Nevada's safety and health program is in jeopardy
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has released a report revealing numerous concerns with Nevada's occupational safety and health program, including the program's failure to issue appropriate willful and repeat citations, poorly trained inspectors and lack of follow-up to determine whether hazards have been abated. The program's evaluation suggests an urgent need to correct oversight and change all phases of Nevada's occupational safety and health program.
Between January 2008 and June 2009, 25 construction workers were killed at job sites along the Las Vegas strip. OSHA's investigation was prompted by those deaths, as well as extensive media coverage revealing Nevada OSHA's poor handling of fatality investigations and several complaints filed with OSHA about Nevada's state plan administration.
"The safety of workers must be priority one, and the U.S. Department of Labor is stepping up review of state OSHA plans to ensure that is the case," says U.S. Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis. "I am pleased that Nevada OSHA cooperated fully throughout the evaluation process."
Between July and August 2009, OSHA evaluated Nevada's workplace fatality investigations, as well as information from all Nevada OSHA inspections conducted between January 2008 and June 2009. OSHA found numerous systemic issues that caused concern: Identified hazards were not cited; deceased workers' families were not notified of fatality investigations or provided opportunities to speak with investigators; and Nevada OSHA investigators demonstrated limited knowledge of construction safety hazards.
The details of OSHA's report raised concerns about OSHA's monitoring of all state-run occupational safety and health plans.
Jordan Barab, OSHA's acting assistant secretary of labor, says: "As a result of the deficiencies identified in Nevada OSHA's program and this administration's goal to move from reaction to prevention, we will strengthen the oversight, monitoring and evaluation of all state programs."
Barab also pointed out state plan programs' benefits.
"Many state programs have shown they have the flexibility to deal with workplace hazards that sometimes are not addressed by federal OSHA, and we strongly support their initiative and dedication," he says.
For more information, visit www.osha.gov.
New York starts reflective rooftop initiative
New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Al Gore, former U.S. vice president and founder of the Alliance for Climate Protection, have launched NYC Cool Roofs to mobilize volunteers to coat participating buildings' rooftops with white reflective coatings to reduce cooling costs, energy use and greenhouse gas emissions.
Bloomberg and Gore helped volunteers from NYC Service—an organization launched by Bloomberg in April to meet his pledge for New York to lead the U.S. in answering President Barack Obama's call to service—coat the rooftop of the Long Island City YMCA in Queens. The program began Sept. 24 with volunteers working to coat 100,000 square feet of rooftop space in Long Island City, a neighborhood that exhibits higher temperatures than the citywide average because of the area's large number of industrial rooftops.
The program is being implemented by NYC Service and the Mayor's Office of Operations in partnership with the Community Environmental Center, which will serve as the primary program coordinator, the Long Island City Business Improvement District and Green City Force. Nonprofit organizations, such as Publicolor, are providing support by training volunteers for the program, which is funded by private donations.
NYC Cool Roofs aims to help the city meet its goal of reducing its greenhouse gas emissions 30 percent by 2030.
Program results will be reviewed during the next year, and an online dashboard will be developed at www.nyc.gov so the public can see performance data in real time.
PV systems' prices have dropped drastically
According to Tracking the Sun II: The Installed Cost of Photovoltaics in the U.S. from 1998-2008, a new study released by Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Berkeley, Calif., the average cost of photovoltaic (PV) systems in the U.S. declined by more than 30 percent from 1998 to 2008. During the last year of this period, costs decreased more than 4 percent.
The study examined 52,000 grid-connected PV systems installed between 1998 and 2008 in 16 states. It found that average installed costs, in terms of real 2008 dollars, declined from $10.80 per watt in 1998 to $7.50 per watt in 2008, which is equivalent to an average annual reduction of 30 cents per watt, or 3.6 percent per year in real dollars.
According to the report, the most recent decline in costs primarily is the result of decreased PV module costs.
The report states: "The reduction in installed costs from 2007 to 2008 marks an important departure from the trend of the preceding three years during which costs remained flat as rapidly expanding U.S. and global PV markets put upward pressure on both module prices and nonmodule costs. This dynamic began to shift in 2008 as expanded manufacturing capacity in the solar industry, in combination with the global financial crisis, led to a decline in wholesale module prices."
According to the report, PV system cost reductions from 1998 through 2007 largely were because of a decline in nonmodule costs, such as costs of labor, marketing, overhead, inverters and the balance of systems.
In addition, the study reveals information about differences in PV system costs by region and installation type. The cost reduction over time is largest for smaller PV systems, such as those used to power individual homes. Also, installed costs show significant economies of scale—small residential PV systems completed in 2008 that were less than 2 kilowatts (kW) in size averaged $9.20 per watt while large commercial systems ranging from 500 to 750 kW averaged $6.50 per watt.
The full report is available at eetd.lbl.gov/ea/emp/re-pubs.html.
What is your position within your company?
I am vice president of marketing for Firestone Building Products Co. LLC, Indianapolis.
What was your most unusual roofing project?
The first roof recycling project I was involved with was unique because of the education, preparation and logistics involved with planning for the job. For this particular project, EPDM was recycled; polyisocyanurate insulation was reused; and a new high-performance EPDM roof system was installed. The good news is that as we become more proficient at recycling in our industry, the less unusual this will become.
Why did you become involved with the roofing industry?
I had the good fortune of being recruited by Toledo, Ohio-based Owens Corning and assigned to its Chicago Supply Division where I learned about the roofing industry initially through the distribution side of the business.
What was your first roofing experience?
The first roof I was on was the Minnesota State Capitol during a fourth-grade field trip to see the Golden Statues and a fabulous view of the city. Little did I know I would be involved with so many more rooftops in my life.
What is your favorite aspect of your job?
This job has given me the chance to meet great people all across the country who are dedicated to seeking innovative ways to solve problems, serve customers and build their businesses.
If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go?
When you were a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
Just like my dad who has rock-solid values, a great work ethic and a contagious sense of humor
What do you consider a waste of time?
List three words that best describe you.
Disciplined, dependable and encouraging
What is your biggest pet peeve?
Loud gum chewing drives me nuts!
If you could invite any three people (dead or alive) to dinner, whom would you invite and why?
My wife Sandy, the apostle Paul and Thomas Jefferson so we could have a lively conversation involving my three favorite subjects: family, faith and politics
What is your roofing industry involvement?
I have the privilege to serve as chairman of the board for the Center for Environmental Innovation in Roofing and Polyisocyanurate Insulation Manufacturers Association, and I am on the board of directors for the EPDM Roofing Association.
People would be surprised to know …
I like to play SCRABBLE.®
OSHA initiates new record-keeping program
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is establishing a national emphasis program on record keeping to assess the accuracy of injury and illness data recorded by employers.
The program involves inspecting occupational injury and illness records prepared by businesses and appropriately enforcing regulatory requirements when employers are found to be under-recording injuries and illnesses.
The inspections include reviewing records, interviewing employees, and conducting limited workplace safety and health inspections. The national emphasis program will focus on select industries with high injury and illness rates.
At the request of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions and the House Committee on Education and Labor, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) issued a study regarding the accuracy of employer injury and illness records. The national emphasis program will help OSHA work cooperatively with the GAO and complements the U.S. Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics' (BLS') efforts to investigate reasons for differences between the number of workplace injuries and illnesses estimated by BLS and those estimated by other data sources.
"Accurate and honest record keeping is vitally important to workers' health and safety," says Jordan Barab, OSHA's acting assistant secretary of labor. "This information not only is used by OSHA to determine which workplaces to inspect but is an important tool employers and workers can use to identify health and safety problems in their workplaces."
For more information, visit www.osha.gov.
In addition, OSHA published an advance notice of proposed rulemaking (ANPR) in the Oct. 21 edition of the Federal Register as an initial step toward developing a standard to address combustible dust hazards.
OSHA has been conducting a Combustible Dust National Emphasis Program (NEP) since October 2007; a status report is available on the Combustible Dust Safety and Health Topics page of OSHA's Web site, www.osha.gov.
The NEP has resulted in an unusually high number of General Duty Clause violations, indicating a strong need for a combustible dust standard. The General Duty Clause is not as effective as a comprehensive combustible dust standard would be at protecting workers. Responses to questions posed in the ANPR will help the agency propose an effective combustible dust standard.
Combustible dusts are solids ground into fine particles, fibers, chips, chunks or flakes that can cause fire or explosion when suspended in air under certain conditions. Types of dust likely to combust include metal (aluminum and magnesium), wood, plastic, rubber, coal, flour, sugar and paper.
The public has 90 days to comment on the proposed ANPR. The agency also will conduct stakeholder meetings and analyze all information and comments received from the public in developing a proposed rule regarding combustible dust.
Construction industry could see gains in 2010
In October, The Wall Street Journal reported the U.S. construction industry could experience modest gains during 2010. This partially is because of increased construction of single-family homes, apartment buildings, highways and bridges that could offset reductions in nonresidential construction.
Next year, construction starts are expected to climb 11 percent to $466.2 billion, according to The McGraw-Hill Cos., New York. Construction starts indicate future construction spending and often correlate strongly with actual spending.
The McGraw-Hill Cos.' forecast also indicates single-family housing construction should total $162.2 billion, a 30 percent increase to 560,000 units, provided mortgage rates remain low, the $8,000 tax credit for first-time home buyers is extended and programs intended to ease the foreclosure crisis help homeowners.
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