Safety: The Opposite of Terror

Colan Holmes - Thursday, September 11, 2014
Disasters are defined by a swift change from certainty to uncertainty, coupled with a spike in the risk of harm. They result in people feeling a loss of control over their well-being, threat of harm, and terror.

The opposite of terror is safety. Professional safety practice includes precautions taken in disaster response, the emergency response plan providing certainty, the application of best practices and use of safety equipment reducing harm.

After the 9/11 terror attacks many Certified Safety Professionals (CSP) arrived at Ground Zero, an environment containing hazards that included persistent concrete dust, loose glass at a height of 50 stories, and subsurface heat measuring from 400-2,800 degrees Fahrenheit. These safety professionals acted quickly to distribute personal protective equipment (PPE), zone sections of the site, and establish a credentialing system to account for all involved in the clean up effort. They played an important role in minimizing harm and eliminating terror.

One can never be quite sure when disasters may occur, but it is always possible to be prepared. Gain the latest emergency preparedness knowledge by visiting the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health's (NIOSH) new Emergency Preparedness and Response Resources webpage, make sure your organization's emergency response plan is understood, and join us in saving lives everyday by advancing the safety profession.

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A Few Words on the Value of Certification

Colan Holmes - Wednesday, August 27, 2014
In a recent survey BCSP's CET certificants were asked to describe, in one word, the value of certification. The results were used to develop the following word cloud, where the size of each word corresponds to the number of times BCSP recieved it as a response.

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Welcome, Future Safety Leaders

Colan Holmes - Wednesday, August 20, 2014
Classes are about to begin for many safety, health and environmental (SH&E) students, presenting new opportunities to gain greater knowledge and start building experience. The Board of Certified Safety Professionals (BCSP) supports these students' efforts to join the next generation of safety professionals.

If you are a student member of the American Society of Safety Engineers (ASSE) we hope to meet you at the Future Safety Leaders Conference this November 6-7, 2014. If you would like to attend, remember that the deadline for applications is September 9, 2014.

In addition to seeing you at upcoming conferences, we invite SH&E students, Graduate Safety Professionals (GSP), and professors to share news in the Collegiate eNewsletter and on our social media.

Welcome, future safety leaders. Make the best of this year and even better will follow.

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CHST and Son Uphold Safety Ethics

Colan Holmes - Wednesday, June 25, 2014
Robert Slocomb, one of our Construction Health and Safety Technicians® (CHST), was recently joined by his son in protecting the safety, health and environment of their community. His son encountered some environmentally unsound business practices and took initiative in the matter. Slocomb shared the following story with BCSP.

Duty Bound and More

Fresh out of high school, our son was looking to start a career in the trades. We didn't know it, but the plumbing company he started with was a 'night and day company'; that is, they market one way and then act the polar opposite behind closed doors.

The revealing moment came the Friday of his first week, when he and another young man were sent to a secure storage yard to rake leaves. After four days our son was pretty disenchanted with this company and he planned to give notice. “They're not doing it right, and they're really unsafe.”

I should share that I'm a Construction Health and Safety Technician (CHST) certified by the Board of Certified Safety Professionals. His mother and I had spent a week of dinners listening to our son's complaints about this firm's business practices. We were pleased he'd decided to quit.

The secure storage yard contained the firm's septic pump-out tanker, an underground waste bunker, and ten portable toilets. It fronted a road, storefront, and two occupied apartments. Surrounding the fences were scrub trees. And most importantly, thirty feet down-grade was a private lake that fed the town's fishing pond, as well as sizable wetlands further along.

The owner had ordered the boys to rake leaves onto a large “mulch pile” inside the yard, between the pump-out truck and the building's back wall. Seeing it, our son immediately got suspicious. “That pile doesn't look or smell right”, he told his co-worker. The boy said he'd raked leaves over the pile before, and had always wondered what it was. After ten minutes of raking leaves up onto it our son announced that he was certain the pile wasn't mulch, but human waste.

That afternoon our son quit his job. Over the weekend, the three of us visited a public parking area fifty feet above the storage yard to have a good look at this pile for ourselves. We shot photos through the trees, zooming in. One thing our son said banged in my brain: “There's not much odor.” We all know human waste stinks, and yet the color was much too dark...

I Googled the chemicals in portable toilets. It turns out that a main ingredient used in the mix is formaldehyde. Formaldehyde kills bacteria. Had there been bacteria in the pile they would have been eating the waste, off-gassing and making a huge, detectable stink. The strange dark color was the result of the blue dye used in toilet chemicals.

That Monday I sent an email to our state's Department of the Environment. I proudly gave details of what our son found, attaching pictures as evidence. Our complaint was then referred to the county jurisdiction where a sanitarian picked it up. For some reason the county people didn't seem convinced we were genuine. But I remained dogged, so eventually the state sanitarian went over, demanding access to the firm's secure yard.

In talking to the sanitarian, I added information on the pile's lack of odor and odd dark color, saying that I was sure formaldehyde was present in the toilet chemicals and that, left out in the open as it was, the seepage threatened a lake, pond, and wetlands downgrade. To my disappointment, the sanitarian told me he left the yard without taking any kind of physical sample from the pile.

Reading the sanitarian's record of this visit, I discovered that he wrote: “We inspected the yard. We saw human waste, dark colors.” Translation: the sanitarian knew what he was looking at and communicated this to the owner. No sampling was needed because, within a day, the owner called to confess that, indeed, the pile was raw sewage from toilet pump-outs. It turns out he'd been dumping it there for years; ever since his illegal in-ground bunkers were topped off.

“Your activity creates a condition which is detrimental to human health,” reads the Bureau's letter. “Failure to correct these... may lead to civil and criminal prosecution.” The owner, it adds, “was knowingly causing pollution of ground surface [and] state waters.” On closer scrutiny, they found septic pump-out trucks that hadn't been inspected in six years, an underground waste bunker that was built without a permit, and a large exposed mound of formaldehyde-laden human waste 6 feet high, not counting tons of human waste in the bunkers.

The firm was ordered to dispose of it all at the waste treatment plant, fill in the illegal bunkers with concrete, and they pulled the firm's waste-hauling license for an unspecified period. The family who owned the private lake next door was notified that formaldehyde was leeching into their lake, and testing was suggested. Formaldehyde is listed as a carcinogen by the EPA and IARC. Apparently, chemicals and sewage from the firm's waste pile had been polluting the down-grade lake, pond, and wetlands for years.

In sum, I'm proud of what our son did and how he handled himself in this matter. As for me, I wonder how duty-bound I might have felt adhering to this code of ethics to, above all, “Hold paramount the safety and health of people, [and] the protection of the environment and property...” had I not become a CHST, certified by the Board of Certified Safety Professionals.

Author Robert Slocomb CHST is a Safety Engineer with PC Construction, currently building a state-of-the-art Cambi Digester System at Blue Plains Water Treatment Plant, Washington, DC.

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Support the National Safety Stand-Down

Colan Holmes - Tuesday, June 03, 2014
To bring attention to fall hazards in construction, companies are planning "stand-downs" in which they break to discuss the prevention of falls this week, June 2-6, 2014. Fatalities caused by falls are the leading cause of death for construction workers, accounting for 269 of the 775 construction fatalities recorded in 2012.

Information on conducting a safety stand down can be found on the campaign's OSHA webpage, which suggests toolbox talks on fall prevention, the inspection of safety equipment, and a number of other activities. The campaign website states a goal of having 500,000 workers participate, yet on June 2 OSHA reported that 1 million workers will be reached, nearly 1 of every 5 construction workers in the US.

OSHA is partnering with key groups to assist with this effort, including the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), OSHA approved State Plans, State consultation programs, the Center for Construction Research and Training (CPWR), the American Society of Safety Engineers (ASSE), the National Safety Council, and the OSHA Training Institute (OTI) Education Centers.

We encourage our certificants to participate.

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New PowerPoint an Impressive Presentation of Safety Certifications

Colan Holmes - Wednesday, April 30, 2014
Check out the new, downloadable PowerPoint on BCSP safety certifications, available for your professional safety advocacy, presentations you may do for Recertification Points, or leadership in promotion of colleagues' professional development.

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BCSP Self-Assessment Examinations Test Your Knowledge

Colan Holmes - Wednesday, April 23, 2014
BCSP offers self-assessment exams as a way for individuals to better evaluate their strengths and weaknesses as they prepare for a certification examination. The self-assessments are constructed so that candidates can discover their knowledge in specific domain and subject areas, compare scores, and adjust their study accordingly.

There are self-assessments available for each BCSP certification, with a new self-assessment recently developed for SH&E professionals who would like to know how they may fare on the Certified Environmental, Safety and Health Trainer® (CET) examination. Each self-assessment exam is a hard copy publication.

Self-assessments can be ordered via the self-assessment brochure.

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Check, Double-Check Your Knowledge at International System Safety Training Symposium

Colan Holmes - Wednesday, April 09, 2014
The International System Safety Society (ISSS) is hosting its annual training symposium in St. Louis this August 4-8, 2014. The 2014 International System Safety Training Symposium (ISSTS) brings together the latest knowledge in safety processes from around the world, allowing attendees to exchange tools and knowledge.

This year's ISSTS will include contributions from a variety of domains including aerospace, automotive, defense, health care, rail transportation, robotics, critical infrastructure systems, industrial control systems, and academia. BCSP certificants have consistently been well represented at the event, which provides a wealth of knowledge in design-based safety.

More information on the ISSTS can be found on the symposium website.

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New ASSE Employer's Guide to Hiring a Safety Professional

Colan Holmes - Tuesday, March 11, 2014
The ASSE Guide to Hiring the Right Occupational Safety and Health Professional is a helpful tool for HR professionals, safety managers, and anyone looking to hire quality safety personnel.

The guide features:

» Tips on what to look for in the hiring process
» Qualifications desirable for a range of positions
» Frequently asked questions
» A guide to interviewing safety professionals

The information is provided to ensure the quality of organizations' safety practitioners. You may download the guide, and sharing it is encouraged.

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Safety Trained Supervisor Sponsors Certify Over Five Thousand Persons

Colan Holmes - Wednesday, February 26, 2014
Safety Trained Supervisor (STS) Sponsors certified the safety skills of over 750 of their employees in 2013, raising the number of current STS certificants who benefited from company sponsorship to over 5,000 persons.

Organizations which refer five or more people to the STS are eligible to join the STS Sponsorship Program. STS Sponsors partner with BCSP in the promotion of sound SH&E practice, and are recognized for their advocacy as Participating, Ruby, Emerald, and Diamond Sponsors based on the number of STS certificants they employ in a given year.

The growth of the program in 2013 was phenomenal. Two new sponsors, Idaho Power Company and PCL Construction Enterprises, made an amazing effort to reach the Ruby and Emerald classes of sponsorship in their first year of participation. Idaho Power Company referred 31 new STS certificants and PCL Construction Enterprises 55 new STS certificants.

The latest information on all STS Sponsors and the contributions they have made to strengthening supervisory safety practice can be found on the STS Sponsorship Program webpage.

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