Planning for Hazardous Materials Before Renovation or Demolition Projects

tylerDo you have an upcoming renovation or demolition project on your schedule? For building owners and contractors, it is important to remember that building materials may contain hazardous toxins that may require specific handling, removal and disposal methods. Construction materials that are commonly encountered on the job site that may require specific care and disposal are:




Asbestos can be a cancerous causing substance that can cause numerous diseases and health concerns. It is a fibrous material that is still used today in several building materials because of its superior strength and excellent insulating properties. It can be found in adhesives, caulks, electrical panels, drywall, fireproofing, flooring tiles, insulation, paints, plaster, and exterior roofing materials. A licensed asbestos inspector can help you sample and identify asbestos containing material (ACM) on your project site. It is recommended for a single family homes and multi-family units (2-4 units) and required for any building undergoing a controlled fire exercise, multi-family units (larger than 5 units), commercial, and industrial buildings that inspections and all friable ACM is removed before work starts.  


Chlorofluorocarbons and Halons (CFCs)


CFCs contribute towards a loss in ozone which increases our chances of exposure from the sun’s Ultraviolet rays (UV). This increase the chance for skin, eye, and immune system concerns. CFCs are commonly found in bubblers, cooling units, heat pumps, and refrigeration appliances. Halrons are used in fire extinguishing devices. A project site walkthrough before demolition or renovation can help you identify CFC and Halron containing units.




Lead is commonly found in pre 1978 residential, commercial, and industrial exterior and interior paints. Lead can also be found in emergency lighting units. If lead is ingested and inhaled, it cause serious neurological and internal organ concerns. A licensed inspector can help sample and identify lead containing substances on your project site. Remember many buildings contain several layers and coats of paint.




Mercury is contained in several pressure and temperature monitoring devices. It can also be found in agricultural, dental, and electrical devices.  When exposed to an outside environment, Mercury slowly vaporizes which releases dangerous vapors that can go unnoticed by building owners and contractors. The harmful vapors can lead to several neurological and birth defects.


Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs)


PCBs are a cancer causing substance that can be found in caulk, electrical equipment, oils, and specialty paints. An environmental consultant can help you sample and identify PCB containing material on your project site. Labeling PCB containing materials before renovation or demolition can help limit the chance of exposure and contamination.


Performing a site walk through with an environmental consultant can help identify and ensure proper disposal of any hazardous materials that may exist on your project site. Collecting an inventory and gaining an understanding of all building materials on your project site can  help ensure hazardous materials do not impact public safety and the environment during your renovation or demolition project.


More information on handling hazardous materials before your renovation and demolition project can be found at:

Preventing Heat Illness During the Summer Months

12Are you prepared for the summer heat? Every year workers become sick on the job from exposure to heat and hot environments. From 2008-2013, OSHA reported 105 fatalities related to heat exposure on the job. The hotter the weather, the higher the risk to heat-related illnesses. These injuries can be avoided with some knowledge of what causes these injuries and what employers can do to help protect their employees from these injuries.

The key to preventing these injuries is to understand what heat illnesses are and what causes them. Heat is generated from two sources, (1) the environmental conditions in the work area, and (2) the internal heat generated by the body due to physical activity. When the body loses its ability to release this heat (sweating), the signs and symptoms of heat-related illnesses start to appear. This can be caused by the temperature, humidity, age, obesity, poor circulation, high blood pressure, medication and alcohol. Sweating results in the body losing salt and minerals, which need to be replaced to prevent the body from suffering from heat-related illnesses.

Heat-related illnesses include:

  • Heat rash – your skin excessively sweats and gets irritated
  • Heat cramps – muscle spasms and/or pains that occur during physical activity
  • Heat exhaustion – sweating heavily, dizzy, skin pales, headache, nausea, your breathing increases, and you have a weak but fast pulse
  • Heat stroke – very high body temperature (above 103 degrees F, orally), red, hot, dry skin, quick pulse, confusion, seizures and unconsciousness

Treatment of heat-related illnesses includes:

  • Heat rash – Remove your body from the heat, move to a cooler, less humid area, keep the area dry and apply a dusting powder
  • Heat cramps – stop work activity, get out of the heat and move to a cooler location, drink clear juice or a sports beverage, and rest until the cramps go away
  • Heat exhaustion – stop work activity, get out of the heat and move to a cooler location, remove outer clothing, spray water mist on the skin, offer small amounts of water, then call or get the person medical attention
  • Heat stroke – get the person to a shady area, call 911, cool the body with water and then fan the person until medical personnel arrive, DO NOT give fluids and turn the person on their side if they begin to vomit

Because the above illnesses are preventable, the following are some actions that can be taken when the temperature, humidity or hot work environment cannot be avoided:

  • Drink plenty of fluids throughout the day (2-4 glasses of cool fluids each hour) – fluids include water and sports drinks – DO NOT drink alcohol, soda or drinks with caffeine
  • Take plenty of rest breaks in the shade or air-conditioned area
  • Wear sunscreen
  • Gradually increase workloads to acclimate yourself to the heat
  • Wear light, breathable clothing and a hat
  • Know the signs the heat-related illnesses and stop working if they occur
  • Watch co-workers for signs and symptoms of heat-related illnesses
  • Work during the cooler parts of the day if possible
  • Start work earlier and end earlier
  • Develop a Heat Prevention Program for the workplace

The Heat Index

The heat index is the meteorological method of measuring how hot it feels by combining the use of the relative humidity and the actual air temperature. These levels can increase by as much as 15 degrees F when exposed to direct sunlight and strong winds. The following Heat Index Chart, published by the National Weather Service, shows the heat index using the humidity and temperature. This chart can be used by employers to develop their Heat Prevention Programs to protect their employees from heat-related illnesses.3

Protect Your Family

These same procedures can be used to protect your family during the summer months and remember “never leave children, pets or disabled persons in a parked vehicle or an area with improper ventilation.

Environmental Management Systems (EMS) and Wisconsin’s Green Tier Program

isoSince the 1970s, there have been significant advancements in environmental policy and regulations from the EPA and States.  These policies and regulations have set a minimal standard for pollution prevention including waste management and improving air and water quality.

In 1996, the ISO 14001 Environmental Management Standard (EMS) was first published, setting the framework and foundation for companies that wanted to go beyond just meeting regulatory requirements.

Benefits of a successful EMS include:

  • A benchmark for environmental improvement
  • Effective control of processes by management
  • Self-evaluation by the organization
  • Reduce operating costs and liabilities
  • Identify weaker areas of the environmental system for improvement
  • Employee involvement and ownership of processes
  • Employees are proven competent in their tasks
  • Increased customer and community confidence
  • Drives continual improvement of technology

Places all legal requirements under an operating management system. Specific to Wisconsin, the Green Tier law was originally signed into legislation in 2004. The purpose of the Green Tier law was to provide companies the opportunity to go beyond compliance and pursue environmental initiatives that are not possible under traditional regulations. Companies participating in Wisconsin’s Green Tier program build a EMS following the clauses within ISO 14001; however, are not required to become an ISO 14001-certified company.

Environmental Management Systems, either certified through ISO 14001 or under Wisconsin’s Green Tier program, make good business sense for most companies. Resulting benefits include meeting customer directives, employee participation, streamlining compliance, and continuous improvements. Information on Wisconsin’s Green Tier program can be found at

The framework of an EMS is built on the Plan, Do, Check, Act Cycle. Elements of the program include developing Environmental Policy, identifying Environmental Aspects, setting Objectives & Targets, evaluation of program (audits), continuous improvement, communication and management support.

Read Your Permits

title VA manufacturing operation generally requires several environmental permits in order to legally operate. These permits may be for wastewater, storm water, and/or air discharges associated with its operations. Each of these permits will detail the specific requirements needed to maintain compliance with the associated discharges. It is extremely important that each permit is thoroughly reviewed to understand these legal requirements. Unfortunately a defense of not reading your permit will not withstand the scrutiny of your State, Federal or Local compliance or enforcement manager.

Most permits can be reviewed in an hour or less depending on the complexity of the facility. A more complex facility that has Title V permit may require a longer period of time to review. If there are sections of the permit that are difficult to understand do not be afraid to ask questions from your regulatory compliance manager or environmental consultant. Your lack of understanding the permit requirements are also not a proper defense to noncompliance.

Some of the facility permits will last several years before reissuance is required. We recommend that not only do you review the permit upon issuance but also annually to ensure continuing compliance. With that said constructing a compliance calendar with the facility’s permit requirements is an invaluable tool to help reduce liability and increase permit compliance.

How to Properly Manage Potential Household Hazardous Materials

As the weather warms up and summer is right around the corner, many people are cleaning out garages, getting lawn equipment ready, and tending to landscaping. Generating waste from these activities can be difficult to dispose of if you don’t know how to properly manage them. For those living in Brown County and all of Northeast Wisconsin, Brown County Port & Solid Waste has a household hazardous waste management program. The information below is provided by Brown County Port & Solid Waste for residents.

There are a lot of household products that contain hazardous materials. Disposing of them incorrectly could cause damage to the environment and harm to humans. Below is a guide to help you identify hazardous materials in your home.


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Images courtesy of Household Hazardous Waste Management form.


For additional information please see the following PDF provided by Brown County Recycling.



RoadCheck 2014…Are You Prepared? June 3-5

1Each year the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance (CVSA) conducts an Inspection Blitz of buses and trucks. A not-for-profit, international organization, the CVSA comprises safety officials from local, territorial, state, and federal governments with professionals in industry from the USA, Mexico, and Canada. Their mission is to help improve the security and safety of commercial motor vehicles through leadership and in enforcement of its policies.

This targeted inspection is conducted over a 72 hour time period in the United States, Canada and Mexico. Certified inspectors from several government and international agencies conduct compliance, enforcement and educational initiatives targeted at drivers, commercial motor vehicles and cargo securement. Each year the focus is on a different safety or security regulations such as brakes, cargo securement, driver medical status, drug & alcohol enforcement, etc.

This year the inspections will take place from Tuesday, June 3rd to Thursday, June 5th throughout North America. In 2013, 73,023 trucks and buses were inspected with 22.4% of trucks and 3.9% of drivers being placed out of service. This was a historically low percentage.

2013 Road Statistics:

– There were 73,023 buses and trucks inspected

-Of those, there were 47,771 Level 1 inspections

-Out of 47,771 inspections, 24.1% had OOS violations.

-71,630 drivers were inspected.

-Of the total number of drivers inspected, 4.3% had OOS violations.

– There were also 899 seatbelt violations.

As professional truckers, we all want to do our best to be safe and secure, so let’s mark your calendars, inform your drivers, dispatchers, mechanics, safety personnel and others involved to be prepared during this 72 hour period. The following are the things that the company and the drivers can do to be prepared:

  1. Make sure that all vehicles are properly maintained and have proof of the Annual Inspection.
  2. Make sure that all lights illuminate and that brakes and tires are within the standards.
  3. Make sure that all registration, insurance, permits, etc. are available for inspection.
  4. Drivers should conduct both pre and post trip inspections daily.
  5. Vehicles shall be clean inside and outside (Cleanliness Pays).
  6. Drivers need to keep current log books and within the hours-of-service regulations. Don’t forget the 30 minute break.
  7. Drivers must have a current medical card and commercial driver’s license (CDL).
  8. Drivers must always wear their seatbelts.
  9. Make sure that all cargo is secured properly to prevent shifting.
  10. Be professional, courteous, maintain a positive attitude and don’t take it out on the inspector – they have a job just like you do. Ask for a sticker to show that you passed the inspection,
  11. Remember, all inspection violations will become part of your CSA record.
  12. Above all, let’s be safe and return home to our loved ones.

7 Tips to Help You Stay Safe at Work


When you are at work, you are told to work safe. No matter what task you are assigned in your position, it’s important for you to know a few tips to help keep you and others safe.

Learn and Understand Workplace Risks.

In your position, you need to know what the risks and hazards are in the workplace. Once you understand the risks, you can determine what steps you need to take to reduce the risk of a work-related accident.

Lower Stress Levels in the Workplace.

Stress happens in both life and in the workplace. You need to be aware of your stress level at work and figure out ways to reduce it. A few examples of workplace stress include conflicts with coworkers, long shifts, and a heavy workload. Stress can affect you in the following ways: sleeping difficulties, concentration problems, and even depression.

Take Breaks Regularly.

If you are feeling tired on the job, make sure you schedule in a few short breaks so you don’t put yourself and others at risk when working in high hazard areas.

Avoid Twisting and Stooping.

Stooping and twisting can lead to undue strain on your body over time. To prevent injuries and muscle strains, you should consider using ergonomic-designed equipment and furniture in your workplace.

Work Smarter, Not Harder.

To prevent injuries, such as sprains and strains, you should use mechanical aids to make your life easier. You could use a hoist, crane, forklift, or even a wheelbarrow to help you lift heavy objects easier.

Lift With Your Legs, Not Your Back.

When lifting heavy loads, you need to lift the object with your legs, not your back.

Wear the Proper PPE.

Depending on the task at hand, you need to consider the correct PPE, like earplugs, glasses, steel-toe shoes, or earmuffs to reduce the chance of injury.