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HEAT ILLNESS: Preparing-for-Prevention Tips for Painters. Part I

“WATER. REST. SHADE.”

 

Heat illness is very dangerous, even deadly. Especially to workers that are exposed to excessive levels of heat, humidity, sun, and poor air supply/ventilation.

 

According to OSHA, “Employers have the responsibility to provide workplaces that are safe from excessive heat (and humidity).”

 

As painters and decorators, we are our own best advocates in preventing heat illness on the job. We have the responsibility to become “heat illness savvy.” To know our own abilities and limits. To become aware of our teammates’ abilities and limits under the heat. And, to work smart!

 

NOW – during the cooler months – is the time:

 

1. to develop our own plan to prevent and treat on-the-job heat illness symptoms,

2. to determine how to handle our workload during the sustaining hot and humid months/season. In Florida: May through October.

 

NOW is the time to get the facts out about heat illness.

 

1. Talk about the 4 main types, and their symptoms, risks and warning signs, and, safety issues.

2. Publicize the illness locally – both in workplaces and throughout the community.

3. Orient everyone on the team and staff about what to look for. The need to be on the alert.

4. Train team members and staff what to do, when, and how. The need to respond promptly.

5. Commit to on-going heat illness awareness and advocacy at the workplace.

 

HEAT ILLNESS PREVENTION TIPS for PAINTERS

 

1. Know your body.

A. What is your tolerance level to heat, humidity, and sun exposure (direct and indirect)?

B. What are your exertion limits within that tolerance level?

 

2. Know your work environment.

A. What is the highest temperature range in which you must work during the hottest, most humid season? How many hours a day? How many days a week?

B. What is the actual temperature felt by your body? Hint: Add heat index to reported temp..

C. What is the longest period of time during a work day, that you must work continuously in that actual temperature? Example: 4 hours.

D. How many days during a week must you work continuously in the actual temperature?

E. What is the clean-air and ventilation level in your work area(s) on a continual basis? Rate it: excellent, good, fair, poor.

 

3. Know your job’s physical demands.

A. How many hours a day, in hot and humid conditions, must you exert yourself physically and continuously? How many days a week?

B. At how fast of a pace must you do your work? Rate: Very slowly-to-very fast.

C. For how long a period must you keep up that pace? Example: 45 minutes; Example: 2 hours.

D. How many breaks do you get, ordinarily, during your workday? Example: 2.

1) At what times, other than lunch, are you given scheduled breaks? No. of minutes? Where?

2) How many additional breaks are you allowed during workdays in hot, humid conditions?

3) How often can you take a break when hot and humid conditions exceed your tolerance level?

 

4. Know your physical limits in meeting the physical demands of the job.

A. How many pounds can you lift, carry or move at once, under mild weather conditions?

1) How many pounds under hot and humid conditions, without experiencing any symptoms?

2) Do you need to use a cart or other conveyance piece of equipment to move, carry or lift

B. How long can you climb and stand on a ladder under mild weather conditions?

1)How long under hot and humid conditions, without experiencing any symptoms?

C. How long and often can you bend/stoop/crouch within one hour, under mild conditions?

1) How long and often can you can do these, under hot and humid conditions? No symptoms?

D. How long can you stand and how far can you walk without resting, in mild conditions?

1) How long can you hold or carry anything that weighs your “pound limit,” without symptoms?

2) How long and how far under hot, humid conditions? Without experiencing symptoms?

 

5. Know what your first heat illness symptoms may be.

A. What have been your first heat illness symptoms in the past? List them on card; put in wallet.

B. How long had you been working in hot and humid conditions before any symptoms hit you?

C. What medical conditions do you have that could cause or trigger heat illness symptoms?

D. What medications do you take that could cause or trigger heat illness symptoms? Include over-the-counter products – eg. antihistamines, aspirins, nasal sprays.

 

Do you have a low tolerance level to hot-humid-poor ventilation environmental conditions?

 

If so, may I suggest…

1. Get checked out by your physician. Also, “Complete Metabolic Panel” and basic blood tests.

2. Avoid hot, humid, poorly ventilated, and intense full sun.

3. Work in cooler, shaded areas when extreme hot/humid conditions do exist in other areas.

4. Do not allow yourself to be placed in any situation that might cause, trigger and/or exacerbate your susceptibility to suffering heat illness symptoms.

 

READ: “Heat Illness: Special Work Day Life-Saving Prevention Tips for Painters. Part II”

 

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Save a life from heat illness. Teammate, boss, guest, visitor. Yours!

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 May you and yours enjoy a healthy, fulfilling and safe 2016.

And, thank you for visiting “Painting with Bob.”

Copyright 2016. Robert D. Hajtovik. All rights reserved.

A Painter’s View of Mold and Mildew: Part II

In many parts of the Southeastern region of the U. S., the long high-temperature and high-humidity season brings much more than natural disasters such as tornadoes and hurricanes. Opening in May, the five-to-six month season brings environmental conditions that make it ripe for black mold (Stachybotrys chararum) infestation, and mildew buildup.

Its toxic spores cover surfaces in minutes, and move inside wall spaces within hours. Particularly vulnerable are rooms and areas where moisture collects, air circulates or ventilates improperly, and water fails to drain completely.

The toxic fungi harbors, often hidden, long before you see its black or slimy green signs on surfaces such as walls, ceilings, furniture, cabinetry, carpet, etc. However, one of its earliest signs is an odd musty smell in the air.

Buildings in areas ravaged by very heavy rains, floods, hurricanes, even tornadoes, and earthquakes readily succumb to massive fungi buildups. Often so severe that the structures must be destroyed and every part of it removed. By HAZMAT (hazardous materials) teams trained and certified for the job.

The fungi infiltration can cause property owners and occupants great expense, inconvenience, and damage. It can cause health and safety risks to both humans and animals. It can necessitate the closing down of a business. It can lead to the sealing off of an entire building, even the demolition of a once-valuable piece of property.

In the Hospitality Industry – eg. hotels, motels, it can create special challenges. Especially with buildings and structures that are older, or have environmental issues. Structures designed with poor ventilation, drainage and piping systems. Structures built with extremely porous materials.

One problem occurs with rooms that are equipped with window air conditioners. Guests tend to turn off the units when they leave for the day, or check out. Just like they might at home, to conserve energy. The temperature rises in the sealed, unventilated room. The humidity builds up.

Sometimes, the fungi may have been “residing” already in inconspicuous spots, or inside the walls. And/or, it has built up, over days, when guests have requested reduced maid service during stays. By the time housekeepers are able to drop off fresh towels and remove damp/wet bath linens, tiny black or slimy green spores may have moved into the area. Prompt attention is called for.

Whatever the situation, the mitigation (reduction) and remediation (counteracting, removal) of the black mold and mildew requires vigilance, care and teamwork. It requires housekeeping and maintenance staffs to work together, during the entire, to keep ahead of the build-ups.

Similar scenarios play out in many other structures – eg. office buildings, hospitals, assisted living facilities, schools, restaurants, laundry/dry cleaners, stores, storage units. In buildings and areas occupied by the same persons, repeatedly and for longer periods of time, exposure to mold and mildew can be especially toxic and harmful.

Your home can be just as, if not more, susceptible to mold and mildew contamination. Every surface and area can serve as a host for those black fungal spores. Every person that lives or visits the home can be exposed to the toxic spores, as they emit into the atmosphere, or cling to anything they can. Every person (and animal) has the potential to develop respiratory and lung diseases, certain cancers, skin disease, vision problems, brain disorders, even reproductive damage. In the home, buildups of black mold and mildew tend to be very dangerous.

The length and frequency of human exposure to the fungi tends to be much longer, and repetitive. Infiltration, infestation, or contamination tends to be greater, and the coverage denser. After all, home is where you (and your family members) usually sleep, eat, bathe, study, watch television, work at the computer, launder, etc. It’s where you “house” the clothes you wear, the bed and bath linens that touch your skin, beauty/skin/hygiene products you use, the small appliances, computers and hand-held electronics you operate, the papers and documents you file and store.

Professional painters that work in mold and mildew prone regions of the country pay close attention to this problem. Their first concern is for the persons that live, work, or visit in and around these buildings and areas. Experienced painters know that these persons are at higher risk of developing adverse reactions and both short-term and long-term health and safety challenges. They know that continuous exposure to black mold spores can lead to toxic poisoning.

Their second concern is trade-related. Paint, varnish, wallcovering, texturing, and custom decorating products or materials do not adhere well to contaminated surfaces. Quality results and durability cannot be guaranteed. No guarantees mean no happy customers.

A third concern is compliance. More experienced, journey-level painters possess extensive knowledge of chemicals, toxic contaminants and compounds, hazardous materials, and environmental hazards. Most are certified in two or more of the following areas:

  1. government, health and safety standards (eg. OSHA, EPA, ADA);
  2. manufacturer product handling, storage and disposal standards (MSDS, SSPC);
  3. hazardous materials handling (HAZMAT);
  4. painting trade procedures and standards (IUPAT, HAZWOPR);
  5. construction industry (UBC, asbestos).

Some painters, especially industrial, are getting trained and certified in areas related to the Toxic Substance Control Act (TSCA), under the EPA. Some are taking the certification program offered through the Society of Chemical Manufacturers (SOCM).

Professional painters accept and understand that thorough mitigation and remediation of toxic black mold and mildew, before prepping surfaces for finishing, is essential. It must be done right. It must be done in a healthy and safe manner.

That’s one reason why many painters turn over the mitigation and remediation of major and/or dense black mold and mildew buildups to professionals. These persons have been trained and licensed as mold mitigation and remediation specialists (MRSP).

Yes, using professional remediators adds to the cost of the painting/finishing project. In the long run, however, it protects everyone from unnecessary exposure and harm. The property occupants, visitors, painters, other craftspersons, etc. An added benefit: the post-treatment inspection – a part of the remediation contract – helps to ensure that the building is safe to use in the future.

Bottom line: Black mold and mildew must be removed. Persons, as well as pets, must be protected from suffering adverse reactions, and developing short-term and long-term medical conditions.

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