March 2012: Occupant Health and Safety

Occupant Health & Safety

As we go about our daily lives in the Home Performance world we should never lose sight of the number one directive of the Guidelines–putting health & safety first–nor the first guiding principle of BPI, “first, do no harm.”  One needs to be mindful of the products to be used and installation methods not only pre-installation, but also during the retrofit phase and the “house we are creating” moments, hours and days afterwards.

When I worked as a director for a WAP (Weatherization Assistance Program), our funders– DHCR (Division of Housing and Community Renewal) and the CAP (Community Action Program)–required that current MSDS sheets were in all of our vehicles not only for employee health & safety, but as a legal and moral obligation to those clients and the environments were impacting.

I know we strive ultimately to make these indoor environments healthier, safer, more durable and energy efficient but sometimes we may in the process actually negatively impact the occupant’s health and safety. Whether it is: providing valuable communication, sealing off workspaces, allowing for proper curing/settling times, providing dedicated ventilation, covering items and cleaning up we may end up being responsible on more levels than we may be aware of. That being said, it is absolutely critical that all contractors effectively question and communicate with clients regarding the materials, installations and possible effects as an ongoing exercise to safe guard everyone’s health and safety.

Some contractors lay all this out in the contract that they have the client sign and thereby have the lines or responsibility clearly defined as to what they are on the hook for, and, what the client is ultimately responsible for. If any of you would like some language and ideas around this issue I would be more than happy to provide some example on an individual basis, and, as they use to say on Hill Street Blues, “be careful out there!”


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