EPA Grant Utilized to Assist Large-scale Clean Up in Mississippi

EPA Grant issued to Mississippi to clean up petroleum decontamination.The state of Mississippi struggles with intermittent leaks from underground storage tanks, which contributes to a growing petroleum contamination throughout the state. Recently, the United States Environmental Protection Agency awarded a $1,094,000 EPA grant to the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality – or MDEQ – to provide financial assistance for the state’s beleaguered decontamination effort.

The EPA grant is funded through the Leaking Underground Storage Tank (LUST) trust fund. This fund is designated for state assistance in addressing contamination issues like the one that the state of Mississippi is facing. The funds are flexible within certain parameters; the state of Mississippi can use the funds to reinforce the cleanup staff that is currently in place and working to eliminate the contamination or they can contract a decontamination service to take over or supplement their efforts. If the state so chooses, they can also apportion their funds so that both options are exercised. If the state is able to recover the sum of expenditures, including any investment from owners or operators, the net result can be applied toward additional LUST cleanup operations.

EPA Administrator, Scott Pruitt, said, “Grants made under the LUST Trust Fund to our partners, like MDEQ, give states the flexibility to cleanup petroleum contamination from leaking underground storage tanks. EPA is providing funds directly to Mississippi so that the state may determine how best to address its unique and critical environmental challenges.”

Mississippi’s goal is to use the incoming EPA grant to complete eighty clean-ups and to reduce confirmed released by USTs by five percent from last year’s reports. Last year, Mississippi reported:

  • 113 new confirmed discharges
  • 100 cleanups completed
  • 419 to be addressed

Inter-state efforts such as these represent an effort to tamp down contamination on a large scale. One resource that safety leaders and contamination specialists can utilize to further understand which options for clean-up processes are available to them, is an OSHA-approved, online HAZWOPER training course.

Tacoma and EPA Provide Grant-Funded Hazwoper Training

Tacoma and EPA Provide Grant-Funded Hazwoper TrainingThe city of Tacoma, Washington, Clover Park Technical College, and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, are partnering to provide grant-funded  HAZWOPER training for unemployed, underemployed, and transitioning servicemen and veterans in Pierce County, Washington into the environmental sector.

The training, offered though the Environmental Program at Clover Park, involves:

  • HAZWOPER training and certification
  • Hazmat station training
  • Recruitment services
  • Career Counseling
  • Job Placement services

The program, funded through a $200K Environmental Workforce Development and Job Training Grant (formerly the Brownfield Grant) aims to provide a practical course offering for those individuals who work in or foresee a career in the Environmental workforce. Furthermore, the program targets Tacoma or Pierce County residents, ages 18 or older, in an effort to bolster the environmental cleanup workforce in the area. The Washington Department of Ecology – Hazardous Sites list showed that Pierce County encompasses 72% of hazardous sites in the greater Tacoma-Pierce County area; this percentage is more than 2.5 times the national average of hazardous site population. As such, Pierce County faces the demand of environmental cleanup workforce.

EPA administrator, Scott Pruit, said about the grant-funded HAZWOPER training, “Brownfields job training programs are a win-win for communities like Tacoma and others, impacted by hazardous waste sites.  They provide unemployed and underemployed citizens and transitioning servicemen and veterans with valuable technical skills that enable them to get good jobs in their communities. (The) EPA is proud to partner with the city, Clover Park Technical College, and Goodwill, to provide a gateway to careers in construction and site cleanup and bring much-needed environmental improvement to Tacoma and Pierce County.”

Positions in environmental cleanup and the handling of hazardous chemicals/waste comprise a bourgeoning career-field. Safety leaders tasked with the management of worksites which handle or house hazardous chemicals and waste should utilize an OSHA-approved training course as a resource to ensure the safety of their employees and agency compliance.

 

Alaskan SeaLife Center to Form Emergency Response Network

Alaskan SeaLife Center to Form Emergency Response NetworkThe Alaska SeaLife Center has begun the development of a national emergency response network for marine-mammals affected by oil spills. The organization, which began with funding derived from the Exxon Valdez oil-spill settlement, is utilizing a grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services and is working in association with the Association of Zoos and Aquariums to form the network.

The work done by the partnering agencies is in an effort to gather and maintain a database of veterinary professionals with specialized skillsets in oil-spill and natural-disaster affected marine-mammal care.

Chip Arnold, who is coordinating the project, stresses his hope that the project will become both self-sustaining and specialized in wildlife-response. Arnold described the earlier years at SeaLife, “I think people just assumed that we were prepared to respond to oiled wildlife but the fact of the matter was that, in the early days, we were just trying to respond to stranded wildlife and to keep our aquarium … so I think that this was just, kind-of, returning to those roots and returning to those things we knew we were going to be involved in, if this ever happened again.”

Of the requisite training components for the network of professionals, Hazardous Waste Operations and Emergency Response (or HAZWOPER) protocols will be primary. Arnold explained that, in incidents of the past, like the Deepwater Horizon spill in 2010, several professionals were qualified but could not participate in the clean-up effort because they had not completed HAZWOPER-training. As such, the efficacy of the emergency-response team was diminished.

In the case of emergency response, efficiency and timeliness are of the utmost importance. With SeaLife, their operations were hamstrung by a lack of HAZWOPER. In the general industry, HAZWOPER training is a useful and, often, mandated standard. Safety leaders who oversee workplaces that house or deal in the management of hazardous chemicals would be well-served to utilize an OSHA-approved training course to ensure the efficacy of their operations and safety of their employees

 

Flammable Material Containment In Question at Liberty Bridge Fire

Flammable material containment is paramount in all construction safety training.The United States Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration recently issued a citation to Pennsylvania-based construction company, Joseph B Fay Company, for a violation related to a September 2nd, 2017 fire which occurred during the renovation of the Liberty Bridge in Pittsburgh. The serious violation came as the result of a flammable material containment failure that couldn’t be removed from the work space, which involved metal-cutting processes and, relatedly, slag run-off onto decks below. For this violation, OSHA proposed a penalty of $7,500.

In addition to the major fire, which ignited in an uncovered plastic ventilation pipe, burned for 30 to 45 minutes, and buckled a structural 30-foot steel beam, a number of smaller fires were determined to have previously ignited on lower decks at the same worksite, in the days prior. Two separate incidents of smaller fires, which ignited due to slag run-off, were found to have occurred on Aug. 30th and Sept 1st, respectively.

The $80 million dollar-renovation was put on hiatus for 24 days, to allow for investigation and safety compliance procedures to be carried out. Flammable material containment review was under further scrutiny.

Joseph B. Fay issued a statement, regarding the incident and subsequent OSHA findings:

“Individual OSHA interviews are a portion of an investigation and need to be taken in context with all the findings. The final determination was based on the entirety of information collected and verified by the compliance officer. The OSHA investigation is closed. The bridge was reopened and safe to traffic, months ago, and not one person was injured during the entire incident. Modifications have been made to procedures to assure no future situations occur.”

Proper flammable material containment or combustible materials storage is an OSHA standard that is outlined in the HAZWOPER standards. One resource that safety leaders can utilize to identify potential fires or explosion hazards at work sites that utilize flammable or combustible materials is an OSHA-approved online training course.

Absence of Bloodborne Pathogen Training Leads to Citations

Bloodborne Pathogen Training Online is a vital part of a hospital safety programOn January 11th, 2017, the United States Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration issued citations to Pennsylvania-based healthcare provider, BNC Northwest Psychiatric Hospital LLC, doing business as Brooke Glen Behavioral Hospital, for multiple violations at their Fort Washington facility. These citations included four serious violations including the lack of bloodborne pathogen training. The proposed penalty for these violations is $32,158.

A July 11th, 2016 investigation, conducted by OSHA, revealed that employees at Brooke Glen were exposed to a variety of hazards involving workplace violence. It was determined by OSHA that a number of incidents, including employees being punched, bitten, scratched, grabbed, and hit with objects, had taken place. In some cases, these incidents resulted in serious employee injury. Further violations included:

  • Failure to provide restroom access for employees
  • Failure to provide personal protective equipment
  • Failure to establish a comprehensive bloodborne pathogen training program

For those violations involving workplace violence, OSHA has cited Brooke Glen Hospital under the General Duty Clause.

OSHA Allentown area director, Jean Kulp, said, “Documented reports of violent incidents at this hospital reflect a lax approach to workplace safety. The hospital must take immediate action and put in place effective measures, so that the hospital’s employees can work safely.”

Among the most egregious of violations in the general industry workplace are those of workplace violence. According to OSHA, “Workplace violence is any act or threat of physical violence, harassment, intimidation, or other threatening disruptive behavior that occurs at the work site.” Nearly 2 million employees experience workplace violence annually and many more cases go unreported.

Hazardous chemical exposure, including bloodborne pathogens, is often an avoidable violation. One implement that safety leaders can utilize, easily, is protective equipment. Though, the fitting and maintenance of said equipment requires periodic attention and training. Employers would be well-served to take advantage of bloodborne pathogen training via an online training-course in HAZWOPER compliance, to that end.

Wisconsin Clinic Cited For Asbestos Exposure

Asbestos Exposure leads to multiple OSHA citations at Wisconsin Clinic.On December 21st, 2016, the United States Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration issued citations related to asbestos exposure to Wisconsin healthcare provider, The Monroe Clinic Inc., for multiple violations. These citations included 1 willful and 11 serious violations. These citations came, following a June 2016 OSHA inspection of the Monroe, Wisc. Facility. For these citations, the proposed penalty is, $261,890.

The bulk of violations issued to The Monroe Clinic pertain to a failure to properly address the issue of asbestos exposure in the workplace. According to the agency investigation, The Monroe Clinic had identified that, in 2008, asbestos had been disturbed in the Monroe facility, while conducting maintenance tasks, repairs, and installation and removal of materials on the boiler, in crawl spaces, and near ceiling tiles. Despite having become aware of the potential asbestos exposure, no effort was made to inform employees of the asbestos. Furthermore, the agency determined that The Monroe Clinic failed to provide employees with protective equipment.

OSHA determined that the following violations existed, with most relating to asbestos exposure:

  • Failure to provide basic personal protective equipment
  • Failure to create a decontamination area for employees
  • Failure to implement appointed work-methods to minimize asbestos exposure
  • Failure to provide respiratory protection
  • Failure to conduct exposure assessments
  • Failure to provide medical surveillance to monitor potential exposure
  • Failure to post asbestos-hazard signage on the boiler room and in other areas
  • Failure to inform workers on the location and use of hazardous chemicals

 

OSHA Madison area director, Ann Grevenkamp, said, “Monroe Clinic knew its employees were working amid materials known to contain asbestos and failed to inform them of the location of hazards and to protect them from exposure to a known carcinogen that can cause life-long health issues and possibly death. It is imperative that employers take all known precautions to protect workers from potential exposure to any material that may contain asbestos.”

Asbestos exposure is a dangerous health issue. It is important for companies to have an active training and education program to deal with this deadly environmental issue. One resource that safety leaders can utilize to maintain HAZWOPER compliance is an OSHA-approved online training-course.

Hazardous Communications and Training Lacking in Illinois Construction Co

Hazardous communication and Proper Handling of Material is a critical element of proper training.The United States Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration recently issued citations for seven violations to Burbank-based contractor, JW Construction and Plastering Inc., following an August 25, 2016 inspection of an Evanston, Illinois home remodeling worksite. Among those citations processed were two willful, two repeated, and three serious violations involving various hazardous communications protocol, exposure to respirable silica dust as well as fall-protection. The company faces $80,741 in proposed penalties.

The agency investigation showed that JW Construction and Plastering failed to provide employees with adequate fall-protection and also exposed workers to respirable silica during cement and stucco work, a clear violation of OSHA hazwoper protocol. The company was cited for similar violations in 2014. Hazardous communications and material identification are critical to proper safety precaustions.

OSHA found the following violations, among others, to be extant at the work site:

  • Failure to develop or implement a written hazardous communications program
  • Failure to maintain copies of required data safety sheets for each hazardous chemical in the workplace
  • Failure to provide effective information and training on hazardous materials
  • Failure to ensure that employees wore appropriate hand or skin protection while dealing with stucco application
  • Failure to ensure that employees wore safety glasses with side shields while dealing with stucco and Portland cement application
  • Failure to provide fall-protection for employees working on the front-porch roof
  • Failure to ensure that fabricated-frame scaffolding was fully planked

OSHA Chicago North area director, Angeline Loftus, said, “Preventable falls account for nearly 40 percent of all deaths in the construction industry and silica presents a health hazard that can cause irreversible lung damage, that can lead to long-term health concerns. OSHA is committed to protecting construction workers from unnecessary illness, injuries, or worse.”

Among the various offenses presented in this case, the most insidious is that of chemical exposure, namely silica respiration. Because the effects of chemical exposure are gradual and often delayed in their symptoms, the prevention of undue chemical exposure must be mitigated by vigilant compliance with health and safety standards. In the case of the aforementioned violations, exposure to silica could have easily been avoided. This and other citations show a safety protocol that is lacking in hazardous communications protocol. One resource that safety leaders can utilize to ensure the safety of their employees is an OSHA-approved HAZWOPER training course.

Bloodborne Pathogen Exposure, Multiple Heath Violations Lead to OSHA Citations

Bloodborne Pathogen Exposure lead to heavy fines At Maryland USPS StationThe United States Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration has issued citations to a Maryland-based U.S. Postal Service station, doing business as Brooklyn South Carrier Annex, for a variety of health and safety violations, including employee bloodborne pathogen exposure. Among the citations processed to the postal service, were, one serious, two willful, and three repeat violations. The OSHA-proposed penalty for these violations was, $342,059.

An investigation was prompted, in response to a complaint filed with the agency, which alleged that there was employee exposure to various hazardous materials, including blood and potentially infectious bodily fluids, in an incident where packages, labeled as containing biological infectious materials, were being handled. As a result of this complaint, OSHA began a formal inspection of the Brooklyn, Maryland facility on May 24, 2016.

The investigation yielded several violations, including:

  • Failure to draft or implement a bloodborne pathogen exposure control-plan
  • Failure to perform an exposure determination
  • Failure to offer exposed employees a Hepatitis-B vaccine
  • Failure to draft or implement a hazard-communication plan
  • Failure to adequately train employees in bloodborne pathogen handling/protection-protocol
  • Failure to provide employees with properly-sized gloves

OSHA Baltimore Area Office director, Nadira Janack, said, “Exposure to bloodborne pathogen hazards can result in serious or life-threatening illnesses. To reduce or eliminate these hazards at USPS’s Brooklyn facility, an exposure control plan must be implemented, to protect employees and provide a safe and healthy workplace.

The handling of hazardous material is among the most complicated in its protocol and, for good reason. Many of the inherent dangers in the handling of biological materials are potentially fatal or life-long in their scope of symptoms. For this reason, it is absolutely necessary that those safety leaders who work in environments where hazardous materials are stored and handled make every effort to apprise themselves of any resource available, in an effort to maintain compliance.

Safe Working Conditions at Missouri Plant Questioned in OSHA Citations

Safe working conditions Lacking at Missouri Sheet Metal Manufacturer found questionableThe United States Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration has assessed $138,430 in fines to Missouri sheet metal manufacturer, Hammond Sheet Metal, numerous health and safety violations involving safe working conditions. Among the violations were 15 serious and one repeated offense. These violations came, following a July 7th investigation by OSHA, which was conducted as the result of a Missouri federal court order. This court order arose out of numerous complaints of unsafe working conditions and employee injuries. Upon inspection, OSHA conducted a review of company injury logs and found numerous suffered laceration reports.

Hammond Sheet Metal, which operates at Barrington Manufacturing Corporation, was cited for numerous offenses, including:

  • Failure to evaluate workplace for hazards
  • Failure to ensure workers incorporated eye/face protection and other personal protective equipment
  • Failure to provide workers with adequate hazardous chemicals training
  • Failure to install adequate machine guarding
  • Failure to develop and implement adequate energy energy control and machine safety procedures
  • Failure to keep spraying areas free of combustible residue accumulation
  • Failure to maintain 20 foot distance of all spark-producing equipment from potentially combustible residues
  • Failure to remove damaged powered industrial trucks from service
  • Failure to monitor and prevent chromium from accumulating on surfaces

OSHA Kansas City area director, Karena Lorek, said, “Employers have a legal responsibility to provide safe working conditions and allow OSHA to investigate complaints, when safety is overlooked. Barrington Manufacturing must make immediate changes to its safety and health programs to ensure workers are protected from injuries and illnesses in its facility.”

Many offenses are avoidable, given the proper training.Safe working conditions is a team effort with multiple facets.  One resource that safety leaders can utilize, to that end, is an OSHA-approved training course. As regards the “failure to provide workers with adequate hazardous chemicals training” offense, compliance is a simple as provide a course for all workers to participate in. The difference between proper training and a failure to maintain compliance with safety and health regulations can prove to be potentially life-threatening to employees tasked with managing hazardous chemicals.

Safety Violations | Environmental Enterprises Cited by OSHA

Sodium Chlorate was the contributing agent in a fatal fire at Environmental Enterprises.Environmental Enterprises has been cited with 22 safety and health violations from an investigation by Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). The violations are the result of a sodium chlorate fire and explosion at the company’s Cincinnati, Ohio waste treatment facility. The investigation occurred December 28, 2012.

Environmental Enterprises specializes in industrial and hazardous waste management, emergency response, and chemical packing according to the company’s official website. Environmental Enterprises was founded in 1976 and is considered a forerunner in areas such as waste treatment and storage, disposal of hazardous waste as well as environmental, health, and safety services.

Two Environmental Enterprises employees were seriously burned in the fire. One of the individuals died.  OSHA concluded the fire was linked to the exploding of an organic industrial filter cartridge filled with sodium chlorate. The company received four willful violations, nine serious safety violations, and seven health violations related to the fire incident.  Environmental Enterprises was placed in the severe violator enforcement program as a result of the four willful violations.  Some of the violations included neglecting to develop and implement hazardous waste handling procedures, failing to educate and provide protective equipment for employees assigned to work on energized circuits, and causing a fire by using electrical equipment near a flammable storage room with sodium chlorate.

Sodium Chlorate is an odorless white crystalline solid. It is considered a harmful chemical by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). The chemical is commonly used as a bleaching and oxidizing agent. Sodium chlorate is highly flammable and is also an irritant. Contact with the chemical can cause symptoms such as upset stomach, dizziness, breathing complications, and skin and eye irritations.

Environmental Enterprises ignored employee safety and health according to an OSHA director. OSHA’s corrective actions toward Environmental Enterprises reflect the agency’s commitment to promoting employee health and safety in the workforce.