guidance to assist property owners. One community, Quincy, MA, seeks to provide pipe replacements at no cost homeowners.

"Replacing lead service lines requires a broad societal commitment and a spirit of collaboration among utilities, property owners, public officials, philanthropists and many other partners. Communities that develop a vision for the ultimate removal of lead service lines are taking an important step in protecting households from lead in drinking water," David LaFrance, CEO of the American Water Works Association, said in a recent press release.

The 14 communities noted by the EDF for their public commitment to replacing all lead service lines in their area include:
  • Ann Arbor, MI
  • Cincinnati, OH
  • Denver, CO
  • Detroit, MI
  • Eau Claire, WI

In addition, EDF noted an additional 19 communities who have taken steps toward removing lead service lines in their jurisdiction but have not yet set a goal.

To see all of the communities that have pledged to remove lead service lines, visit EDF's webpage. To learn more about lead and get involved in this industry, visit Zack Academy's lead homepage.

Toledo Announces Extension of Lead-Safe Deadline

Toledo announces an extension of its new lead-safe ordinance after a slow start
to inspection and remediation of lead hazards. 

In Toledo, Ohio, a new lead paint ordinance has been met with resistance by city officials. The ordinance, passed last year, required all buildings constructed before 1978 with one to four rental units to be lead-safe certified by September 2017. Yet as a result of bureaucratic pushback, many buildings are out of compliance and city officials have extended deadlines.

Enforcement of Toledo's lead law has been off to a slow start. As of July 28, 2017, Toledo-Lucas County Health Department reports that 234 out of 50,000 buildings affected by the lead ordinance have registered and passed the required lead inspection. The new deadline for lead-safe certification compliance is now June 30, 2018, with deadlines for buildings deemed less imminently dangerous set for 2019 and 2020.

Properties that pass the inspection will receive either a one, three, or six-year certificate. One-year certificates are given to Section-8 housing, which must be annually tested for lead by law. Three-year certifications are given to properties that previously failed a lead inspection. Six-year certificates are given to properties that passed on the first try.

City officials hope the deadline extensions and flexible certification will encourage landlords to comply with the ordinance.

"The change to the amendment is positive. Now you have three different time frames available, so it's a good way to stretch this out and to try to get all of the property owners within a ear is just a lot of work to be done. It not only helps us but provides landlords with multiple properties more time to get everything done," David Welch, Toledo Director of Environmental Health and Community Services, said in a recent press release.

Since last September, the ordinance has caused a divide between city officials. Critic say that the new law is expensive and unfairly targets small property landlords; defenders say that the ordinance protects the city's most vulnerable from lead poisoning.

The biggest opposition to the ordinance came from Rep. Dereck Merrin (R-Monclova) of the Ohio House of Representatives. Rep. Merrin attempted to add an amendment to a state budget that would nullify the lead ordinance. This amendment was denied by the Ohio Senate.

According to Rep. Merrin, Toledo's lead ordinance unfairly targets small property owners, who might struggle to cover the costs of lead inspection and registration fees.

"Toledo's law is intellectually inconsistent and undercuts its own premise by seeking to protect only a select group of children," Rep. Dereck Merrin wrote in an op-ed recently.

Other city officials argue that the ordinance specifies small, older units because that's simply where the bulk of the lead is.

"Toledo is a leader in the state in creating a new law to prevent lead poisoning in the city, and is working toward lead safe homes for all of our children," Paula Hicks-Hudson, Mayor of Toledo, said in a recent press release.

This year, Department of Housing and Urban Development allocated $2.9 million to Toledo for lead hazard-related improvements; more lead inspections and abatements are expected to take place in the city this year.

To learn more about Toledo's lead ordinance, visit Toledo's official website. To learn more about lead inspection and how you can get involved in this dynamic field, visit Zack Academy.