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Recently, on Facebook, I posted a picture asking if viewers: "True or False: There is Mold Here".  I found the responses so interesting, I thought I'd write this blog.  First, let's have you look at the image:

This is a picture of a facility reportedly already remediated.  It was assessed to determine if the remediators' work was successful in returning the environment to a safe and normal condition.  Now, before we go any further, what do you think?  Is there mold in this area?

The answers that my colleagues and I received (from Solutions Indoor Environmental Consulting) were all over the place.  Here are just a few:

Quote
"I see efflorescence on poured concrete with drywall removed possibly from mold issue."

"False. But what is the relationship of the pattern of efflorescence to the framing?"

"It appears there be some colonization, though this is just a photo... testing would confirm."

Even more interesting than these answers is the fact that they are all from mold remediators.

I find it interesting that the remediators cannot agree on an answer.  (Are you surprised?)  The uncertainty that they show demonstrates why it is important to have a qualified industrial hygienist (like our staff at Solutions Indoor Environmental Consulting) assess the environment. Without it the environmental hazards and risks are undefined. Guessing doesn't comply with the law or provide workers and other occupants the safety and health they deserve. All of that said, there was a combination of water-damage, pest infestation, water-incursion, and microbial contamination (both bacterial and fungal) in this area of the building.

Is that what you thought?

Don't take chances, gain empowering Solutions - today!
www.solutionsiec.com
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I agree with JasonYost ALWAYS make sure you are complying with applicable laws where you are performing the work. I've found most of the time, if you educate the customer and explain you are unwilling to accept the liability of doing something that is legal but you believe may not be effective, they will generally opt to have you take the correct course of action rather than take on that liability upon themselves.
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Quite often I hear from contractors and insurance adjusters wanting clarification on why something is necessary during restoration, remediation or other contract claims work.  Here are two examples of what I'm talking about:
  • Why is an Indoor Environmental Professional (IEP) necessary?  Or, why should we pay for one?
  • Why are these engineering controls or Personal Protective Equipment necessary?  Or, why should we pay for them?

So much distrust exists between the insurance companies and the restoration, remediation and other contract companies - despite their corporate contracts with these companies - that no one trusts the other one to do their professional duty without conflict of interest.  Perhaps there are cases to make for such distrust, but there are, also, processes to mitigate fraud and abuse if one gets educated in them, organizes their business to behave such ways and exercises their organization for the good of all materially interested on claims (e.g., the insured, insurer and contractors).  The problem is, most companies don't educate themselves or organize themselves (insurers and contractors) to work in such ways.  Let's look at the two examples I gave you earlier and brush over some things about these that further this paragraph's point.  (I say brush-over; because, the subject matter would require too much information, education, etc. to cover in its necessity.  For more information, contact me at [email protected], and I'll help in any way I can.)

Why is an Indoor Environmental Professional (IEP) necessary?  Or, why should we pay for one?

Regardless what you might understand mitigation, restoration or remediation to be, if you aren't competent in occupational safety and health laws, you can easily overlook the requirement for these professionals - not to mention overlook their ability to prevent fraud and abuse on claims.  The Occupational Safety and Health Administration's (OSHA's) construction standard (29 CFR 1926) requires - on every claim - that the contractor designate or recommend without working without - at least one "competent person" (a person OSHA has designated an "industrial hygienist" in their texts) for regularly inspecting the safety and health of job sites.  And, a competent person must be designated for every project the company has under contract at any given point in time.
While it is true that certain safety and health issues may be internally overseen by the contractor (e.g., making sure workers are trained, engineering controls are in place and working correctly, and PPE is worn correctly and is appropriate to the job-site, as well as assuring compliance with the IEP's protocol), other activities may not be performed by the restoration, remediation or contractor.  For example, it is clearly stated in the Institute of Inspection, Cleaning and Restoration Certification's (IICRC's) standards that the restoration, remediation or contractor may not collect their own samples, interpret laboratory work, assess a built environment, develop protocols as part of an assessment, or perform a Post Remediation Verification Inspection (PRVI); an Indoor Environmental Professional, or IEP, is to do these things.  (On these IICRC standards, OSHA has made it clear that under the OSH Act's General Duty Clause, also known as The Act, they will enforce these IICRC standards for worker protections.)

Case in point:  A Terre Haute, Indiana family found themselves facing a $150,000.00 claim, after a local restoration company responded to their insurance claim, took their own air samples and wrote their own protocol (in their estimate).  Their insurance coverage, for such work, was limited, meaning they would have to find money to cover the estimated work in the restoration company's protocol/estimate.  They decided to hire me and my company.  For $1,600.00 we performed an entire building assessment and wrote a protocol for work.  The insurer and insured took the estimate to other restoration companies.  The largest estimate they got was $49,000.00.  You see:  The first contractor was violating the law, and attempting to take the insurer and insured for an extra $100,000.00 over the necessary work in the structure.  By spending the money on our assessment, the insurer was able to help themselves and the insured - by protecting both from fraud and abuse.

A job is what it is, and that includes these regulations on the work being performed.  Either the materially interested parties will pay for and apply these regulations to the claim, or they won't.  It's not a choice.  It's the law.  So, besides avoiding fraud and abuse in the insurance claim, insurers and contractors want to apply themselves to compliance and sound-ethical and professional exercises on each claim to avoid liabilities and competitive disadvantages in the marketplace.

Why are these engineering controls or Personal Protective Equipment necessary?  Or, why should we pay for them?

Engineering controls and PPE are, often, considered one in the same thing, but they are not.  Not in application, process or the eyes of the law.  So, this subject is hard to answer in one general swipe.  One has to understand the specifics of each and the laws that apply to the expectations on companies regarding each.  For example, OSHA has a multitude of laws regulating the training, use and type of PPE adequate for each job.  And, when those aren't followed, they can cite, fine and otherwise punish the employer for non-compliance (i.e, unethical behavior). 

Case in point:  A Houston, Texas company was fined (by OSHA) $128,000.00 and cited for unsafe electrical conditions; because, they failed to adequately provide PPE for their employees.
It is expected that all types of restoration, remediation and construction companies promote ethical behavior among their employees.  This cannot be done in a vacuum; in other words, it cannot be exemplified or achieved by throwing the responsibility on employees alone.  A company has a responsibility to (1) create an internal environment that promotes, expects and rewards ethical behavior, and (2) sets an example - on all levels of employment - of what ethical behavior is.  This, by the way, includes how thy relate to their sub-contractors, temporary hire, and other employees and materially interested parties.

As I stated above concerning the competent person, a job is what it is, and that includes these regulations on the work being performed.  Either the materially interested parties will pay for and apply these regulations to the claim, or they won't.  It's not a choice.  It's the law.  So, besides avoiding fraud and abuse in the insurance claim, insurers and contractors want to apply themselves to compliance and sound-ethical and professional exercises on each claim to avoid liabilities and competitive disadvantages in the marketplace.

Don't take chances, gain empowering Solutions - today!

www.solutionsiec.com
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What if the house has visible mold on walls, ceilings, furniture ect.. in only ONE ROOM.

The homeowner does not believe that a mold inspection of the entire body is practical, what techniques, illustrations or examples have you provided to help them understand the vitality of not just testing one area?

Devon, all you can do is honestly educate the customer.  If they decide to do something less than required, you have to decide if you're going to do right by your morals and ethics, comply with laws, etc. after that.  Each side should learn to respect the other when they make decisions, but one person's decision doesn't allow the professional to perform work unprofessionally.
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That is testing of those rooms, only, and a limited form of testing at that.  It is not an inspection.

On the subject of making the indoor air quality healthy, one has to define their needs (for a healthy environment) before they can evaluate that environment and engineer it to fit those needs.
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Mold Inspection & Removal / Allergens
« Last post by Devon Shubin NC Remodels on Today at 07:55:31 AM »
How would you explain to a customer allergens vs. toxic mold spores from a lab report?
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Mold Inspection & Removal / Re: How to Kill Black Mold Safely & Forever
« Last post by Benwood31 on August 21, 2017, 07:33:10 PM »
I service the Louisville, KY metro area and surrounding areas.
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@Benwood31 you dont need customers like that.

What areas do you service?
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Off Topic Chat / Re: How to watch the solar eclipse
« Last post by Dominick Manieri on August 21, 2017, 04:50:39 PM »
are there any instructions on how to watch this post? ;D
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Mold Inspection & Removal / Re: How to Kill Black Mold Safely & Forever
« Last post by Benwood31 on August 21, 2017, 01:17:04 PM »
Some more bogus information from the internet. This garbage makes the job of the mold remediation professional so much more difficult. I had a lady refuse to hire me a few weeks ago because what I told her didn't jive with what she "learned" online. She couldn't understand why I as recommending she contact an Industrial Hygienist if I am the "expert". All she wanted me to do was test to see the visible mold and water damage that obviously would require removing her kitchen cabinet was "black mold" and how could I know what needed to be done if I didn't test to see what type of mold it was. No matter what information I quoted to her from the IICRC or EPA, whatever she had read or seen online was gospel as far as she was concerned. Publication of garbage like this is so frustrating.
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