JaniTek Newsletter – August 2016
Articles in the issue
Green Cleaning and GS-42 Certification
Green cleaning seems to be the most rapidly growing trend in cleaning that is catching on all over the country. With the multitude of benefits green cleaning brings, it’s no wonder this concept has caught on so quickly. In fact, there is now an official Green Seal certification (GS-42) that can be designated to cleaning services and products. In order to be GS-42 certified, they must first go through a rigorous testing process and must be able to meet the strict criteria set forth by the independent, non-profit organization Green Seal.
However, some people are still confused about what exactly green cleaning is and what it encompasses. For starters, green cleaning is a process that takes a holistic approach toward cleaning. Its aim is to use environmentally-friendly cleaning products and methods that help conserve both human health and the environment. Avoiding toxic chemicals that cause harmful effects in both humans and the environment is a must. However, simply replacing all of the cleaning products you use with non-toxic, environmentally-friendly products does not mean you are actually practicing green cleaning.
The official GS-42 standard for green cleaning looks at several things in addition to the actual products used in cleaning. For one, there must be a building-specific cleaning plan in place with official standard operating procedures for all cleaning processes. There must also be satisfactory communication practices and labeling requirements put in place. Additional procedures to help reduce waste and recycle must also be part of the program. Lastly, comprehensive training must be given to every employee starting with 12 hours of initial training followed by 24 hours of ongoing training in addition to site-specific training.
Although it may seem like a lot of things to do in order to become certified, being GS-42 certified has many benefits. Included amongst these benefits, is satisfying prerequisites to become LEED certified. The GS-42 certification sets the bar very high for green cleaning so having this certification means a lot. Overall, adopting green cleaning practices like those that meet GS-42 standards can result in better indoor air quality, healthier home occupants, and less toxic waste in landfills and in homes.
Top 10 OSHA Violations
When the most recent list of the Top 10 most frequently cited workplace safety violations was released by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) it didn’t have any drastic changes from the previous year’s list, an occurrence that shocked no one. Year after year, the same categories continue to pop up on the list which is a cause for concern as many of the violations can be easily prevented. However, the good news is that the total number of incidents was down 4.5% from 2014 and 11% from 2013. The list is as follows:
1) Fall Protection- The top violation for the fifth year running boasts a grand total of 7,402 violations.
2) Hazard Communication- With a total of 5,681 citations, this violation continues to be the second most cited violation for the fourth year in a row despite having a decline of almost 20% because of new HazCom chemical labeling rules.
3) Scaffolding- Although there was a 6% decrease from 2014, with a total of 4,681 citations, scaffolding still remains the third most cited violation. For the most part, these violations fall under construction scaffolding and in providing enough guard railing or simply making sure there are no holes on the actual scaffold platforms which can present a serious risk for workers.
4) Respiratory Protection- There were 3,626 total respiratory violations in 2015. With nearly 5 million workers required to wear respirators in about 1.3 million workplaces, it is always important to make sure proper safety rules are being followed.
5) Lockout/Tagout- Nearly 3 million workers are at risk on a daily basis with 3,308 citations having occurred in 2015.
6) Powered Industrial Trucks- With 3,004 citations, this category includes not just trucks but other vehicles such as forklifts and even powered pallet jacks. Improper operator training and unsafe truck conditions account for many of the citations.
7) Ladders- There were 2,732 citations involving what most people would consider a simple piece of equipment, a ladder, yet it was still the seventh most cited violation.
8) Electrical, Wiring Methods- 2,624 citations occurred involving electrical wiring methods with common infractions being using temporary wiring in place of permanent wiring and running flexible cords or cables through wall/ceiling holes even when allowed because it is in direct violation of OSHA standards.
9) Machine Guarding- Falling ninth on the list with 2,540 citations, safeguarding moving machine parts is not to be taken lightly with the possibility of crushed body parts, blindness, amputations, and burns being a reality.
10) Electrical, General Requirements- The last most common violation includes 2,181 citations and is quite deadly with electrical hazards being the second-leading cause of death in the construction industry.
OSHA’s Revised Hazard Communication Standard
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has revised its Hazard Communication Standard (HCS) to bring it into alignment with the United Nations’ Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals (GHS). The revision will provide a consistent and unified method of organizing chemicals into classifications and communicating hazard information on labels and safety data sheets. The changes will make labeling more clear and understandable for workers hopefully resulting in increased awareness of hazards and safer handling of hazardous chemicals.
Additionally, these changes will transition the previous HCS from a performance-oriented standard where labels and material safety data sheets were formatted into whatever format a company chose, into one where the labeling of chemicals follows a specified, previously-approved structure. Other benefits of the new HCS include reduced costs and trade barriers for American businesses that are involved in using, handling, or storing hazardous chemicals and must regularly update or alter their labels and safety data sheets.
Under the new revised standard, safety data sheets must now use a specified 16-section format providing detailed and complete information on a chemical. However, the most significant changes to the HCS have to do with new labeling standards. Chemical manufacturers, importers, and distributors will now be forced to label each container of hazardous chemicals with labels containing specific required information. Labels will now be required to display a harmonized signal word, a pictogram, a hazard statement for each hazard class and category, and finally a precautionary statement. They must also provide instructions on the handling of the chemical so that workers know how to protect themselves. The only other information required on a label under the new standard, which was also required under the old standard, is a product identifier (i.e. chemical name or code number) and the name, address, and telephone number of the responsible party. Supplementary information such as expiration dates or other information the label producer deems important or useful may also be added under a “supplementary” category if desired.
Overall, the new standard introduced by OSHA is set to improve the classification and labeling of hazardous chemicals. This more harmonized approach will undoubtedly provide further improvement to many American workplaces and increase safety.