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Emergencies are defined by the Oxford Dictionary as a serious, unexpected, and often dangerous situation requiring immediate action. Emergencies in all shapes and sizes can occur at any time without warning and have the potential to be a major headache for building owners and managers, occupants, workforces and homeowners and tenants. Indoor air quality can be easily overlooked during the first few moments of an urgent response to an emergency situation. The health, safety, wellness, and comfort of building occupants, workers, first responders, contractors and any others involved in the response and recovery may depend on choices made early in the process following an emergency.

RHP Risk Management’s team consisting of trained, credentialed and experienced Certified Industrial Hygienists (CIHs), Public Health Professionals, Certified Safety Professionals and licensed building inspectors are well situated to swiftly respond to client needs and provide guidance during challenging situations. By providing a health and safety and industrial hygiene perspective we work with clients to minimize exposures to hazardous materials, including building debris, immediately following an emergency such as:

Mold Investigations / Mold Remediation Oversight

Building structures of all types and sizes are potentially vulnerable to mold damage. Microscopic mold spores are abundant in nature and are ever present inside and outside of buildings. When water intrusion or high humidity occur in the built environment, mold spores activate and grow into colonies. Indoor mold growth in built environments can generate unpleasant odors, cause adverse health effects, degrade building materials, and reduce a building’s value.

RHP’s professionals have decades of experience in investigating the presence and causation of mold growth in a variety of building types including commercial, institutional, and healthcare settings. RHP services include inspections, detection, testing, remediation specifications, remediation oversight and verification.

Fire Restoration

Cooking, heating, electrical, smoking and candles; these are the top five causes of fires according to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA). Regardless of the cause, fires are often challenging to navigate for all involved parties.

Once a fire has been extinguished, it is necessary for property owners to take steps in determining the extent of damage and assess the condition of their structure. An initial step following a fire is to contact your insurance company who will assist in the process of evaluating damage and determining coverage. An adjuster may come out in person or may send out a qualified inspector or expert to assess the building, the extent of damage, and some health and safety risks. Depending on a number of factors a structural engineer may be needed to determine the extent of structural damage and soundness of the building.  

Finding and hiring an experienced professional to evaluate the extent of fire and smoke damage within a building structure is key to a successful remediation project. An industrial hygienist who understands sampling strategies, reliable laboratory methodology and remediation procedures will provide a smoother path towards safely and swiftly reopening/reoccupying your building following a fire. An Industrial Hygienist provides the skills necessary to arbitrate or bridge the gap between differing stakeholders’ (homeowners, building owners, insurance representatives, and community and business leaders) opinions or objectives utilizing objective analytical evidence. The end goal for hiring an Industrial Hygienist is to assist in returning your property to its pre-fire condition and ensure safety for workers, employees and occupants.

Other Services:

Asbestos – Bulk samples of materials collected in buildings following a water intrusion event and prior to interior demolition should be evaluated for asbestos content. Air samples are collected following a disturbance of a known or suspected asbestos-containing material.

Biological pollutants (mold & bacteria) – Exposure to airborne mold and bacteria associated with an emergency response project may cause a severe respiratory response to certain individuals.

Carbon Monoxide (CO) – When a CO detector goes off within a building or home, the local fire department should be called immediately. RHP professionals’ expertise may provide assistance with source identification (diesel truck parked outside or cracked heat exchanger in a furnace) or collecting measurements throughout a building using direct-read instrumentation.

Lead – Worker health and safety is the primary consideration when exposure to lead is a concern during an emergency situation. Appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) including respiratory protection, management of lead-containing dust and waste characterization are three primary focus areas for RHP’s consultants when responding to an emergency demolition project.

Particulate Matter (PM) – Acute exposure to particulate matter following an unexpected event may present respiratory complications for certain individuals. Characterization of the PM using direct-read instrumentation is often completed to understand the associated risks of exposure and management of lingering airborne PM.

RHP professionals have the skills and expertise to provide guidance during critical early stages in a response including: assessing a structure or building for damage and residual effect from the emergency with state-of-the-art monitoring and testing equipment; collecting information and identifying sources of materials/products of concern; consulting with parties including restoration contractors and insurers on procedures and mitigation plans; and providing tools and guidance to ensure indoor air quality is safe for occupancy. We work in lockstep with restoration professionals, contractors and insurance representatives to get our client right side as quickly as possible.

Contact RHP for an initial consultation and learn more about our professional services.

For further references and RHP White Papers on the topic, see: rhprisk.com/white-papers