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By Kara MacSwain, TSI
The 2019 NEBB Annual Conference (the international certification association for HVAC/TAB firms that deliver high performance building systems) took place on April 4-6, in San Antonio, Texas. Situated in the heart of the famous San Antonio River Walk, water wasn’t the only thing flowing at the conference – there was a wealth of knowledge streaming around, too.
In a technical session presented by Donald Long, a Certified Safety Professional (CSP) with Southwest Research Institute, he pointed out how crucial it is that both NEBB contractors and the companies who hire them must follow safety procedures and programs while on the job.
There are more than 25 different areas where the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requires employers have a formal safety program in place. Examples include: a hazard communication, a chemical hygiene plan, an emergency action plan, and ladder safety, to name a few.
When a contractor does work for a company, it becomes a “multi-employer workplace.” If dangerous chemicals are on the property, that company owes the contractor a list of hazardous materials. The communication needs to be in writing, containing labels and other forms of warming, safety data sheets, and employee information and training.
Chemical hygiene plans apply mainly to chemical labs. Companies with chemical labs must provide a written program stating policies, responsibilities and procedures to protect workers from health hazards associated with the dangerous chemicals used in that particular workplace.
For contractors who are working at an unfamiliar site, imagine the panic that can arise when an alarm suddenly goes off. An emergency action plan must also be kept in the workplace and available for employees and contractors to review. Understanding exactly what the alarm means, and being made aware of the exit strategy can help ensure everyone stays safe.
On the flipside, contractors are also required to complete jobs in a safe and professional manner, while staying in compliance with regulations. The companies who hire contractors are relying on these individuals’ expertise of ventilation and fume hood systems, in order to keep their buildings running properly, keeping their employees safe.
Following safety procedures and supplying the proper documentation could mean the difference between life or death in certain situations. Ultimately, practicing safe habits is up to each individual to carry out, but workplace safety is a shared responsibility. Everyone has a role to play to keep themselves and their workplaces safe and healthy.
We can’t wait to see our friends and customers at the next NEBB event!