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Tier II Reporting: Recommendations for Error-Free Submissions in Texas

by Renee Witherspoon, CSP, CIH, CHMM, South Plains Chapter President (2012-2015) and member of the Lubbock County LEPC

March 1st, 2017 is the deadline once again for the annual submission of the Tier II Report for 2016. The Tier II Report is required under Section 312 of the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act or EPCRA.

As of September 1, 2015 the Tier II Chemical Reporting Program has moved to the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) from the Department of State Health Services (DSHS), so some new requirements and updated contact information and addresses have been added. Below is our new contact information for Texas filers.

New Tier II Contact information!

Do you need to submit a Tier II Report?do-you-need-to-submit-a-tier-ii-report

If you are an operator of a facility which meets the hazardous chemical reporting thresholds AT ANY TIME in the previous calendar year, and your facility is not exempt, then you should prepare an electronic Tier II report via the Tier2 Submit software program.

That report will be submitted to the State (the TCEQ in Texas), the local Fire Department, and the Local Emergency Planning Committee or LEPC.

The Tier II criteria is below:

  • One or more hazardous chemicals[1] present at any one time during calendar year (Note: if a chemical is required to have a Safety Data Sheet or SDS, it’s probably a hazardous chemical) AND
  • That hazardous chemical meets or exceeds:
    • 10,000 pounds at any one time during the Calendar Year OR
    • The Threshold Planning Quantity (TPQ) in pounds or 500 pounds, whichever amount is less (at any one time during 2016), for any of the chemicals listed on the Extremely Hazardous Substances (EHS) List. (see Section 302 (EHS) TPQ for this list)
  • Note: Retail gasoline/diesel service station operators that meet specific criteria are allowed higher reporting thresholds for gasoline (75K gallons) and diesel (100K gallons).

Recommendations for an Error-Free Submission: 

In Texas, besides a few additional numbers you will have to find (or request), there are no big changes from the previous year’s submission.

Here’s a few recommendations. (This is not a comprehensive list of requirements for Texas, for more information see the TCEQ Tier II website.)

  • Use or continue to use EPA’s Tier2 Submit software and submit electronic files to the TCEQ via email at: T2Sdatafiles@tceq.texas.gov
    • Note: If your facility submitted an electronic report last year, you will still be able to import the data into the new software to make updates and submit that as your 2016 report. Yea!
      • Don’t have a copy of last year’s electronic submission? Contact the TCEQ!
  • Download the latest version of the Tier2 Submit software for 2016 at: http://www.epa.gov/epcra/tier2-submit-software
    • The software is updated every year, so always remember to download the most current version.
  • For Texas filers, new numbers are required! Beginning in 2017 the TCEQ requires your report include:
    • [NEW] Your Customer Number (CN)[2] and your Regulated Entity Number (RN)
    • TXT2 Number[3]
  • And more numbers…
  • Filing your report or correspondence with the TCEQ?
    • Include a contact name and phone number in the body of the email for reference.
  • Need training?
  • Don’t over report!
    • Over reporting may result in “overpayment” when calculating your fees to the State.
    • Check the Texas Tier II Chemical Reporting Exemptions list to make sure that you are not reporting something that does not need to be reported.
    • Be accurate because this information will be used by a responding fire department in the event of an emergency.
  • Not in Texas? That’s too bad, because it’s an awesome State! See this link for a summary of your State’s Tier II Reporting Requirements and Procedures:  http://www.epa.gov/epcra/state-tier-ii-reporting-requirements-and-procedures

The next step: Where to send your Tier II Reports

Once you’ve completed your report with the new software “Create” the Final Submission.  The electronic file created will export as a “.t2s” file.  This is the file that will be sent to the TCEQ (or your State), LEPC and Fire Department.

Since I work in the Lubbock County area my report will be sent to: kivy@mylubbock.us  at the City of Lubbock Fire Department, Communications Division and tier2lubbockcounty@co.lubbock.tx.us for the Lubbock County LEPC.

Each City and County may have their own filing requirements or allow paper submissions, so contact them directly for where to send your local Tier II reports.

How much is this going to cost me?

The last step is to pay the required filing fee to your State.  A portion of this fee in Texas will be going to an annual grant program to help the local LEPC’s implement EPCRA.

In Texas follow the links below to the online fee calculators:

The fee payments can be sent by U.S. Mail to the address provided on the Filing Fee Payment Form (PDF or Word) or payments can now be made online through the TCEQ’s ePay[4] system.

To avoid confusion, do not send duplicate submissions of your Tier II Report in any format with your filing fee.

Conclusion

Although filing a Tier II report can be quite tedious and require resources of time, effort and money, it is worth it because your information is used by the local fire department and emergency response personnel for planning and preparing for possible emergency situations in the community.  In light of recent terrorist events, the information on the Tier II report is kept strictly confidential and procedures are in place for who can gain access.

Whether your organization has to file a Tier II report or not, the best advice is to contact your local fire department and invite them to your facility.  My organization does this annually and I look forward to the opportunity of meeting my local responders that help keep my organization safe.

Lastly, plan to attend your next LEPC meeting.  Our LEPC’s are an excellent resource for both the public and private organizations to come together and plan for emergency situations within the community.

If you have any questions, send me an email at: renee.witherspoon@ttuhsc.edu

Additional Resources

 

[1] The OSHA Hazard Communication Standard (HCS) definition is “any element, chemical compound, or mixture of elements and/or compounds.” According to OSHA this definition of a chemical in this standard is much broader than that which is commonly used. Reference: https://www.osha.gov/dsg/hazcom/ghd053107.html#process

[2] About the CN or RN Numbers

  • If you are a regulated entity within the State, you may already have these numbers.
  • If you don’t know if you are a regulated entity or are uncertain search the Central Registry Database to verify your correct numbers or if you have a number.
  • If you don’t have a CN or RN number, you will need them this year. The TCEQ recommends that customers go online and acquire them through STEERS. This will require you to set up an account, password and authorization if you are completing the Tier II on behalf of the owner/operator.

[3] About the TXT2 Number

  • If you’ve filed a Tier II Report previously, you should already have a TXT2 Number. The TCEQ recommends to continue to use this same number for future reporting years.  As a reminder you should use the same TXT2 number for all of your facilities as long as they are owned or operated under the same owner or operator.

[4] At the ePay site, under Option 3, View List of Fees by Media, choose “Other”. Input your Program Area ID, which is your TXT2 Number.

Region III VP Steve Gray visits the South Plains Chapter at the 2016 Christmas Luncheon

by Renee Witherspoon, CSP, CIH, CHMM, South Plains Chapter President (2012-2015)

Steve Gray, CSP, CHST, Region III VP speaks at the South Plains Chapter December event.

Steve Gray, CSP, CHST, Region III VP speaks at the South Plains Chapter December event.

On December 7, 2016 the ASSE South Plain Chapter had as their special guest, ASSE Region III Vice President Steve Gray, CSP, CHST at its annual Christmas luncheon hosted by ASSE South Plains Chapter member Roger Reyna and R2M Engineering in Lubbock.

  • Thank you Roger and your team at R2M for hosting us again!

Steve’s presentation began with an update on the 2016 Professional Development Conference (PDC) in San Antonio. He was pleased to announce that the Region had $127K in total revenue with $50K in gross profit and $42K in net profit for the Region.  With the success of the PDC and with Steve’s leadership, Region III was able to pay all of the debt from previous years approximately $14K, and have some money going forward to provide scholarships for the 2017 Student Leadership Conference.

Steve highlighted the Membership Challenge that will go through June 1, 2017.  The winning member will receive round-trip airfare and 2 night’s hotel accommodations for three to attend the 2017 ASSE Leadership Conference.

The remainder of his presentation provided a personal insight on why he chose to be in the safety profession.

ASSE Member Roger Reyna, Exec. VP of R2M Engineering greets guests attending the luncheon.

ASSE Member Roger Reyna, Exec. VP of R2M Engineering greets guests in attendance.

Significant events make an impact

It was on December 22, 1996 as Steve was working as a firefighter/EMT, his unit responded to event that changed his life. It was an explosion at the Wyman Gordon Forging Company facility in Cypress near Houston.  Steve said that the blast was so powerful that it blew body parts over 150 yards away.  The explosion killed 8 workers.

Prior to the accident employees were working on a tank. Upon further investigation after the event one of the workers said that he had just assumed that the pressure had been released from the tank they were working on.  According to Steve the employee said that they “just overlooked it.” Steve cited a ball-valve leak and failure of the lockout-tagout procedure and resultant overpressure that caused this catastrophic event.

This affected Steve so significantly that he knew that he wanted to try to work to prevent accidents and started his safety career.

What keeps him in safety?

Steve said what keeps him in safety occurred in 2008 as he was working for the Dallas Cowboys organization. An electrician Timothy MacKinnon, 45, was worked for JMEG Electric, a sub-contractor working on the Cowboy’s Stadium electrical system.  Timothy was standing on a ladder performing an electrical test when he touched the power line.

Once firefighters arrived on the scene, they continued to perform CPR, but were unable to revive him. He passed away on the way to the hospital.

Steve was given the responsibility to talk to the Timothy’s family about the accident and had to take the blame for what had happened.  Steve doesn’t want anyone to have to go through this and emphasized to us as safety professionals that we have to “make safety personal.” As it provides passion and can drive us communicate the importance of safety in every aspect of our lives.

Invite someone to an ASSE meeting

Steve wrapped up his presentation by sharing a little on why he joined the ASSE.  He was invited to an ASSE by Richard Bourlon, Health and Safety Team Leader at the Boy Scouts of America in Dallas.  While he was at the meeting, he saw networking opportunities and wanted to increase his knowledge in safety and leadership.

He summed it up with some key takeaways:

  • Grow Membership
  • Support Development of Younger Members
  • Make Safety a Part of Life
  • Network with other Safety Professionals
  • Don’t be Afraid to Lead – we are here to help!

A copy of his presentation is available here:  12-07-16-asse-south-plains-presentation-steve-gray-region-iii-vp

***

On behalf of the South Plains Chapter, we would like to thank Steve for taking time from his new job and flying out to Lubbock to make this presentation.  We appreciate all that he has done for our Region and thank him for his leadership and willingness to serve.

On a personal note, I would like to thank all of the ASSE members like Richard Bourlon that invite their friends and colleagues to ASSE meetings.  You never know who the next safety leader might be or what impact you might have in someone’s life.

More about our Region III VP:

Steven B. Gray, CSP, CHST, is the current Region III Vice President and the Director of HSE for BOS Solutions in Houston, TX and is responsible for the development, implementation and management of all programs relating to HSE across North America.  Steve has worked with FMC Technologies, Manhattan Construction, Dallas Cowboys, ISNetworld and CBRE over his 18-year career.  He holds a B.S. in Fire Protection and Safety Engineering Technology from Oklahoma State University.

A member of ASSE since 2001, Steve is a Professional Member and held the offices of Secretary, Treasurer, Vice President and President in the Southwest Chapter. Steve was elected Region III Vice President in 2015, started the Region III Student Leadership Conference in 2005 and has held several roles at the Regional level over the past ten years. Steve was responsible for overseeing the 2016 Region III PDC in San Antonio which resulted in the most successful conference financially in the past 10 years.

Steve’s professional accomplishments include the Southwest Chapter’s “Safety Professional of the Year”, National Construction Practice Specialty “Safety Professional of the Year”, and Association of General Contractors “Safety Director of the Year”, among others.  Steve was also volunteered for five years with the Miracle League, a baseball association for children with special needs, first as a coach then as elected Board President until his relocation to Houston in 2011.

Are you prepared for a Hazmat Shipping Audit?

ASSE Member Sterlin Smith teaches a section of the Hazmat refresher course given on December 14 at TTUHSC.  Prior to coming to HSC, Sterlin was a officer for the California Highway Patrol inspecting shipments and an instructor in Hazardous Materials.

ASSE Member Sterlin Smith teaches a section of the Hazmat refresher course given on December 14 at TTUHSC. Prior to coming to HSC, Sterlin was a officer for the California Highway Patrol inspecting Hazmat shipments and an instructor in Hazardous Materials.

By Renee Witherspoon, CSP, CIH, CHMM, South Plains Chapter President (2012-2015)

If you ship hazardous materials by ground or air and are not properly trained as a hazmat employee, then it is time to get into compliance with these regulations.  The Department of Transportation (DOT) Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) updated its penalty structure so organizations now need to make sure their employees are trained and prepared for that federal agency inspection.

We were prepared and had our documentation readily available when a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Special Agent came by for a surprise inspection.  Our employees were trained and certified as hazmat employees so we avoided the penalties, but now with penalties increasing, I hope this will provide an incentive for organizations to come into compliance and take responsibility for the safety of the transport of their hazardous materials (hazmats).

The Surprise FAA Audit

Back in October of 2012 my employer had a visit from the Federal Aviation Administration Special Agent for Hazardous Materials.  As a special agent with the FAA, he is responsible for ensuring that all entities that offer hazmats in commerce are in compliance with the federal regulations.

Since all federal inspector must explain the purpose of their visit, I found out that he was looking for two specific individuals who had signed shipping declaration forms for air transportation.  As it turns out one of the shippers was me, and the other my colleague who was also working with me at the time.  The agent stated that he was not here to investigate a violation but to perform an audit.

The first thing he asked for was for the last 3 years of our training records, as well as any Shipping Declarations for Dangerous Goods documents that had been shipped in the last 90 days.  Fortunately we had not shipped any items, but were able to immediately provide the training documents he was requesting, including copies of the printed sign-in sheets for the training classes.  On the sign-in sheets we had the certification statement as required in a “Record of Training” in 40 CFR 172.704 to show that everyone had been properly certified as Hazmat employee. The special agent also asked about the emergency telephone number on our shipper’s declaration, and were able to provide him documentation of a third-party 24-hour emergency response service

Our training records met the standards – relief! Since we didn’t’ have any packages to ship at the time, his audit was limited to review of training records and shipping documentation.

Are you a hazmat employee?

How do you know if you are a hazmat employee? If you ship hazardous materials in commerce it depends on your assigned job tasks.  The DOT defines a hazmat employee in 49 CFR 171.8 as a person who is:

  • Employed by a hazmat employer and directly affects hazmat transportation safety;
  • Self-employed (including an owner-operator of a motor vehicle) transporting hazmats in commerce (affecting trade or transportation in-State and outside of the State, or on a US-registered aircraft) that directly affects hazmat transportation safety;
  • A railroad signalman; or a railroad maintenance-of-way employee.

The hazmat employee functions include:

  • Loading, unloading, or handling hazmats
  • Designing, manufacturing, fabricating, inspecting, marking, maintaining, reconditioning, repairing, or testing a package, container or packaging component that is represented, marked, certified, or sold as qualified for use in transporting hazmats in commerce.
  • Preparing hazmats for transportation, including the signing of manifests.
  • Being responsible for safety of transporting hazmats, or
  • Operating a vehicle used in transporting hazmats.

Hazmat Civil Penalties Increase

PHMSA has raised the maximum and minimum civil penalties for violations of Federal hazardous materials hazmat regulations.

The maximum civil penalty went from $75,000 per day/per violation to $77,114 per day/per violation.
For violations that result in death, serious illness, or severe injury or substantial property damage, the maximum civil penalty went from $175,000 per day/per violation to $179,993 per day per violation.

New is that the minimum penalty for violations of the training requirements for a hazmat employee have gone from $450 to $463 per day/per violation.

Civil penalties are assessed for knowingly violating  a hazmat transportation law or a regulation, order, special permit or approval issued under that law.  A rental company in Columbia Missouri failed to provide initial general awareness training and had no training records documented and received a $2600 fine.  A Wireline company in Alice Texas received a $2880 fine when they offered and transported radioactive materials without making sure that external radiation was within allowable limits.  A warehouse in Atlanta Georgia received a $3480 fine for not including an authorized emergency response number on a shipping paper, and incorrect proper shipping names.[1]

Training Requirements

If you represent a hazmat employer, ship hazmats or want to avoid costly penalties, it’s now time to get the necessary training.

Hazmat employers are required to provide training (172.704) for their hazmat employees that include:

(1) General awareness/familiarization training.

Provides familiarity with the basic shipping requirements, and enables employees to recognize and identify hazmats consistent with the hazard communication standards.

(2) Function-specific training.

Provides function-specific training on shipping requirements, or exemptions or special permits issued, that are specifically applicable to the functions the employee performs. Training can also include requirements of the ICAO Technical Instructions (Air Transport) and the IMDG Code (Vessel Transport).

(3) Safety training.

Provides safety training regarding emergency response information, measures to protect the employee from the hazards associated with hazardous materials and training on the methods and procedures for avoiding accidents, including proper procedures for handling packages containing hazmats.

Many employers will provide safety training, such as Hazard Communication or Emergency Action, separate from the Hazmat training which is acceptable for DOT compliance.

(4) Security awareness training.

Provides an awareness of security risks associated with hazmat transportation and methods to enhance transportation security. Training must be within 90 days and include how to recognize and respond to possible security threats. Security training must include security objectives, specific security procedures, employee responsibilities, actions to take in the event of a security breach, and the organizational security structure.

Conclusion

Although it’s always a good feeling to pass a surprise inspection by a federal agency and have all of the documentation in order, it’s more important to understand that shipping hazmat correctly minimizes or eliminates unsafe conditions that may pose a danger to someone that may come into contact with the shipment.

We were ready, but many organizations are shipping their hazmats without any trained personnel.  They risk exposing themselves and their organization to tremendous financial costs and possible legal implications in the event of a spill or release of the hazmat during transportation.  If you haven’t been trained, get trained now.  It’s one of the first questions asked when the government agent comes for that surprise visit.

[1]Reference: phmsa.dot.gov – Penalty Action Report

http://phmsa.dot.gov/staticfiles/PHMSA/DownloadableFiles/Files/2015_Penalty_Action_Report.pdf

OSHA’s Dan Hobelman Provides OSHA Update in November

by Renee Witherspoon, CSP, CIH, CHMM, Past-President (2012-2015)

OSHAs Dan Hobelman provides an update to ASSE members and guests at the November meeting.

OSHAs Dan Hobelman provides an update to ASSE members and guests at the November meeting.

On November 15, 2016 the ASSE South Plains Chapter hosted Mr. Dan Hobelman, Compliance Officer with the Lubbock Area OSHA Office for the annual OSHA Update.

Dan provided an update on several issues including:

  • Final rule on tracking of injury and illness data.

The January 1, 2017 implementation requires certain employers (see below) to electronically submit injury and illness data that they are already required to record on their onsite OSHA Injury and Illness forms. The rule also prohibits employers from discouraging workers from reporting an injury or illness.

Who are these “certain employers?”

Company’s with 250 or more employees in industries covered by the recordkeeping regulation must submit information from their 2016 Form 300A by July 1, 2017. These same employers will be required to submit information from all 2017 forms (300A, 300, and 301) by July 1, 2018.

Beginning in 2019 and every year thereafter, the information must be submitted by March 2.  For more information see https://www.osha.gov/recordkeeping/finalrule/index.html

  • Adjustment of OSHA penalties as of August 2016.

The new penalties took effect August 2, 2016. For more information see: https://www.osha.gov/penalties/

Violation Current Maximum Penalty New Maximum Penalty
Serious
Other-Than-Serious
Posting Requirements
$7,000 per violation $12,471 per violation
Failure to Abate $7,000 per day beyond the abatement date $12,471 per day beyond the abatement date
Willful or Repeated $70,000 per violation $124,709 per violation

 

There was a question and discussion on OSHA delaying rule enforcement related to post-incident drug testing, a AGC.org article was referenced. OSHA delayed the anti-retaliation provision in it’s injury and illness reporting rules until December 1, 2016.  OSHA’s intention was to enforce polices that could restrict mandatory post-incident alcohol and drug testing.  AGC (The Associated General Contractors of America) has called on Congress to withdraw its position on this.

In 2017 OSHA Region VI which includes Lubbock will be focusing on an initiative in an effort to decrease amputations, increasing their inspections in those industries that may have amputations, including Metal Fab industries having machines with machine guarding.

In conclusion, he finished up with a review of OSHA’s Top 10 in General Industry and Construction and Q&A session.

Key is the Final Rule update in General Industry for Walking and Working Surfaces and Fall Protection.  The rule will become effective 60 days after publication in the Federal Register.

The new rule benefits employers by providing greater flexibility in choosing a fall protection system. For example, it eliminates the existing mandate to use guardrails as a primary fall protection method and allows employers to choose from accepted fall protection systems they believe will work best in a particular situation.  For more information see:  https://www.osha.gov/walking-working-surfaces/index.html  and Fact Sheet https://www.osha.gov/Publications/OSHA3903.pdf

New provisions:

  • Ensure workers are trained on fall hazards (6 months),
  • Ensure workers who use equipment covered by the final rule are trained (6 months),
  • Inspect and certify permanent anchorages for rope descent systems (1 year),
  • Install personal fall arrest or ladder safety systems on new fixed ladders over 24 feet and on replacement ladders/ladder sections, including fixed ladders on outdoor advertising structures (2 years),
  • Ensure existing fixed ladders over 24 feet, including those on outdoor advertising structures, are equipped with a cage, well, personal fall arrest system, or ladder safety system (2 years), and
  • Replace cages and wells (used as fall protection) with ladder safety or personal fall arrest systems on all fixed ladders over 24 feet (20 years)

On behalf of the South Plains Chapter we would like to thank Mr. Hobelman for providing an excellent summary and update.  He can be reached at: Hobelman.Daniel@dol.gov

A copy of his program is available here: top-10-violations-fy-16

Patrick Brady with BNSF speaks at Lubbock County LEPC on Hazmat Safety

Patrick Brady, CIH, CSP, General Director Hazardous Materials out of Fort Worth office of

Patrick Brady, CIH, CSP, with BNSF discusses Hazmat release trending at the LEPC meeting.

Patrick Brady, CIH, CSP, with BNSF discusses Hazmat release trending at the LEPC meeting.

BNSF Railway was the special guest speaker at the Lubbock County Local Emergency Planning Committee (LEPC) meeting on November 3rd 2016. A copy of his PowerPoint presentation is available below.

As the General Director of Hazardous Materials one of his many duties is leadership of the extensive network of emergency responders that cover BNSF’s over 32,500 mile network of rail. Stationed strategically throughout the country, the emergency responders are trained and equipped to handle both small and major releases.

His team of more than 250 skilled professionals is responsible for all emergency responses, mobilizing remediation, response contractors and technical assistance. As part of his organization’s adoption of Responsible Care (a global voluntary safety and environmental performance standard) BNSF is committed to health, safety and environmental excellence that prioritizes planning and processes that help communities prepare for a hazmat incident it it were to occur.

He also discussed other important topics including:

  • Positive Train Control (PTC) a new digital wireless technology that enhances communication to prevent train-to-train collisions and enforce speed limits.
  • New Tank Car Standards where new tank cars built after October 1, 2015 must meet an enhanced DOT 117 design that includes increased thickness in the steel plate and required thermal protection.

BNSF provides free railroad hazmat response training to emergency responders thoughout the US and also has free online hazmat training available.

Although exact percentages of hazardous materials shipped by rail through Lubbock County is confidential and the information used for emergency planning and training purposes, the percentages are similar to other transportation modes, such as highway transport along I-27 between US 84 and East 19th St. where approximately 51% are Flammable and Combustible Liquids.

commodity-flow-study-graph

Railroads carry hazardous freight so Patrick’s experience as a Certified Safety Professional and Certified Industrial Hygienist benefits his organization in being able to anticipate and prevent accidents and injury before they happen.

On behalf of the Lubbock County LEPC and South Plains Chapter ASSE we would like to thank Patrick and BNSF for their commitment to safety of our communities and the environment.

More about our Speaker:

Patrick is the BNSF Railway, General Director Hazardous Materials, Fort Worth, Texas He started with Burlington Northern Railroad in 1991 as a Corporate Industrial Hygienist. He became the Assistant Director Hazardous Materials Safety in 1992. Upon Burlington Northern’s merger with Santa Fe in January 1996, Patrick became the Manager of Hazardous Materials Field Operation and Emergency Response and was promoted to the Asst. Director of Hazardous Materials in 2002, Director Hazardous Materials in 2014 and to General Director, Hazardous Materials Safety in 2015. Patrick is a Certified Industrial Hygienist and a Certified Safety Professional.

A copy of his PowerPoint presentation is available here: patrick-brady-presentation-to-the-lepc-11-03-16

If you would like to contact Patrick he can be reached at: Patrick.Brady@bnsf.com or 817-352-3652.

Additional LEPC information:

Top Awards at the TEHA Annual Educational Conference (AEC) go to Panhandle/West Texas Chapter Members

By Renee Witherspoon, RS, CSP, CIH, CHMM, TEHA Panhandle/West Texas Chapter President (2015-2016)

In May 2016, the awards committee completed nomination packages for some of the top Texas Environmental Health Association (TEHA) awards, the Ruth Hendy Award of Excellence in Food Safety that recognizes entities that achieve a high degree of professionalism and commitment to the communities they serve and, the Thomas E. Edmonson Meritorious Award that recognizes an individual for a career of outstanding service to TEHA.

On October 12 TEHA State President (2015-2016) Monty McGuffin, RS, announced the winners of the Ruth Hendy Awards, they are:

  • City of Lubbock Environmental Health. Lead applicant: Stevan Walker, REHS/RS, CPO
  • Texas Tech University Environmental Health and Safety. Lead applicant: Timmy Riojas, RS.
Stuart Walker, RS, gives acceptance speech at the Awards Banquet.

Stuart Walker, RS, Director of Code Enforcement for the City of Lubbock, gives his acceptance speech at the Awards Banquet.

On October 13 at the Annual Awards Banquet, the winner of the Thomas Edmonson award was announced.  Congratulations to Stuart Walker, RS, with the City of Lubbock, Code Enforcement. Stuart is a TEHA Chapter Past President and currently serves as TEHA State Parliamentarian.

The Panhandle/West Texas Chapter Meritorious Service awards went to Shaun May, REHS/RS, with the City of Amarillo, Environmental Health Department and Stevan Walker, REHS/RS, CPO, with the City of Lubbock, Environmental Health Department.

Stevan Walker also found out that he had won the election to the TEHA State Governing Council for a 3-year term.

Congratulations to all of these outstanding Chapter members and their organizations that support them in their efforts.  You represent the finest examples of professional excellence in Environmental Health and service to TEHA.

A big thanks goes out to our Chapter Award Committee members: Leslie Morgan, RS, City of Lubbock, Parks and Recreation; Anthony Spanel, RS, City of Amarillo Environmental Health, and Stevan Walker, REHS/RS, CPO, City of Lubbock Environmental Health.

Barry Stephens speaks on Backflow Prevention at Lunch and Learn

On Thursday, September 22, 2016 Barry Stephens with the City of Lubbock Water Utilities

Barry Stephens with the City of Lubbock Water Utilities Dept. speaks on Backflow Prevention at the Lunch and Learn event at TTUHSC

Barry Stephens with the City of Lubbock Water Utilities Dept. speaks on Backflow Prevention at the Lunch and Learn event at TTUHSC

Department spoke on How a Municipal Water System Works…or Things I really Didn’t Want to Know at a “Lunch and Learn” hosted by Renee Witherspoon, CSP, CIH, CHMM, Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center (TTUHSC) Occupational Safety Manager. Renee is the Past President of ASSE South Plains Chapter and President of the Panhandle/West Texas Chapter of the Texas Environmental Health Association (TEHA).

Barry is also one of the foremost experts on the topic of Backflow Prevention and provided insight to the causes of backflow and importantly, how to prevent it.  

In his presentation he covered how the distribution system works, the definition of

Water Distribution System Schematic

Water Distribution System Schematic

backflow and that backflow can even occur inside the plumbing system of commercial businesses or residences, never leaving the property.

He also covered the regulations in 30 TAC 290 that requires all municipalities since 1996 to create and maintain a backflow prevention program AKA Cross Connection Control program.

Key regulations state:

  • An adequate internal cross-connection control program shall include an annual inspection and testing by a certified backflow prevention assembly tester on all backflow prevention assemblies used for health hazard protection.
  • And, that it will be the responsibility of the water purveyor to ensure that these requirements are met.

Since the rules requiring municipalities to have a Cross Connection Control program are not based on theory but based on actual events, Barry provided some examples of where problems have happened including a Dialysis Machine contamination incident and being Burned in the Shower when a water system was contaminated with Sodium Hydroxide.

At the conclusion of the Lunch and Learn Barry provided a demonstration of how simple atmospheric pressure can cause backflow and lead to contamination.

The Lunch and Learn was broadcast from TTUHSC’s Lubbock Campus, and was TechLinked to campuses in Abilene, Amarillo, El Paso and Odessa.  For those attendee’s requesting continuing education credit a SurveyMonkey test was provided so that they could receive 1-hour of credit. The following is that link: www.surveymonkey.com/r/5YHJ23Y

***

Barry is the Past President of the Texas Water Utilities Association (TWUA), a TCEQ Instructor and is licensed as a Backflow Prevention Assembly Tester (BPAT) in Texas. On behalf of TTUHSC, ASSE and TEHA, thank you Barry and the City of Lubbock Water Utilities Department for coming out and providing such an excellent presentation for us.

Barry can be contacted at: BLStephens@mylubbock.us

A copy of his presentation is available here: how-a-municipal-water-system-works-backflow-prevention-9-22-16

July TEHA Meeting in Austin

by Renee Witherspoon, RS, CSP, CIH, CHMM, TEHA Panhandle/West Texas Chapter President (2015-2016) and ASSE South Plains Chapter President (2011-2014)

On July 15, 2016 I will have the opportunity to attend the Texas Environmental Health Association (TEHA) State Governing Council (GC) meeting in Austin to represent the Panhandle/West Texas Chapter and it’s members.

This has been a very active year so far for TEHA.  We’ve had some excellent training programs, nominated members for awards and honors and are in the process of updating TEHA Chapter finances to QuickBooks with the help of our Chapter Treasurer and Immediate Past-President, Stevan Walker, REHS/RS, CPO.  Thank you Stevan!

I’ve placed all of my recent Chapter updates in a two-page newsletter called, TEHA Handout 7-15-16 Update  I hope you will be able to review it because talks about some of the most amazing people I know – our Chapter members!  Kudo’s also too our Chapter Leadership as they have really stepped up this year to make my turn as President very rewarding.  And I can say, challenging too.

If you’re involved in any organization like TEHA (or ASSE), you have to be a multi-tasker, being able to balance work and family with volunteer efforts.  Talk to anyone in a volunteer leadership position and they will tell you that it can take many hours to complete the requirements of that office, but it’s worth it!  It’s worth it because you know that you’re not working for yourself, you’re working to benefit the organization and its members.  And when even one person is successful in something, we all benefit, our profession benefits and we contribute to the body of knowledge for future generations to stand on.

One of the requests our TEHA Executive Director, Jodie Halter, MS, RS,  has asked the Presidents was to help find members that can write articles for the TEHA publication, The Beacon. When I spoke with TEHA Chapter member Chris Saxton, Sanitary Services Manager with the El Paso Department of Health, he said that he could write an article about the National Environmental Health Association (NEHA) conference that was recently held in San Antonio.

He finished his article and it’s excellent.  He brought up some excellent points about the importance of networking and building contacts and relationships.  In that we can learn how other jurisdictions are tackling problems and then take that information back to use in our situations.

So thank you Chris for sharing your thoughts of the NEHA event, and it has been published to this site.  I am looking forward to what you’ll have to say after you return from the next NEHA event in Michigan and am glad that your organization understands the value in sending professionals to conferences so that they can continue to expand their expertise.

Lot of things are happening right now in TEHA and if you’re a member, you might feel tired or discouraged.  Think of it as a challenge, a test.  You will only lose if you quit – so don’t quit  (Phil. 4:13).  Might actually learn something about yourself, that you’re tougher and stronger than you think. Persevere and you’ll make it through, and wave at me as you’re going by because I’m right there with you.  It will turn out good (Rom. 8:28).

Now, I’m ready for my next adventure to Austin.

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Additional handouts for TEHA Chapter Members are below and are also published at myteha.org:

TEHA Member Chris Saxton attends National Environmental Conference in San Antonio in June 2016

By Chris Saxton,  MPH-EH,  REHS / RS, Sanitary Services Manager, El Paso Department of Health 

I was able to attend the National Environmental Health Association’s (NEHA) annual conference in San Antonio this year.  I was fortunate that the director of the health department, and the leadership in El Paso understood the importance of attending the NEHA conference and provided me the opportunity to go.  I have also attended past NEHA conferences in Orlando, Las Vegas and San Diego.

NEHA Conference (1)

My overall impression of the conference this year was very positive.  The location was great being on the river walk in San Antonio, and the conference educational schedule was also excellent.  The only negative I could think of was they decided to hold the conference in two different hotels.  They held the educational sessions in one hotel for the first two days and then switched to another hotel for the last two days.  I did not think this was convenient for the attendees, but the hotels were in walking distance from each other so that was a plus.

NEHA held their conference in conjunction with the Healthy Homes Conference this year, which made the conference feel much larger.  There were 150 educational seminars under 22 main education tracks that included food protection, air quality, emergency preparedness, emerging environmental health issues, healthy homes, leadership, recreational waters, schools, climate change, health impact assessments, informatics and general environmental health.  The conference offered 24 hours of continuing education for those needing it for their certifications.

NEHA Conference (5)The seminars were interesting and I learned a lot at the conference.  A seminar on the 25 questions EH managers wanted answered about job candidates was of particular interest in the leadership track.  With the amount of training and preparation we have to put into a new inspector to get them ready for the field; finding the right person for the job is one of the most important steps to take as a supervisor or manager for a successful program.

A seminar from the Denver Health Department on how their local regulation of marijuana is progressing and the lessons learned was also interesting.  You never know when your own jurisdiction may try to implement such a new program and more than likely, environmental health will be tasked with helping to put such a program together.   I spent the rest of my time in the food safety, leadership and emergency preparedness seminars.  Almost all the educational seminars had some information or processes that I could take back to help improve my own programs.

One of the other advantages to coming to a NEHA conference is to network and get to know the sanitarians and other environmental health personnel from all over the country.  I always try to get business cards and build contacts with people I meet at the conference.  Learning how other jurisdictions tackle a certain problem or talking with them about their own lessons learned on a situation can help you immensely in your own jurisdiction.  I have found most of the contacts I made are quite willing to share information and have been very helpful when dealing with new situations or helping with input when putting a new program together.

NEHA Conference (3)The NEHA conference always has a large exhibitor hall with various vendors and organizations.  You can find many of the large food inspection software companies, swimming pool equipment companies and many other vendors with environmental health products.  There are also many organizations with booths in the exhibitor hall such as the American Public Health Association (APHA), National Association of County and City Health Officials (NACCHO), and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) that provide information and other items to attendees.

I encourage sanitarians and other environmental health professionals to attend the NEHA conference, if provided the opportunity by your organization.  The next NEHA conference will be in Grand Rapids, Michigan.  I plan on attending the conference and would be glad to see more TEHA members there!

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About the author:

Chris Saxton, El Paso Health Department

Chris Saxton, El Paso Health Department

Chris currently works as the Sanitary Services Manager at the City of El Paso, Department of Health where he manages the environmental health program.  He has a bachelor’s degree in Biology from University of Missouri Columbia, and a Master’s in Public Health with a concentration in environmental health from the University of Illinois.  He is a registered environmental health specialist and registered sanitarian (REHS/RS) and a professional member of the West Texas/Panhandle Chapter of the Texas Environmental Health Association (TEHA)

South Plains Chapter professional member Chandini Revanna to speak at the CSHEMA Conference in July 2016

ASSE South Plains Chapter member Chandini Revanna, MPH, CIH, Associate Managing Director for Texas Tech’s Environmental Health & Safety will be one of four presenters in the upcoming Campus Safety Health and Environmental Management Association (CSHEMA) Annual Conference  in Austin on July 22-28.

Chandini will be speaking on Saturday, July 23 at the Lab Safety 201 course presented by the Lab Safety Community of Practice.   This course is intended to develop and improve participant’s knowledge about lab safety practices. Participants at the event will learn about increasing lab safety knowledge and developing a comprehensive lab safety program.

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