After an Inspection
An inspection of your workplace was conducted in accordance with the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, Executive Order 12196, and 29 CFR Part 1960, Basic Program Elements for Federal Employee Occupational Safety and Health Programs and Related Matters. The compliance safety and health officer (CSHO) who conducted the inspection has found conditions that are in violation of the Act, Executive Order 12196, or 29 CFR Part 1960, and you have been issued a Notice of Unsafe or Unhealthful Working Conditions, OSHA-2H Form (OSHA Notice) that explains in detail the exact nature of the alleged violation(s).
This pamphlet contains important information regarding your rights and responsibilities under the Act, Executive Order 12196, and 29 CFR Part 1960. For each apparent violation found during the inspection, the compliance officer discussed the following with you:
The nature of the violation,
Possible abatement measures you may take to correct the violative condition, and
Possible abatement dates you may be required to meet.
Types of Violations
WILLFUL: A willful violation is defined as a violation in which the employer either knowingly failed to comply with a legal requirement (purposeful disregard) or acted with plain indifference to employee safety.
SERIOUS: A serious violation exists when the workplace hazard could cause an accident or illness that would most likely result in death or serious physical harm, unless the employer did not know or could not have known of the violation.
REPEATED: A Federal agency may be cited for a repeated violation if the agency has been cited previously for the same or a substantially similar condition and, for a serious violation, OSHA’s regionwide (see last page) inspection history for the agency lists a previous OSHA Notice issued within the past five years; or, for an other-than-serious violation, the establishment being inspected received a previous OSHA Notice issued within the past five years.
OTHER-THAN-SERIOUS: A violation that has a direct relationship to job safety and health, but is not serious in nature, is classified as “other-than-serious.”
When you receive an OSHA Notice, you must post it (or a copy of it) at or near the place where each violation occurred to make employees aware of the hazards to which they may be exposed. The OSHA Notice must remain posted for 3 working days or until the hazard is abated, whichever is longer. (Saturdays, Sundays and Federal holidays are not counted as working days).
As an employer who has been cited, you may:
Correct the condition by the date set in the OSHA Notice and/or,
Request an Informal Conference within 15 working days from the time you received the OSHA Notice with the OSHA Area Director to discuss the violations and/or the abatement dates.
How to Comply
For violations cited in the OSHA Notice, you must promptly notify the OSHA Area Director by letter that you have taken the appropriate corrective action within the time set forth in the OSHA Notice. The notification you send the Area Director is generally referred to as a LETTER OF CORRECTIVE ACTION. It must explain the specific action taken with regard to the violation and state the date each corrective action was taken.
If you have abatement questions after the inspection, they should be discussed with the Area Director in the informal conference.
When the OSHA Notice permits an extended period of time for abatement, you must insure that employees are adequately protected during this time. If this is the case, you must provide OSHA with a periodic progress report on your actions taken in the interim.
You may request an informal conference with the OSHA Area Director to discuss the violations. You may use this opportunity to do any of the following:
Obtain a better explanation for the violations cited.
Obtain a more complete understanding of the specific standards that apply.
Discuss ways to correct violations.
Discuss problems concerning the abatement dates.
Discuss problems concerning employee safety practices.
Resolve disputed violations.
Obtain answers to any other questions you may have.
You are encouraged to take advantage of the opportunity to have an informal conference if you foresee any difficulties in complying with any part of the OSHA Notice. Employee representatives have the right to participate in any informal conference or negotiations between the Area Director or Regional Administrator and the employer.
If you agree that the violations do exist, but you have a valid reason for wishing to extend the abatement date(s), you may discuss this with the Area Director during the informal conference. The Area Director may issue an amended OSHA Notice that changes the abatement date prior to the expiration of the 15 working day period.
Every effort will be made to resolve the issues at an informal conference. If, however, an issue is not resolved by the Area Director, a summary of the discussion together with the agency’s position on the unresolved issues shall be forwarded to the Federal Agency Program Officer (FAPO) within 5 working days of the informal conference.
The FAPO/Regional Administrator will confer with the appropriate Regional agency official before making a decision on the unresolved issues.
If the FAPO/Regional Administrator, in consultation with the Area Director, decides that the item in question should remain unchanged on the OSHA Notice, the appropriate agency officials shall be advised.
If there is still an unresolved issue after the Regional review, the agency may send a letter of appeal to OSHA’s Office of Federal Agency Programs (OFAP).
OFAP will review the disputed issues and discuss these with top agency officials, as appropriate, to obtain resolution. The decision at the National Office level, in consultation with the Regional Administrator, FAPO, and Area Director, is final.
Under the OSHA Act, Executive Order 12196 and 29 CFR Part 1960, Federal agencies do not have the right to contest the OSHA Notice.
Petition for Modification of Abatement (PMA)
Abatement dates are assigned on the basis of the best information available at the time the OSHA Notice is issued. When you are unable to meet an abatement date because of uncontrollable events or other circumstances, you may file a Petition for Modification of Abatement (PMA) with the OSHA Area Director.
The petition must be in writing and must be submitted no later than one working day after the abatement date. To show clearly that you have made a good-faith effort to comply, the PMA must include all of the following information before it can be considered:
Steps you have taken in an effort to achieve compliance and dates they were taken;
Additional time you need to comply;
Why you need the additional time;
Interim steps you are taking to safeguard your employees against the cited hazard(s) until the abatement; and
A certification that the petition has been posted, the date of posting and, when appropriate, a statement that the petition has been furnished to an authorized representative of the affected employees. The petition must remain posted for 10 working days, during which employees may file an objection.
A PMA may be granted or objected to by the OSHA Area Director. If a PMA is granted, a monitoring inspection may be conducted to ensure that conditions are as they have been described and that adequate progress toward abatement has been made.
When agreement to extend the abatement date cannot be reached at the Area Office, the agency may bring unresolved issues to the Regional Administrator/FAPO for resolution with his counterpart in the agency. Issues not resolved at the regional level shall be forwarded to the Director, OFAP, for resolution with agency headquarters in consultation with the Regional Administrator, the FAPO, and the Area Director.
Further information on PMAs may be obtained from any OSHA Area/District office.
Agency heads may apply for approval of an alternate standard where deemed necessary and, after consulting with employees or their representatives, including appropriate safety and health committees, notify the Secretary of Labor and request approval of such standards. The Secretary will not approve alternate standards unless it provides affected employees equivalent or greater protection.
The agency head must provide the Secretary with the following:
A statement of why the agency cannot comply with the OSHA standard or wants to adopt an alternate standard;
A description of the alternate standard;
An explanation of how the alternate standard provides equivalent or greater protection for the affected employees;
A description of interim protective measures afforded employees until a decision is rendered by the Secretary of Labor; and
A summary of written comments, if any, from interested employees, employee representatives, and occupational safety and health committees.
Employees and other interested groups are encouraged to participate in the alternate standard process.
Employee Courses of Action
Employees or their authorized representatives may object to any or all of the abatement dates set for violations if they believe them to be unreasonable. A written notice of their objections must be filed with the OSHA Area Director within 15 working days after the employer receives the OSHA Notice.
The filing of an employee objection does not suspend the employer’s obligation to abate the hazard(s).
Employees also have the right to object to a PMA. Such objections must be in writing and must be sent to the Area Office within 10 days of service or posting.
Follow-up Inspection and Failure to Abate
If you receive a Notice of Unsafe or Unhealthful Working Conditions, a followup inspection may be conducted to verify that you have done the following:
Posted the OSHA Notice as required,
Corrected the violations as required in the OSHA Notice, and/or
Adequately protected employees and made appropriate progress in correcting the hazards during multi-step or lengthy abatement periods.
Any new violations discovered during a followup inspection will be cited, as well as any hazards which have not been abated by the abatement date so specified on the OSHA Notice. The latter violations will be cited in the form of a Failure to Abate Notice.
Executive Order 12196 and 29 CFR Part 1960.46 prohibit Federal agencies from discharging or otherwise discriminating against an employee who has exercised any right under these laws, including the right to make safety and health complaints or to request an OSHA inspection. In addition, Federal employees may have protection for such activity under the Whistleblower Protection Act of 1989.
Complaints from employees who believe they have been discriminated against will be investigated by the Office of Special Counsel except in those agencies not covered by the Whistleblower Act. Agencies exempted from the Whistleblower Act are:
A government corporation, such as the Tennessee Valley Authority;
the Central Intelligence Agency, Defense Intelligence Agency, National Security Agency, or certain other intelligence agencies excluded by the President;
the General Accounting Office;
the U.S. Postal Service or Postal Rate Commission;
the Federal Bureau of Investigation; and,
If the Federal employee’s agency is exempted from the Whistleblower Act, the alleged reprisal is forwarded to the agency’s Designated Agency Safety and Health Official (DASHO).
There is no time limit for filing a complaint with the Office of Special Counsel. To obtain further information on this matter, employees may contact OSHA and/or the Office of Special Counsel.
Providing False Information
All information reported to OSHA by employers and employees must be accurate and truthful.
For further information and assistance, please contact your OSHA Area Director.
A single free copy of the following materials can be obtained from the OSHA Publications Office, 200 Constitution Avenue, N.W., Room N3101, Washington, D.C. 20210, (202) 219-4667
Chemical Hazard Communication (OSHA 3084)
How to Prepare For Workplace Emergencies (OSHA 3088)
Job Hazard Analysis (OSHA 3071)
29 CFR Part 1960, Basic Program Elements for Federal Employee Occupational Safety and Health Programs and Related Matters
Recordkeeping and Reporting Guidelines for Federal Agencies (OSHA 2014) can be obtained from OSHA, Office of Federal Agency Programs, 200 Constitution Avenue, N.W., Room N3112, Washington, D.C. 20210, (202) 219-9329.
Green buildings look like nice places to live and work in. They may also hold the key to Singapore’s fight against climate change as the Garden City continues to grow, says one design expert.
SINGAPORE: It is the year 2500. We travel with driverless cars, Mars is a much loved tourist spot, and robots live and walk among us as peers.
One catch – we’re all underwater, because sea levels have risen more than six metres, based on projections by some scientists.
Returning to present day, Singapore has just turned 52, and we probably should start thinking about how to avoid the above fate.
Singapore’s meteoric economic rise over many decades has launched a landscape of towering skyscrapers in the compact city-state. Her buildings contribute to almost a quarter of all emissions here. Offices, shopping malls, hotels, education institutions and healthcare facilities consume almost a third of Singapore’s electricity.
The greenhouse gases and carbon emissions generated by these buildings and their power sources are contributing to climate change and changing Singapore’s ecosystem’s natural processes, at an increasingly alarming rate.
The global fight against climate change is real, and Singapore, aptly nicknamed the Garden City, might just have the potential to combat it through technology and green building design.
The clean and green environment that Singaporeans enjoy and are so proud of is part of this Garden City’s legacy, left over from earlier decades of the city placing the highest priority on protecting the environment.
For a country that has signed the Paris Climate Change Agreement and been a vocal supporter of environment protection, building design can be a key opportunity to contribute.
Design of a building’s exterior can aid in the fight against climate change. Solar panels are seen here on the rooftop of an office building in Singapore. (File photo: AFP/Roslan Rahman)
Sceptics ask, how does design come into play exactly? Can something that involves so much aesthetic content really make a noticeable dent in an issue as critical as global warming?
GARDEN CITY 2.0
An intensively urban community, Singapore uses a significant amount of energy.
But with the Building Construction Authority aiming for 80 per cent of buildings to be Green Mark-certified by 2030, and awareness about climate change increasing every day, we are on the right track to turn that around.
Green buildings, designed to use resources more efficiently and cause minimal damage to the natural environment, have been hailed as a way to cope with the impact of climate change and reduce the environmental impact of urban living.
Energy, water, indoor environmental quality, materials and so on are all taken into account in the buildings’ planning, design, and construction.
A few commercial buildings in Singapore have jumped on this green bandwagon – many urban planners now weave greenery throughout the city from green roofs that improve solar performance to cascading vertical gardens and verdant walls.
Just look at the architecture of PARKROYAL on Pickering or the interior landscape of Food Garden in Asia Square.
A MODERN SKYSCRAPER THAT USES LESS WATER AND ELECTRICITY
Asia Square has been oft upheld as a shining example – as host to the largest solar panel installation in Singapore and the first bio-diesel plant in a commercial development in the heart of the city.
Even the dining space in its Food Garden has a green wall that contributes to the building’s LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) and Green Mark Platinum status.
The wall is designed out of completely recyclable materials, and is water and energy efficient when it comes to self-maintenance.
Condensed water droplets are collected from air handling units and used to water plants and in toilets in the building, saving precious utility bills.
The results are telling. Asia Square performs in the top 10 per cent of buildings in Singapore, in terms of water efficiency, according to the Public Utilities Board. Compared to other standard commercial buildings, Asia Square consumes 35 per cent less energy.
There is a common misconception that going green is costly, as green materials and products can be expensive.
The truth is that it does not need to be. Even if it does cost more initially, organisations should also balance this against the long-term savings they can reap.
The best returns on these investments are realised when environmental considerations are integrated into the process at the start, rather than as a last-minute effort.
Green building design must be thought of as an investment in the future. Every design element is a choice to reduce environmental impact while still being durable enough to prove functional.
DESIGN CAN JOIN THE CLIMATE CHANGE FIGHT
The fight for climate change is not just the fight of building planners, large organisations or world leaders. It is a fight all of us are in, and losing will have colossal consequences.
Here are five simple ways that anyone, in particular interior designers, can consciously incorporate to design a green building:
1. USE LIGHT COLOURS
The colour of buildings affect heat absorption. Light-coloured paint can help reflect the sun’s heat away from the building. According to Solar Today Magazine, white walls, for example, gain 35 per cent less heat than black walls, therefore requiring less energy to cool the building. Lighter-coloured and brighter aesthetics are thankfully also on trend.
2. MAXIMISE NATURAL LIGHT
Singapore is blessed with an abundance of sunlight and making use of this can save huge amounts of energy. For corporate buildings, position meeting rooms at the periphery, and use mirrors to reflect the light from windows.
An open-plan office made possible by natural lighting can also provide alternative work settings and collaborative areas for a conducive work environment.
3. LEVERAGE TECHNOLOGY
With smart homes becoming the new norm, going green is easier than ever. Installing smart lighting that can be controlled with timers or light and motion sensors can decrease energy usage drastically. Smart home devices present the next step towards green buildings.
4. SELECT INSTALL SUITABLE ELEMENTS THAT PROMOTE SUSTAINABILITY
For instance, one could use linoleum rather than vinyl flooring, since linoleum is made substantially from jute, a naturally occurring fibre, and possesses natural bacteria-resistant properties that make it a perfect choice for the upkeep of spaces.
Every finished product should incorporate strategies for reducing energy consumption and highlight opportunities for reducing, reusing, and recycling waste, including numerous recycling bins within the buildings.
5. WORK WITH STAKEHOLDERS
Consider how to incorporate environmentally-friendly options that stakeholders may be open to. While not everyone may be invested in fighting climate change because of misconceptions or even ignorance, interior designers can play a part in involving climate change in the conversation.
MARRYING DESIGN AND SUSTAINABILITY
Singapore has pledged to reduce our emissions intensity by 36 per cent from the 2005 levels by 2030. While continuing to play our part in the global community, we must also ensure that the fight against climate change starts from within.
The upcoming Singapore Green Building Week seeks to catalyse behavioural change at the individual, interpersonal and community levels. Now, more than ever, is a good time to think about what exactly is needed to step up our game as a green city.
Most of us are not radical environmentalists, but all of us want a sustainable future.
We have the opportunity to create man-made structures that enhance the existing landscape. Designers therefore have a responsibility to find ways to balance aesthetics and functionality with choices to reduce the environmental impact.
From something as seemingly frivolous as changing colours, to something more strategic like working with various stakeholders to make calculated, eco-friendly plans, design can pave the way to a greener future.
When designers make the conscious decision to choose finishes, furniture and lighting that are sustainable, we increase our chances of having a better quality of life.
Design can be a key weapon to aid in Singapore’s fight against climate change. And it is up to us to design a future where we are not all living underwater.
Derek MacKenzie is managing director of designphase dba which has designed buildings like the new Tiong Bahru Plaza.
Read more at http://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/singapore/commentary-green-buildings-singapore-s-natural-ally-for-a-9183380
You likely hear the term indoor air quality (IAQ) frequently when it comes to facility management, but do you recognize exactly what this means for building occupants and the overall bottom line? IAQ refers to air quality within and around buildings and structures, commonly as it relates to the health and comfort of building occupants. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), 90% of our time is spent indoors. Now think about the occupants in your buildings and imagine invisible pollutants, debris, and bacteria in the air and how those can impact their health.
Facility managers face a lot of pressure when it comes to maintaining IAQ and implementing proper practices and prevention measures—and for good reason. The impact of poor IAQ hits on many factors important to facility management. Two to focus on include the health and safety of occupants and a building’s energy efficiency.
There are immediate and long-term health effects from poor IAQ. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) states these can range from minor irritations, such as headaches and dizziness, to serious issues such as respiratory diseases, heart disease, and cancer.
A big contributor to the increased pressure on facility managers is the recent deadly outbreaks of Legionnaires’ disease throughout the country and the approval of ASHRAE Standard 188-2015. The disease is caused by Legionella bacteria that can grow within a building’s water system and spread via droplets of water in the air. Cooling towers are one of the more common sources of Legionella. And while cooling towers are primarily located outside, the CPSC says the contaminants can enter a building through ventilation systems, door openings, windows, and other similar areas. The ASHRAE standard puts a greater amount of responsibility on facility management to take proper steps to inspect and maintain systems to minimize the risk of Legionnaires’ disease.
Bjarne Olesen, chairperson for the International Center for Indoor Environment and Energy in Denmark and 2017-18 ASHRAE president, conducted a study that indicated that limiting pollution sources and making improvements to air quality can increase employee performance by 5% to 10%. A study by William Fisk with Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory found that reducing Sick Building Syndrome (allergies, asthma, and respiratory issues) by 20% to 50% could result in savings between $10 billion and $100 billion nationwide through prevention of productivity loss, sick days, and costs for medical care.
Many things influence the quality of indoor air including deteriorating building materials and outdoor sources, but one common cause (and one more easily maintained) is a building’s central heating and cooling system. Proper maintenance and upkeep of HVAC systems can go a long way to improving IAQ. The good news is, by performing routine maintenance and cleaning on heating and cooling systems, you can reduce the risk of indoor air pollution from certain sources, while also keeping equipment running efficiently.
Here are some best practices for maintenance teams to use to take steps toward improved indoor air quality.
Coil cleaning: Dirty coils waste energy and money. Without proper cleaning, air conditioning coils in the air handlers can become breeding grounds for mold and mildew growth—both of which are large contributors to poor IAQ.
Air duct cleaning: Dirty ducts can be a common cause of indoor air pollutants. Because duct surfaces are hidden from view, these are easily forgotten and can accumulate dust, pollen, mold, and more. These in turn can collect on coils and recirculate. Much like dirty coils, dirty ducts can cause the system to run longer which raises energy costs. A thorough duct cleaning every three to five years will keep your system in great working condition. There are several tools for duct cleaning including vacuums, agitation devices, and duct isolation equipment.
Cooling tower cleaning: Cooling towers are used to cool water in air conditioning systems, but they are also a breeding ground for Legionella and other bacteria. Infected towers can spread bacteria into facilities through ventilation and entrances. Many facilities don’t equate the direct connection between IAQ and tower maintenance, and the importance of keeping a cooling tower maintained regarding the energy efficiency of a building’s cooling system. Inspecting cooling towers monthly helps prevent sediment, scale, and slime buildup; if these residues are found during inspection, they can be easily cleaned with tower vacuums to avoid shutting down or draining the system.
Cooling tower water treatments: When it comes to cooling towers, water treatment is very important in supporting system efficiency and good indoor air quality. Simply put, cooling towers are big air scrubbers. Outside air that is drawn into the tower is contaminated with pollutants, which then build up causing conditions for bacterial growth. Throughout the cooling system, the pollutants are precipitated out of the water and are dispersed into the air, or adhere to chiller tube walls, leaving a breeding ground for organisms and bacteria if not properly controlled. Chemical water treatments can protect against these issues helping manage scale, corrosion, and controlling growth of harmful bacteria that can, in advanced cases, cause serious health implications such as Legionnaires’ disease.
Filter replacement and selection: Air filters are often the first line of defense in protecting indoor air from outside pollutants. It’s important to select the appropriate air filter for the system. Most filters have a MERV rating, which stands for Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value. This rating is measured from 1 (the lowest) to 16 (the highest) and can be a great indication to the quality of the filter you choose. Filters with MERV ratings between 14 and 16 are recommended.
Chemicals review: It is important to follow EPA and OSHA guidelines and restrictions when using chemical treatments for cooling towers, as well as referring to SDS sheets and following all safety procedures. Make sure the chemicals used have been scientifically tested and are labeled for the specific cleaning process being performed. It is also important to check that these chemicals work effectively to protect the indoor air from contamination. Simple chemical disinfectants like chlorine are insufficient to fight against bacteria and pollutants.
When it comes down to it, facility executives and their teams are at the forefront of costs savings and occupant safety. Through proactive maintenance of HVAC systems, occupant health and productivity along with energy efficiency can be expected to benefit.
Takeshi Ebisu took in the quiet stretch of Harris County prairie, some 40 miles northwest of Houston and half a world from his native Japan. The most memorable thing he saw was a cow walking near a pond.
Three years later, the pasture near the Waller County line has been transformed into a vast and modern manufacturing space, where Ebisu oversees a staff of thousands of engineers and welders, fabricators and warehousers as CEO of Goodman Manufacturing and the place where just about every Goodman, Daikin and Amana air conditioner or heating unit sold in the U.S. and Canada is made.
Ebisu’s gleaming domain rises up as a surprise to drivers speeding along U.S. 290 toward Brenham. It covers some 94 acres under a single roof, the equivalent of 37 conventional city blocks, making the plant No. 2 behind a Boeing jetliner-assembly plant on the nation’s list of largest industrial buildings.
But its enormity also can be measured in less physical terms, as a multibillion-dollar generator of well-paying jobs to produce and supply the units in the world’s biggest market for them. Bob Harvey, president of the Greater Houston Partnership, calls the Daikin Texas Technology Park, named for its Japanese corporate parent, “one of the few projects that actually shows up as far as moving the needle” on the region’s gross domestic output.
Photo: Steve Gonzales, Staff
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The $417 million Daikin Texas Technology Park is expected to put about 5,000 people to work in the Houston area through direct employment and related businesses.
“It’s not often that we have an individual project of that scale,” he says.
Indeed, the $417 million facility is expected to put about 5,000 people to work in the Houston area through direct employment and the expected arrival of related businesses. Already, a Chinese company that supplies electric motors to Daikin companies is preparing to build its U.S. headquarters and an assembly plant less than a mile away.
RELATED: Chinese investment in Texas grows; thousands in Houston draw pay from Chinese companies
‘A huge deal’
Though it has been in operation since October, the new Daikin plant will celebrate its opening Wednesday with tours, a Clint Black concert and remarks by Gov. Greg Abbott and former Japanese Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda.
“It is a huge deal,” said John Isom, director of the Waller Economic Development Corp.
In all, the campus is expected to generate about $4 billion in annual economic impact for Houston, which is one reason Business Facilities magazine named it the deal of the year nationally for 2015.
The governor’s office of economic development has said the project is one of the largest job expansions in Texas in recent memory but couldn’t produce an exact figure because the office was not involved in attracting the investment.
Daikin, a 93-year-old, $24 billion company ranked No. 478 on Forbes’ list of the world’s largest publicly traded companies, manufactures heating and cooling units in more than 80 countries and sells them in about 150.
The company’s move into Houston began in 2012, when it bought Houston-based Goodman Global Inc. for $3.7 billion, making it the largest air conditioner manufacturer in the world, according to Reuters. At the time, Harvey feared a foreign purchase of a well-established local company meant jobs would be shipped overseas.
He was pleased to find the opposite.
“Sometimes foreign investment is seen as hostile, but this is an example of how it creates growth and opportunity,” Harvey said.
Daikin planned to move other parts of its international operation to Houston, but the company felt the two local Goodman plants and one engineering center were too small to house the operation it had in mind.
RELATED: Houston AC company Goodman sells for a cool $3.7 billion
Ebisu, a seasoned company executive, was tapped to move to Houston, take the helm at Goodman and oversee the development of a new North American operation.
In an interview at the new Daikin building, beneath a ventilation unit programmed to follow individuals around the room with a light stream of conditioned air, Ebisu named the Goodman acquisition as Daikin’s top reason for settling in Houston. He said other factors, like Texas’ portfolio of universities, made the decision easier.
“We feel the engineering ability in the Houston area is superb,” Ebisu said. “We can acquire quality-talent workers here.”
Workers from three Goodman facilities in Houston and one in Tennessee will be relocated to the new Daikin plant, and those facilities will close.
The new plant broke ground in March 2015, opened its distribution center in February 2016 and turned out its first unit in October. Now, 10 assembly lines are churning inside the cavernous space, with 11 more under construction.
From raw materials
From atop a catwalk above the manufacturing floor, at least one of the four tall walls seems always out of site, obscured by the distance inside a building that spans nearly half a mile on its longest edge.
New units come off each assembly line every few minutes. They start as raw materials – coils of copper or packs of sheet metal loaded in through the plant’s west bays, then put one by one onto a moving conveyor belt. Machine presses bend parts into shape while workers fit them together and braze them with a blowtorch.
Workers down the line install fans and motors, side panels and electrical hardware, while others operate mechanical arms that perform heavy operations before the units pass through a series of tests. A worker puts on one last sticker, and the units get boxed and stacked and hauled off to a heaping pile in the warehouse, awaiting a space in the back of a big rig.
“It’s going straight from raw materials to finished products to our customers in one flow,” said Michelle Jack, vice president of general affairs at Daikin and project manager for the Daikin Texas Technology Park.
On the factory floor, managers pedal across the vast distances on large tricycles, while robotic trolleys ferry cargo around marked loops and carts and forklifts move products down highways drawn on the concrete floor.
Outside the factory walls, hundreds of trucks pull in and out daily, dropping off raw materials or picking up HVAC units along 240 docks, then driving them cross country to Daikin’s 1,200 distribution locations.
“If you buy Daikin in the U.S. or Canada, it’s probably made here,” said Rex Anderson, communications director for Goodman.
The hub of commerce on such lightly developed land is sure to attract more nearby investment. One Daikin supplier is already setting up shop. And, said Waller Mayor Danny Marburger, “There will be more coming.”
“That whole area is going to continue to build up with suppliers and other companies,” he said.
Broad-Ocean Motor Co., a China-based manufacturer of electric motors and a supplier to Daikin, already is constructing a 480,000-square-foot manufacturing and distribution facility on U.S. 290, less than a mile from the Daikin plant.
RELATED: Demand for warehouses booms as Houston becomes ‘hub of distribution’
That building will be the company’s base of U.S. operations and will allow it to provide “localized service to Daikin,” said Jason Huang, Broad-Ocean vice president of manufacturing, who relocated from China to Houston last May to oversee the Waller County project.
The company plans to inhabit a third of the space it has under construction and lease out the rest to other suppliers as they move in.
“It shouldn’t be that difficult” to find tenants, Huang said. “A lot of suppliers will need to find space nearby for warehousing or manufacturing.”
Some city officials said one supplier of packaging material and one supplier of insulation were also on the hunt for a land deal in the area. Others predicted it would boost demand for thousands of homes set to hit the market soon in a handful of new subdivisions built in response to the Grand Parkway.
Introducing new tech
The Daikin plant also could bring a hub of technological innovation.
In addition to manufacturing, warehousing and office space, the facility includes 200,000 square feet of laboratory space for research and development. Rows of fortified chambers can subject heating or cooling units to bouts of heat, cold, rain, pressure or salt spray under the watchful eye of engineers.
Daikin could develop its products at scores of other facilities across the world, but Ebisu said the company wants to develop products specific to this market.
“The American people know best the American people’s needs and demands,” he said. “Whatever is sold and consumed in that region should be designed and manufactured in the region.”
Ebisu aims to introduce new technology to the U.S. market, specifically “variant refrigerant volume,” or VRV, a system invented by Daikin in the 1980s that allows for targeted room-by-room heating and cooling. It is also substantially more efficient in terms of power consumption, thanks to electrical inverters that allow for variable speeds at various parts of the unit instead of simple on and off.
Ebisu said the technology already is widely adopted in Japan.
“The U.S. is probably the worst in terms of efficiency of the HVAC unit,” he added, citing weak government regulatory standards here that make it hard for the higher-tech units to compete financially. “We’d like to bring those technologies to this marketplace.”
The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration announced a delay in enforcement of the crystalline silica standard that applies to the construction industry to conduct additional outreach and provide educational materials and guidance for employers.
OSHA has determined that additional guidance is necessary due to the unique nature of the requirements in the construction standard. Originally scheduled to begin June 23, 2017, enforcement will now begin Sept. 23, 2017.
However, despite the standard’s delay, OSHA expects construction employers to continue to take steps either to come into compliance with the new permissible exposure limit, or to implement specific dust controls for certain operations as provided in Table 1 of the standard.
OSHA’s final rule to protect workers from exposure to respirable crystalline silica includes these key provisions:
Reduces the permissible exposure limit (PEL) for respirable crystalline silica to 50 micrograms per cubic meter of air, averaged over an 8-hour shift.
Requires employers to: use engineering controls (such as water or ventilation) to limit worker exposure to the PEL; provide respirators when engineering controls cannot adequately limit exposure; limit worker access to high exposure areas; develop a written exposure control plan, offer medical exams to highly exposed workers, and train workers on silica risks and how to limit exposures.
Provides medical exams to monitor highly exposed workers and gives them information about their lung health.
Provides flexibility to help employers — especially small businesses — protect workers from silica exposure.
Construction employers should also continue to prepare to implement the standard’s other requirements, including exposure assessment, medical surveillance and employee training.
OSHA estimates 2 million construction workers who drill, cut, crush, or grind silica-containing materials such as concrete and stone, and 300,000 workers in general industry operations such as brick manufacturing, foundries, and hydraulic fracturing are affected by the final rule.
See also: OSHA’s Crystalline Silica website for working safely with silica and how to prevent its non-curable health effects.
Health conscious people often cite an old adage about water that says, “If you are not drinking filtered water, then you are the filter.” The same is true of the air that we breathe. If you are not breathing filtered air, then you are the filter. For facility management leaders, ensuring that air is filtered properly is largely dependent on the cleaning and maintenance of HVAC units. However, many use harsh chemicals that do not properly clean the unit, and may harm building occupants.
It’s a catch-22 for many facilities maintenance professionals. Without cleaning the HVAC units, indoor air quality will suffer. Yet, the cleaning products used to clean these units may do more harm than good.
The Hidden Cost of Chemical Cleaners
The problem is that the two-way foaming chemical cleaners that are often used to clean cooling coils within HVAC units can make their way into the aquifer and compromise the building’s water system.
The fact that many of these cleaners come with warning labels about the toxicity of its contents should be reason enough to not use them on such a critical system within a building. However, chemical cleaners can also compromise the integrity of the cooling coils. In some cases, harsh chemicals can erode the aluminum and copper and require facilities to replace parts of, or even their whole, HVAC unit.
What’s more, conventional cleaning products are not always an effective means of cleaning the high efficiency cooling coils found within HVAC units. While systems may appear clean on the surface, these products push dust and debris further into the unit, which can create blockages in the system and initiate mold and bacteria growth.
This can lead to excessive operating costs, comfort control problems, and unhealthy sanitary conditions that are not conducive to good air quality. As a result, building occupants may experience allergy-like symptoms, coughing, wheezing, watery eyes, asthma-type conditions, and other symptoms.
In some cases, poor indoor air quality can even affect an individual’s ability to perform specific mental tasks. The worse the air quality, the more likely that the building’s occupants are affected by these symptoms—and that is a liability to the organization and/or property owner.
A Better Cleaning Process
To safely and effectively clean HVAC units, facilities managers can consider a green steam clean process. One process uses steam heated to 350°F at 350 psi to deep clean cooling coils, which is a much more effective and safer cleaning method than topical chemical treatment.
While some have tried to duplicate this process with pressure washing systems, these typically operate at around 2,000 psi and can bend the fins of the cooling coils and negatively impact airflow. The key to the steam cleaning process is the more moderate pressure that pushes steam through the coils to clean the system without compromising its integrity.
While chemical cleaners may only penetrate a 1/2″ of the coils, the steam clean process can penetrate 8″ to 12″ into the coils, for deep cleansing that removes dust and debris, and kills mold and bacteria instantaneously.
In most cases, spore counts will drop by 99% (and sometimes 100%) in units that are cleaned using this process. The result is increased airflow, improved indoor air quality, and improved comfort for building occupants.