How 'green' is your office?

  • Published
  • By M. Wayne Cain
  • 97th Civil Engineer Squadron
An upcoming inspection will impact every organization on Altus Air Force Base.
The Air Education and Training Command's Environmental, Safety and Occupational Health Compliance Assessment and Management Program inspection, Oct. 23-27, will evaluate management of air emissions, cultural resources, hazardous material, hazardous waste, natural resources, other environmental issues, pesticide management, petroleum products, solid waste, store tank, toxic substances, waste water, water quality, safety, occupational health, and environmental restoration programs. 

This year, the AETC inspection team will be assisted by contracted environmental experts in their respective fields. The team will assess the overall health of the programs at Altus AFB. Findings identified by the team may be positive or negative. Negative findings are issues of noncompliance of federal, state, or local laws, and Department of Defense or Air Force requirements. They may be classified as significant, high vulnerability, low vulnerability, or management practice. 

Items listed as hazardous include common household materials, such as furniture polish, Windex, flammable air fresheners, WD-40 and bleach, to name a few. If these items are in an office environment they must be approved for use by the Installation Hazardous Material Management Office, bar coded and with a material safety data sheet on hand. 

"Our environmental concerns involve everyone on base who uses a hazardous material, consumes energy, and produces waste," said Mr.Dan Staton, Civil Engineers Squadron environmental flight chief. "The environment is not the just the responsibility of Civil Engineers and the Environmental Office; stewardship belongs to each individual." 

"We are required to be in compliance with environmental protection laws and executive orders," said Mr. Mike Reyes, Civil Engineers Squadron EMS manager. "In addition to compliance, we need to be as "Green" as possible in our environmental focus, recycling and purchasing recycled projects. For example green procurement requires us to buy recycled paper. Recycling also keeps many reusable materials, such as cardboard, some types of plastic, aluminum and tin cans, junk mail, rechargeable batteries, etc., from going to a landfill." 

The Occupational Safety and Health performance-based goal is that all workers in the United States be provided with a safe and healthy working environment.
Effective occupational health programs bring cost savings and increased productivity due to less worker downtime, lower medical costs and fewer workmen's compensation claims. 

"The key driver is going beyond compliance in order to reduce or eliminate health hazards to workers," said TSgt Richard Charles. "We want to find and fix our problems internally instead of relying on external inspectors to find weaknesses."
Safety issues that will be covered in the inspection include training and proper use of personal protective equipment, proper storage of hazardous materials, proper ground plugs on electrical cords, paper cutters safety, extension cords used in lieu of permanent wiring, safe workplace equipment and the confined space program. 

A significant finding requires immediate action and poses, (or has a high likelihood of posing), a direct and immediate threat to human health, safety, the environment, or the installation mission. 

A high vulnerability identifies a condition that has a high likelihood of resulting in an enforcement action from a regulatory agency. 

A low vulnerability identifies a condition that has a low likelihood of resulting in an enforcement action from regulatory, or temporary and occasional instances of noncompliance. 

A management practice identifies a problem based on Department of Defense or Air Force requirements separate from law. These also involve recommendations for reducing risks and improving environmental, safety and occupational health management functions. 

Positive findings identify conditions that serve as an exemplary standard of good compliance. 

Notices of discrepancies that are fixed are due to CEV by close of business today. Turn in outdated hazardous materials by Oct. 2. 

October, leading up to the inspection, will be an education month. The goal is for everyone to realize that the environment is not just the responsibility of Civil Engineers and the Environmental Office; stewardship belongs to each individual. 

The Hazardous Materials Management Office is available to assist and has MSDS documents for many products. Call 481-7504 for assistance.