Thursday, March 31, 2016

EPA Requires Southern California Contractor to Warn Residents of Lead-based Paint Dangers

The EPA recently fined G.D. Friend, Inc. (operating as Everlast Home Energy Solutions) $28,564 for failing to comply with the federal Renovation, Repair and Painting (RRP) Rule while performing renovation work at two residential properties in Southern California.

“Renovation work in older homes can create hazardous lead dust, but there are simple steps contractors can take to keep everyone safe,” said Jared Blumenfeld, EPA’s Regional Administrator for the Pacific Southwest. “EPA will take enforcement action against companies to ensure they follow proper lead-safety procedures.”

G.D. Friend, located in Anaheim, Calif., installs energy efficient home improvement products, such as windows and siding. An EPA inspection found that in February and March 2014, the company performed work at two pre-1978 residential properties in Anaheim and La Verne without:
Lead paint poisoning is often considered an issue that was eradicated years ago. However, recent studies on child lead levels have shown that despite increased efforts by contractors to follow lead safe practices, children residing in homes under renovation are 30% more likely to have an unsafe level of lead in their blood than those in homes that were not under renovation. Even basic renovation or repair work being performed by contractors including plumbers, electricians, and window replacement specialists can lead to invisible, harmful dust from disturbing lead paint.

To work towards completely eliminating the hazardous effects lead poisoning can have, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has issued a new certification required for all contractors, renovators, and painters who work in pre-1978 homes and/or child-occupied facilities. For EPA lead certification, companies must register and pay a fee with EPA, and individuals must take a one-day lead safety training course approved by the EPA to become a certified renovator. The EPA lead certification is good for five years.

The Lead Based Paint Renovation Repair and Painting Program (RRP) involves pre-renovation and work practice requirements in addition to the firm and individual certification. Contractors, property managers, and other renovation workers must distribute a lead pamphlet from the EPA describing the hazards of lead before starting renovation work. The required EPA pamphlet is titled Lead Safe Certified Guide to Renovate Right, and the EPA mandates that the renovation contractor or worker must keep record of the tenant or owner's receipt of the pamphlet.

Please see our EPA Lead Certification RRP Overview for more information on how to stay compliant and save lives!

Visit the EPA for the complete press release.

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

USGBC Members Vote to Update Minimum Energy Efficiency Requirements for LEED BD+C and ID+C v3 Rating Systems

Yesterday, USGBC announced its members approved a ballot measure that updates the minimum energy efficiency requirements for LEED BD+C and ID+C v3 rating systems (including LEED 2008 Multifamily Mid-Rise). The change is effective for projects registering for LEED v3 certification (also called LEED 2009) using these rating systems on or after April 8, 2016. This update does not affect LEED 2009 O+M, ND or LEED 2008 Homes.

For projects that decide to register for LEED under the 2009/v3 versions of the rating system on or after the effective date of April 8, 2016, USGBC has highlighted some important things to remember:
  • The referenced standards will not change. The new minimum thresholds equate to a four-point minimum in the Optimize Energy Performance credit (except health care, where a three-point minimum is required). For new construction, this amounts to an 8 percent efficiency increase above the previous 10 percent requirement beyond ASHRAE 90.1-2007. Projects seeking to comply via prescriptive Options 2 and 3 will need to use a different pathway, as these options do not award a sufficient number of points. Projects may also use ASHRAE 90.1-2010 to comply, using the ASHRAE 90.1-2010 Adjusted Point Scale for LEED v2009 Projects.
Don't forget to check out our extensive LEED Exam Prep and LEED Continuing Education course list!

Monday, March 28, 2016

EPA Reaches Settlement for Hazardous Materials Violations

Brenntag Northeast, Inc., the owner and operator of a chemical repackaging and distribution plant in Reading, Pa., will pay a $55,000 penalty, and donate $30,000 of emergency response equipment to a local fire department, to settle alleged oil and hazardous waste storage violations of regulations designed to protect public health and the environment, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced today.

EPA cited the company for violating federal and state safeguards governing the storage of hazardous waste and oil. The federal Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA), the federal Clean Water Act, and Pennsylvania’s hazardous waste regulations are designed to protect public health and the environment, and avoid costly cleanups, by requiring the safe, environmentally sound storage and disposal of hazardous waste and oil.

The hazardous wastes and oils involved were waste solvents generated by cleaning containers and tanks, as well as oil and chemical products stored for distribution.

Alleged violations focused on how the materials were stored, and included failure to conduct proper and timely inspections, and failure to adequately control emissions of volatile waste, and failure to plan for oil spill prevention.

The settlement includes payment of a $55,000 penalty, of which $11,000 will be placed in the Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund and be available to fund future oil cleanups at facilities nationwide.

In addition, Brenntag will purchase $30,000 of equipment for the Union Fire Department #1 of Leesport to improve their response to hazardous material incidents. This includes foam, foam hoses and gas detectors.

As part of the settlement, the company has not admitted liability, but has certified that it is currently in compliance with the RCRA and the Clean Water Act requirements cited by EPA. The company also has developed new standard operating procedures documenting improved inspection and waste handling practices.


Avoid Fines! 
Make sure you take the proper, licensed Hazardous Materials courses.

Friday, March 25, 2016

OSHA Establishes Final Rule on Silica

OSHA announced a final rule on worker exposure to respirable crystalline silica, which can cause lung cancer, silicosis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and kidney disease. OSHA estimates the final rule will save 600 lives and prevent more than 900 cases of silicosis per year, with a net benefit of $7.7 billion.

According to OSHA, "About 2.3 million workers are exposed to respirable crystalline silica in their workplaces, including 2 million construction workers who drill, cut, crush, or grind silica-containing materials such as concrete and stone, and 300,000 workers in general industry operations such as brick manufacturing, foundries, and hydraulic fracturing, also known as fracking. Responsible employers have been protecting workers from harmful exposure to respirable crystalline silica for years, using widely-available equipment that controls dust with water or a vacuum system."


Key Provisions
  • Reduces the permissible exposure limit (PEL) for respirable crystalline silica to 50 micrograms per cubic meter of air, averaged over an 8-hour shift.
  • Requires employers to: use engineering controls (such as water or ventilation) to limit worker exposure to the PEL; provide respirators when engineering controls cannot adequately limit exposure; limit worker access to high exposure areas; develop a written exposure control plan, offer medical exams to highly exposed workers, and train workers on silica risks and how to limit exposures.
  • Provides medical exams to monitor highly exposed workers and gives them information about their lung health.
  • Provides flexibility to help employers — especially small businesses — protect workers from silica exposure.
  • Via the Communication of Hazards standard, employers must provide training on respirable crystalline silica hazards and the methods to be used to limit their exposures to those hazards.
Compliance Schedule

Both standards contained in the final rule take effect on June 23, 2016., after which industries have one to five years to comply with most requirements, based on the following schedule:

Construction - September 23, 2017. (REVISED - enforcement was delayed by OSHA from its original deadline of June 23, 2017)

General Industry and Maritime - June 23, 2018, two years after the effective date.

Hydraulic Fracturing - June 23, 2018, two years after the effective date for all provisions except Engineering Controls, which have a compliance date of June 23, 2021.

For further information please see OSHA's final rule.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Zack Academy Partners With Vado, Inc. To Offer Business and Human Resource Management Courses

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

New York, NY (March 24, 2016) - Zack Academy (www.ZackAcademy.com), a leading provider of career-oriented training and certification courses, announced today that it will include courses offered by Vado, Inc. in its catalog of class listings.

Through this partnership, Zack Academy will promote Vado, Inc.’s business practices courses offered online. Courses offered include: Increasing Your Contribution at Work, Leadership Essentials, Leading the Organization Strategy, Managing for Success, Predictable Revenue, totalView™ Behavioral Interviewing, Introduction to the Remote Leader, and Writing to Get Things Done, and much more. Vado Inc.’s courses focus on soft skills, such as management, communication, leadership, teamwork, critical reasoning, creativity and more. This partnerships expands on Zack Academy’s business practices courses offered by ASPE, Inc.Aryng, and Online Marketing Institute OMI.

“Vado, Inc. allows us to further expand our ever-growing range of courses,” said Zachary Rose, Founder and CEO of Zack Academy. “Lead by Cindy Pascale and Kim Egan, Vado, Inc., helps us reach business and human resource professionals who are looking for online courses. We are excited to help their business continue to grow.”

Cindy Pascale, Founder of Vado, Inc. commented, “While Vado is still growing rapidly, we have continued to offer high quality off the shelf e-learning courses. This new partnership with Zack Academy allows us to reach many more potential professionals looking to learn on the job and take the next steps in their career.”

About Zack Academy:
Zack Academy, the parent company of Green Education Services, is a leading provider of 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 training by serving as a clearinghouse for hundreds of training companies around the United States.

About Vado, Inc.:
Vado, Inc. is your off the shelf e-learning courseware provider specializing in employee soft skill and management development courses. Research shows that 70% of development happens on the job, and Vado is the only off the shelf e-learning courseware provider that helps the learner apply on the job through step by step instructions leveraging the natural way a person develops. The combination of short videos followed by step by step instructions on how to apply on the job helps the learner put into practice the instruction they just completed.

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

Monday, March 21, 2016

HUD OFFERS OVER $100 MILLION IN GRANTS TO CLEAN UP LEAD AND OTHER HOUSING-RELATED HEALTH HAZARDS

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development today announced that it is making more than $100 million in grants available to help eliminate dangerous lead-based paint hazards from the homes of lower income families. These grants are intended to protect young children from lead poisoning and provide an opportunity for states and local communities to establish programs to control health and safety hazards by assessing and remediating lead-based paint and other housing related health hazards.

HUD Secretary Juli├ín Castro is focused on advancing policies that create opportunities for all Americans, including helping children and families secure quality housing by protecting them from the hazards of lead-based paint and other home health and safety hazards. 

“Since 1973, HUD has been leading the charge in lead hazard identification and abatement throughout the housing industry. We know that there’s no more important mission than to protect our children and give them the greatest opportunity in their lives. These important grants will help keep thousands of children safe and healthy, free of debilitating lead poisoning.

Unsafe and unhealthy homes affect the health of millions of people of all income levels, geographic areas, and walks of life in the U.S. These conditions affect the economy directly, through increased utilization of health care services, and indirectly, through lost wages and increased school days missed. The housing improvements that communities make using these grants will help prevent illnesses and injuries, reduce associated health care and social services costs, reduce absentee rates for children in school and adults at work, and reduce stress, all which help to improve the quality of life.

HUD’s Office of Lead Hazard Control and Healthy Homes promotes local efforts to eliminate dangerous lead paint and other housing-related health and safety hazards from lower income homes, stimulate private sector investment in lead hazard control, support cutting-edge research on methods for assessing and controlling housing-related health and safety hazards, and educate the public about the dangers of hazards in the home.

The grants to States and local governments are being offered through HUD’s Lead-Based Paint Hazard Control Program totaling $43 million, and its Lead Hazard Reduction Demonstration Program, totaling $45 million. In these grant programs, HUD is providing nearly $13 million in healthy homes supplemental funds to promote identify and remediate additional housing related health hazards in homes with lead based paint hazards.

Friday, March 18, 2016

US Attorney Investigating Elevated Lead Levels in New York City Public Housing

US Attorney Preet Bharara is probing into the possibility that the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) lied about its use of lead paint. Preet Bharara is investigating health and safety conditions in NYCHA buildings, include potentially false claims made in order to receive federal funding.

“Federal regulations require NYCHA to maintain public housing so that it is decent, safe, sanitary and in good repair,” the filing says.

Last November, the government asked the city Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, for information “about individuals with elevated blood-lead levels in NYCHA public housing and documents reflecting complaints of unsafe, unsanitary or unhealthful conditions.” The Department of Health, however, declined to offer any information to avoid violating health codes. After the court order signed by Federal Judge Deborah Batts, the Department of Health has been more forthright with information. NYCHA, which has given no comment, has struggled to maintain its 178,000 apartments and blames a lack of funding.

Lead is toxic to humans and found in many pre-1978 buildings.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

OSHA Fines Wisconsin Contractor $105K After Worker Death

On March 14, 2016 OSHA cited Wisconsin contractor, Lunda Construction Company for six safety violations and fined the contractor $105,000 for its negligence in the September 2015 death of 18-year-old Hagenson.

According to OSHA investigators, Hagenson was mixing concrete when a forklift, driven by an undertrained employee with no use of his right hand, hit and killed him.

While investigating the fatality, federal investigators found several violations of powered industrial vehicle standards including:
  • Workers had no specific training on a rough-terrain forklift.
  • Workers lacked training to recognize hazards and unsafe conditions while operating vehicles.
  • Vehicles were not inspected prior to being placed in service.
  • Workers drove vehicles at unsafe speeds and too close to employees standing in front of fixed objects.
This is not Lunda's first violation. In 2011 it was issued safety violations in nine different inspections and in 2012 two workers died in highway construction.

Mark Hysell, OSHA's area director in Eau Claire commented, "This young man was fresh out of high school with a lifetime ahead of him. His family and friends are left with pain and grief because this man's employer failed to keep him and his co-workers safe. Lunda has a dismal safety record. OSHA will continue to monitor and inspect Lunda sites until the company does the right thing and makes worker safety a priority on its job sites."

For further information see OSHA's original news release.

Make sure you are in compliance with the new OSHA standards! Avoid fines and protect your employees with OSHA Forklift Training:

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

EPA-Authorized States for the Lead RRP Program

Currently the EPA has authorized fourteen states to operate under their own lead certification program in lieu of the EPA federal program for the Lead Safe Renovation, Repair, and Painting (RRP) Rule.

 Below is a list of these EPA-Authorized States and the unique certification and renewal requirements for each:


EPA-Authorized StateIndividual Training Renewal PeriodIndividual FeeCompany Renewal PeriodCompany FeeRefresher Training Courses
Alabama3 Years$100 Annual FeeAnnually$300View Courses
Delaware2 Years$100 Fee Every 2 Years2 Years$100View Courses
Georgia3 Years$150 Fee Every 3 Years1 Year or 3 Years$125 for 1 Year, or $300 for 3 YearsView Courses
Iowa3 Years$60 Annual FeeRegistration RequiredNo feeView Courses
Kansas5 YearsRegistration Required, No Fee5 Years$100 for Renewal ($200 for Initial)View Courses
Massachusetts5 Years**No Fee5 Years$375View Courses
Mississippi3 Years1st & 2nd Renovator at the company are free, $75pp annually after.Annually$350View Courses
North Carolina5 YearsRegistration Required, No FeeAnnually$300View Courses
Oklahoma5 YearsNo Fee5 Years$300View Courses
Oregon5 YearsNo Fee5 Years$50 - $250View Courses
Rhode Island5 Years$40 Every 5 Years5 Years$40View Courses
Utah5 Years$200 Annual FeeAnnually$250View Courses
Washington5 Years*$25, Included with course if trained in WA.5 Years$25View Courses
Wisconsin4 Years$50 Every 2 Years2 Years$50View Courses

*State recognizes EPA extension for renewal.

**State allows a 1-year grace period from your training expiration date, but no RRP work may be performed until re-trained and re-certified.

Friday, March 11, 2016

News Release: OSHA Fines New Jersey Contractor Nearly $200,000 For Safety Hazards

CINNAMINSON, N.J. - Workers of Berlin Builders, a residential construction contractor with projects throughout Southern New Jersey, are a step away from a serious injury or worse because their employer routinely exposes them to dangerous falls by ignoring safety standards that are required by law.

Separate inspections at New Jersey worksites in Haddonfield, Robbinsville, Glassboro and Lakewood by the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration resulted in a total of 19 repeat and eight serious violations for the Cinnaminson-based company. Berlin Builders faces a total of $198,550 in federal penalties, including:
310 East Park Ave, Haddonfield $47,080
15, Sapphire Road, Robbinsville $42,570
130 1st St., Lakewood $61,380
2500 Gianna Drive, Glassboro $47,520

OSHA opened the inspections under its local emphasis program focused on falls. Falls are the leading cause of death in the construction industry, responsible for 40 percent of the industry's workplace fatalities in 2014.

"By refusing to provide the proper fall protection, Berlin Builders is jeopardizing the lives and well-being of its employees and their families," said Paula Dixon-Roderick, director of OSHA's Marlton Area Office. "Four in 10 construction workers who die as a result of workplace injury suffer a fall, so it's vital that construction companies take responsibility to ensure worker safety. No one should have to compromise their safety in order to earn a paycheck."

Inspectors found Berlin Builders failed to:
Provide fall protection for workers exposed to fall hazards as high as 29 feet.
Train employees on fall protection.
Inspect jobsites for hazards.
Train employees on how to use ladders properly.

OSHA also cited the company for similar violations in 2015.

In addition to the fall hazards, the agency issued serious citations for a lack of personal protection equipment, damaged electrical cords, and the lack of fall protection in an aerial lift.

To view the citations, visit: http://www.osha.gov/ooc/citations/BerlinBuilders_1090814.pdf*
http://www.osha.gov/ooc/citations/BerlinBuilders_1092172.pdf*
http://www.osha.gov/ooc/citations/BerlinBuilders_1092762.pdf*
http://www.osha.gov/ooc/citations/BerlinBuilders_1108515.pdf*

The company has 15 business days from receipt of its citations and proposed penalties to comply, request a conference with OSHA's area director, or contest the findings before the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

Make sure you are in compliance with the new OSHA standards!
Avoid fines and protect your employees with OSHA Training:

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Massachusetts Contractor HIC Registration Information

Massachusetts CSL holders who perform home improvement may also be required to register as a Home Improvement Contractor (HIC). 

What is a Home Improvement Contractor (HIC)?
A Home Improvement Contractor ("HIC") is defined as any person who owns or operates a contracting business who, through himself or others, undertakes, purports to have the capacity to undertake, offers to undertake, or submits a bid for residential contracting work to an owner, as such work is defined in 780 CMR R6 and Massachusetts General Law chapter 142A (which are the rules and regulations pertaining to the program). All HICs must be registered with OCABR.

You must register if you are an individual, proprietorship, partnership or corporation that solicits, bids on, or performs residential contracting on an already existing one-to-four unit, owner-occupied, residential building, as a contractor or subcontractor, unless you meet one of the exemptions listed here.


What is the difference between a HIC and a CSL Contractor?
A CSL is required for any work that involves a building's structural elements and the holder had to have passed an examination which demonstrates knowledge of the building code. A holder of an HIC registration is not required to pass an examination. The holder is registered with the state and must pay a fee which is deposited in to the Guaranty Fund at the Office of Consumer Affairs. These serve as protections for consumers in the event of a dispute between a homeowner and an HIC.


What is "residential contracting" for purposes of an HIC registration?
For purposes of registration, residential contracting is defined as the reconstruction, alteration, renovation, repair, modernization, conversion, improvement, removal or demolition or the construction of an addition to any pre-existing, owner-occupied building containing at least one but not more than four dwelling units, which is used (or part of it is) or designed to be used as a residence or dwelling unit, or to structures which are adjacent to the residence or building, including but not necessarily limited to: garages, sheds, cabanas, pool houses and gazebos.

Please note that the registration pertains to home improvements to existing structures; program protection does not extend to new construction.


What are the fees needed to apply for a Home Improvement Registration?
The HIC application fee is $100. Further, a contribution to the Guaranty Fund is also required based upon the size of your company as follows:

  • Zero to three (3) employees…………$100.00
  • Four (4) to ten (10) employees………$200.00
  • Eleven (11) to thirty (30) employees $300.00
  • More than thirty (30) employees……$500.00


Please make money order/bank checks only, no cash, payable to the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, and mail along with your HIC application. Please note: We do not have walk-service for HIC registrations. Your application will be processed, and if the proper papers are included, your HIC contractor registration will be mailed to the address given.


What documentation is required for HIC Registration?
You must submit documentation evidencing that your business is registered with the Secretary of State's Office or your local City Clerk's Office. Failure to submit this documentation will result in the denial of you registration.


How long does it take to process an HIC registration?
Providing you have provided all the proper papers and the appropriate fees, you should receive your HIC registration within 4 weeks.


Renewal Information:Registration must be renewed every two years. You can find the application form online at: www.mass.gov/consumer.


Requirements after HIC Registration:
  • If you are advertising your services, you need to put your registration number on all of the advertisements-including advertising by way of signs or lettering your car or truck or signs placed on a customer's property, and advertisements placed in newspapers, telephone directories, magazines and websites.
  • You must also put your registration number on all building permits and contracts for home improvement contracting. 
  • If you enter into agreements with owners for work costing more than $1,000, you need to provide the owner with awritten contract. Sample contract available at: http://www.mass.gov/Eoca/docs/sampcont.pdf

Further Information:

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Mayor de Blasio Quadruples Fines for Construction Safety Lapses

Construction has boomed 300% since 2009 in New York City, but the added jobs and housing also have brought about serious construction safety lapses. 
“No building is worth a person’s life. We have a responsibility to keep the men and women who are building New York City safe. We are ramping up inspections and oversight to make sure that our workers have added protections. We do not accept any loss of life in this business as inevitable or acceptable,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio.

“We won’t tolerate contractors who cut corners and recklessly increase the risks of construction work. We’re quadrupling the penalties for the most frequent safety lapses, sweeping contractors with poor safety records at projects of less than 10 stories – where nearly three quarters of accidents occurred last year – and increasing oversight at these sites,” said Department of Buildings Commissioner Rick Chandler. “Our investigations routinely reveal that accidents could have been prevented if contractors simply followed existing safety rules. We’re determined to change the mindset that safety violations are simply the cost of doing business.”

Serious safety penalties will now rise from $2,400 to $10,000 and the penalty for lacking a construction superintendent will increase from $5,000 to a maximum of $25,000. In order to enforce these new stricter rules, the city will hire 100 more inspectors, and mandate construction superintendents at projects under 10 stories.


Zack Academy offers OSHA 10-Hour Construction Industry, 30-Hour Construction Industry, 10-Hour General Industry, 30-Hour General Industry, and more, so you can be prepared and safe at all construction sites.

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

How to Green-Scape and Reduce Waste

It is about time we all (at least us in the north!) begin to wake from our chilly winter slumbers! In its recent GoGreen! Newsletter, the EPA released some tips on reducing waste as spring is just around the corner.

Tips for Home

  • Learn to compost at home. Use food scraps, yard trimmings, and other organic wastes to create a compost pile. Adding the compost you make to soil increases water retention, decreases erosion, and keeps organic materials out of landfills. Prepare for some critters to stop by and check on the smell!!
  • Raise the cutting height of your lawnmower during hot summer months to keep grass roots shaded and cooler, reducing weed growth, browning, and the need for watering.
  • Turn off or unplug lights during the day. Doing so will save energy and help your lights last longer. 
Tips for Students and Schools 

  • If you bring your lunch to school, package it in reusable containers instead of disposable ones. Carry food in reusable plastic or cloth bags, and bring drinks in a thermos instead of disposable bottles or cartons.
  • Remember to recycle your cans and bottles after you finish eating. 
  • Work with your teachers to set up a composting program at school.

Tips for Work 

  • Make your printer environmentally friendly. Change your printer settings to make double-sided pages. Use small point fonts when possible and use the “fast draft" setting when possible to save ink.
  • Pay your bills via e-billing programs when possible to save paper. 
  • Use paperclips (over staples) when possible.

Tips for Communities

  • Be smart with your smart phone! It contains precious raw materials. Learn how to keep your information and our environment safe when donating your old device.
  • Donate old electronics!

Tips for Travel

  • Hot summer days make you thirsty. Be sure to recycle your used drink containers. Consider putting a filter on your water tap and refilling bottles with the filtered water. Instead of buying many small drink bottles, buy drink mixes in bulk and fill your reusable bottles.
  • Share the ride and the road. Public transportation and carpooling reduce pollution.