What is Air Quality? Definitions and Pollution Sources

Earlier this year, a very interesting New Yorker article was published regarding the air pollution commonly found in homes.  The article provided details about an indoor air quality study conducted in a ranch house on the engineering campus of the University of Texas at Austin.  This study prompted discussion amongst several W&M staffers about the different terminology and services related to ‘air quality’ that happens at W&M and how it can be very confusing to differentiate between each type if you aren’t “in the business”! Depending upon the goal of a project, the term ‘air quality’ may or may not be technically correct and it has different meanings depending upon the specifics of the project being requested.  W&M offers many different services to its industrial, oil & gas, education, and real estate clients, and each of these business sectors requires different types of ‘air quality’ support.  Industrial compliance is one
Read More





Don’t Be Another Viral Video…Have Inspections!

June is National Safety Month so we’re highlighting another safety area you and those in your facility should be mindful of. Most EHS professionals have seen videos of catastrophic mobile crane and construction crane failures.  While not as visually impressive, the results of bridge/jib crane or sling failures can be just as damaging. You probably don’t have time to verify all of the OSHA inspection items for cranes and slings during an area tour.  However, there are a few items which can be visually checked quickly and easily, and most workers can be trained to perform these routine inspections of bridge/jib cranes and slings.  These visual assessments can help keep employees safe. While you are inspecting your facility make sure that your overhead/jib cranes inspections are addressing the following: The load rating of the overhead bridge/jib crane must be marked on both sides. The controls on the pendant or remote
Read More





Listen Up: Protecting Your Workers from Hazardous Noise

Noise is one of, if not the most common workplace hazard. OSHA reports that at least 22 million workers are exposed to damaging noise at work each year. Not only can noise permanently damage an employee’s hearing, but it is generally very costly for employers to pay compensation claims for occupational hearing loss. For those reasons, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) mandates that employees exposed to a time-weighted average (TWA) of 85 decibels A-weighted (dBA) for an 8-hour shift shall be put into a hearing conservation program as lined out in 29 CFR §1910.95.  At W&M, we help employers evaluate their high noise exposure areas, monitor employee exposure, develop hearing conservation programs, and help with regulatory compliance. While in the field, we have noticed a common problem with noise monitoring activities conducted by employers. Many employers like to do their own noise monitoring, which is a viable option that
Read More





A.D.D.ing It All Up

We never thought we would want to write about this topic, much less need to write about it. Unfortunately, it is the reality we live in. We all spend much of our day in office areas with dozens of co-workers, a good portion of us are parents with school-aged children, and we spend a large part of our lives in congested areas (shopping malls – while they still exist, hospitals, churches, etc.) – each potentially susceptible to attack Adapting to an unfortunate reality Active shooter situations are occurring at an alarming rate and don’t appear to be limited to a specific race, culture, demographic, or even physical region. What makes active shooter situations so frightening is that there is no real outward rhyme or reason as to when and where they occur. They are unpredictable by nature. They typically involve only one or two shooters that have a plan (well developed
Read More





Understanding OSHA’s New NEP on PSM and EPA’s RMP Final Rule


  • April 27, 2017
    11:30 am - 12:30 pm

Join Conan Reed, Lori Siegelman, and Cindy Bishop for a lunchtime webinar as they discuss OSHA’s new NEP (National Emphasis Program) on PSM (Process Safety Management) and EPA’s RMP (Risk Management Program) Final Rule.  Grab your lunch and listen to our experts explain how the changes may impact your company.   (more…)





Understanding OSHA’s New NEP on PSM and EPA’s RMP Final Rule

Facilities that utilize a process that contains any listed (40 CFR 68.130) substances above the threshold quantity are required by the EPA (via the Clean Air Act) to develop and implement a Risk Management Program (RMP). Development of an RMP can be very simple for certain industries to extremely complex for those facilities with multiple regulated substances and processes. EPA’s goal is to prevent off-site impact to the general public. The OSHA Process Safety Management (PSM) standard (29 CFR 1910.119) which focuses on worker safety appears to be the same as an RMP, however, there are key differences. The most important is that they both exist to protect different constituencies and to address different regulations. They also have different threshold limits and regulate different chemicals.  OSHA’s list of Highly Hazardous Chemicals can be found in 29 CFR 1910.119 App A. Reporting requirements are also different. For example, a plant may use over 15,000
Read More





OSHA’s Top 10 List To Help Eliminate Workplace Injuries

OSHA recently published their top 10 list and fall protection is at the top of the list – again. OSHA has a Stop Falls online campaign to help reduce the number of preventable, fall-related deaths in the construction Industry that offer detailed information on current fall protection regulations and standards. Materials provided include Safact sheets, posters and videos. The goal of these resources is to show fall hazards that exist, and how to prevent them. OSHA has developed similar materials and tools to assist in compliance with other things on the list, such as hazard communication (2nd on the list) and respiratory protection (4th on the list). Implementation of a comprehensive Safety and Health Program will address all of these areas on OSHA’s top 10 list as well as help eliminate workplace injuries. For questions or assistance with your safety program, contact Conan Reed.





OSHA Releases Major Safety Rule on Silica

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) just made the lives of workers in the construction, manufacturing, maritime and general industries a lot safer. On Thursday, OSHA issued a final rule to help curb lung cancer, kidney disease, and other chronic illnesses in American workers by limiting their exposure to respirable crystalline silica. The rule will take effect on June 23, 2016. Crystalline silica is an important industrial material that is commonly found in sand, stone, rock, concrete, brick, block, and mortar. Silica dust is hazardous when very small particles are released in the air and inhaled. For example, during the sandblasting of building materials such as concrete and mortar. OSHA estimates that 2 million workers in the U.S. are exposed to silica on a regular basis and that this rule will save 600 lives a year. They also are projecting that the net benefits to the US economy will
Read More





Fostering Employee Involvement in Safety Programs

An unsafe workplace is more than a hazard – it’s costly. According to the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA), U.S. businesses spend $170 billion a year on costs associated with occupational injuries and illnesses. Workplace injuries alone cost businesses a billion dollars every week. But while most businesses at least attempt to foster safety, not all safety programs succeed. Why not? In order to work, safety programs must create real change within their organizations. That demands effective employee involvement. Employee involvement means participation by employees at every level and in every department of an organization – not just hourly or line workers, or the one or two folks with the word “safety” in their job titles. To facilitate that, the organization’s leadership must provide frequent, consistent communication that informs employees of safety procedures and that reinforces clear expectations that they must be followed. Lori Siegelman, CIH, CSP, CHMM has
Read More





W&M Speaks at Seminar for Texas Aggregates and Concrete Association

Heather Woodward, Technical Director for W&M, was a featured speaker at this year’s Texas Aggregate & Concrete Association Environmental and Sustainability Seminar last month in San Antonio, TX.  She spoke on classification and proper disposal of hazardous waste according to RCRA guidelines.  The talk was extremely well received with the attendees of the Seminar.  Eddie Saucedo, TACA Environmental Committee Chairman, commented that “This was the best talk on this subject that we’ve ever had.” The lecture was an abbreviated version of the 8 hour RCRA class that W&M administer throughout the year in Dallas, Houston and San Antonio. Jennifer Adams, Division Manager of the Austin office at W&M Environmental, has worked with the Aggregates and Ready Mix industry for 9 years.  She knows a challenging area that most aggregate and ready mix plants face is the classification and disposal of waste.  “The most common challenge is understanding RCRA rules and classifying
Read More