Suzanne Sturgeon is the Health and Safety (H&S) Program Manager for SCS Engineers staff working in the field. Suzanne is responsible for developing and implementing safety programs, policies, procedures, and regulations. She also manages H&S training for field staff, developing and conducting cultural-based training within SCS to promote understanding and participation while encouraging a behavior-based philosophy essential to eliminating unsafe practices and conditions.
Suzanne doesn’t stop there; she continually evolves her programs and participates in association speaking opportunities to share successful strategies throughout North America at Solid Waste Association of North America (SWANA) events and others. Her focus has been proactively identifying hazardous landfill and landfill gas situations and presenting unique and successful solutions she has developed for SCS. But, as the number of MRFs and Transfer Stations is expected to increase, those areas have become safety focus areas.
The industry is seeing a reduction in workplace fatalities based on the most recent U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics, but there is more work to do. “Solid waste is a dangerous industry, and we collectively work to bring awareness to those most vulnerable to injury or worse,” said Sturgeon. “As an industry, we have the tools and more on-demand training to help reach more workers before problems occur to continue making our industry safer.”
As the SWANA National Safety Committee Chair, Suzanne is working hard and smart in the field, keeping up with new systems, equipment, and facilities that need her particular skills and insight to keep worker fatalities and injuries on the downward trend. Her innovative training and ability to communicate with so many saves lives.
Greg McCarron, PE, is a Vice President of SCS Engineers and the firm’s expert on Organics Management. Greg supports businesses and municipalities across the U.S. taking steps to address climate change, which many consider the most important challenge facing our planet. One popular option is reducing greenhouse gas and their environmental impacts by diverting organics from landfills, thus reducing methane production. The tactic also diverts much-needed food to food banks in some programs, but all programs produce a product good for the earth.
Greg’s 35 years of experience include operations, project management, design, permitting, regulatory support, construction oversight, system start-up, economic analysis, and technology assessment to find the right system and the proper mix for sustainable composting operations.
Among his successful innovative projects, there are award winners for demonstrating composting operations can be in urban areas, conveniently coexisting with buildings and people, even tucked under a bridge in New York City.
He created an Aerated Static Pile (ASP) composting pilot program so that municipalities and businesses could evaluate their organic waste streams to determine whether composting is a viable solution before making a capital investment.
And he is leading the design of hybrid composting approaches that combine an ASP system with other technologies, such as open windrows. These hybrid systems can achieve necessary process control while maintaining cost efficiencies. The designs depend on the priority challenges unique to each project — processing increasing tons of food scraps, for example, but change as priorities differ within programs. Sustainability means the systems are flexible enough to adapt to waste trends and the end market, which demands various high-quality mixes to sell.
Greg says, “the advancements mentioned above help support sustainable composting and organics management because they account for changes that may occur over the life of the systems, such as waste characteristics and their relation to the end-product demand.”
We have seen the Safety First signs in various businesses, but which comes first, health & safety or profit? Some say, without profit, a business would be out of business, and safety would no longer be a concern. However, SCS Engineers thinks safety is first in this chicken and egg paradox. After all, we are discussing peoples’ well-being, but let’s address the business aspects too.
To increase your profit and reduce your operating costs, you need to focus on your employees’ health and safety, not only trip hazards and other short-term problems. The long-term health of employees is a vital component of health & safety – protecting your people from toxic chemical vapors, having a hearing conservation program in a noisy environment, and don’t forget ergonomics in industrial and office settings.
Safety and health are both essential; they only appear to slow down productivity. In the event of an illness or incident, production could slow or stop while resolving an issue and carrying out investigations. Minimize costly production interruptions by changing your health & safety focus to a proactive preventative approach. Instead of reducing accident impacts, prevent them in the first place.
You can implement a better health & safety program and stave off the inevitable risks to personnel and business assets across factories, construction sites, and other work environments by better managing and preventing an incident from occurring in the first place. Being proactive becomes an integral part of the safety equation by achieving efficiency and value, leaving behind the ever-present focus on cost.
Taking a preventative approach instead of a reactive one, every business, employee, visitor, and stakeholder benefits. There will no longer be a question of balancing safety and efficiency. Instead, safety is a catalyst for quicker production, superior logistics, easier movement of goods and people, and an overall better working environment.
In January of 2022, two business owners were sentenced to prison for violating Worker Safety Laws, resulting in two workers’ deaths when a rail tanker car exploded. Imagine the blow to employee morale when this incident occurred. Morale is also affected by issues not nearly as dramatic, such as when an employee develops cancer from inhaling chemical vapors over the course of their career or if a co-worker needs back surgery due to incorrect lifting techniques. When OSHA or the lawyers come knocking and asking for training records and personal exposure data, what will you have to show them?
A thoughtful, proactive written health & safety program, regular training, thorough written documentation, and meticulous collection of personal exposure data show agencies and your staff that your employees are knowledgeable about health & safety. They are not exposed to stressors at levels that exceed harmful or regulatory limits. Implementing engineering or administrative controls can also reduce excessive exposure below the legal limits and recommended guidelines. Something very important to potential new hires.
About the Author:
Jed Douglas, CIH, CSP, PG is SCS Engineers’ National Expert on Industrial Hygiene, and a senior technical advisor specializing in Occupational Health and Safety issues. He has 30 years of experience as a health and safety specialist and project manager, and has managed numerous environmental projects involving: safety; soil and groundwater investigations and remediation of hazardous constituents; and, indoor air quality (IAQ) assessments for physical, chemical, and biological contaminants. Read more from this IH&S expert who shares his knowledge abd insights here:
In light of public concerns related to COVID-19, SCS Engineers has proactive measures and contingency plans in place to protect our employees and our clients, while continuing our work. SCS’s Health & Safety practice, in consultation with our executives, the Centers for Disease Control, and industry associations, endeavors to make the most responsible decisions as circumstances demand.
SCS will post updates here as needed, and is in regular and consistent communication with all employees and with our clients.
Silica dust exposes over two million construction workers per year and is an area of high concern for OSHA. Workers create the dust when cutting, sawing, grinding, drilling, and crushing stone, rock, concrete, brick, block, and mortar.
Although crystalline silica is a common mineral found in the earth’s crust, common construction operations and cutting or crushing stone could result in unsafe conditions for workers. Industrial grade sand used in certain foundry work and hydraulic fracturing (fracking) is also a source of exposure.
OSHA’s standard (29 CFR 1926.1153) requires employers to protect workers from overexposure to respirable crystalline silica during construction, demolition, blasting, and tunneling activities. SCS Engineers Health and Safety (H&S) practice offers services and training to protect your workers and the public from exposure, therefore reducing your business risk.
SCS helps businesses fully implement control methods as the OSHA standard dictates, and we can measure and assess workers’ exposure to silica to determine which controls work best.
The value of using an SCS Engineers team is that we are not only qualified H&S practitioners; we are in the construction business too. We understand what is necessary to protect workers and your business under many different construction operations and conditions whether they are on petrochemical, utility, transportation, or brownfield project sites.
SCS can also create a written exposure control plan to identify all relevant tasks involving potential exposure and the methods to protect workers.
Our services are comprehensive and include accredited laboratory analysis and any necessary regulatory reporting. We also offer various types of training for workers to implement your company’s exposure control plan.
We’re here to help.
A few years ago, an engineer working for a“friend’s plant” chose to replace their evaporative condenser with an adiabatic condenser. On the surface, the choice seemed like a good idea since adiabatic condensers often provide higher heat rejection with lower water and electricity usage. The condenser was purchased and installed, but all was not well. When not carefully considered, replacing equipment or control programs can have unforeseen consequences such as negative impacts on operational safety.
In this real life example the author examines what information would have made a big difference and significant savings had the right questions been asked.
Click to read this article and others written for those in industries using ammonia refrigeration.
SCS sustains and improves our organization’sHealth & Safety Program by having a designated Corporate Health & Safety Director. We know H&S is important to you, and to SWANA who recently announced that it will begin collecting safety data from municipalities about collection injuries and accidents.
An organization with a limited budget is nevertheless responsible for the overall technical direction, management, and implementation of a company’s Health & Safety Program. Providing a safe and healthful environment for employees and communities is the core mission of our work. In keeping with the goals of OSHA and the USEPA, SCS makes safety and health expertise affordable to any organization, regardless of size or budget. We have resources available to help you achieve OSHA and USEPA compliance while increasing your productivity, morale, and safety awareness.