MASBO News - 2014 - (Page 27)

SAFE AND HEALTHY CRAWL SPACES By Pierre Dufault, WPS&H Officer, Winnipeg School Division A h, the dreaded crawl space. Most people think a crawl space is dark and dingy and out of sight, out of mind. I want to change this trend and convince you that it is more than just a dreaded place to visit. These areas often house heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) equipment, are connected to the boiler rooms and are in direct contact with at least the main floor of the occupied spaces. One could relate these systems to a human body. The boiler system would be similar to your circulatory system and the HVAC system is similar to your respiratory system. If you were to alter or contaminate these systems, you will affect the health of your body. The same may be said of your building. Many things can be learned about our schools/buildings by simply assessing and inspecting their crawl spaces. We can often identify hazards that could potentially affect indoor air quality and the occupants' health (we can talk about these at a later date). Crawl spaces are commonly used for storage, however, this practice contradicts most Building/ Fire Codes and poses a health and safety risk. This would be one major, yet easily avoidable, "contaminant" to a building. Most divisions already have some sort of crawl space entry program. Most crawl spaces are not considered true confined spaces. While this is still being debated, we still have to have some sort of entry procedures. Yes, there are hazards associated with entering crawl spaces. Programs include communication procedures, minimum requirements for personal protective equipment, and basic information regarding the space. All staff and any authorized worker are required to follow this program. It is imperative, as owners or owner's representatives, that we ensure all workers follow the program whether they are staff or contractors. No longer is it acceptable to simply say "be careful." Programs 27 * MASBO NEWS 2014 are not created to discourage the work from being done but rather to protect the worker from the hazards identified. Everyone must remember that these programs are only the basic requirements needed to enter the space. Conditions may change from hour to hour, day to day, week to week and season to season. A quick assessment of the area before entering the space is needed each and every time. Many crawl spaces have some sort of mechanical or natural ventilation, which serves to address many common issues, including radon and humidity. Each has a different outcome and may result in very different health issues. Increasing exhaust ventilation decreases the levels of these hazards to the point that they are no longer a concern. Regular inspections and testing can help identify elevated levels so that they can be dealt with appropriately. Mould is common in crawl spaces, however, it normally does not pose a

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of MASBO News - 2014

MASBO 2013–2014 Executive
2013–2014 Committees
Message from the Minister
Message from the MASBO President
Message from the Executive Director
Honourary/Life Members
MASBO Annual General Meeting and Conference “Embracing Diversity”
MASBO Welcomes a New Executive Member
2014 Inaugural Grey Owl Award Recipient
Retention and Recruitment of Transportation Staff
Project Profile: Northlands Parkway Collegiate
Diversity Debunks Group Think!
Property Taxation Supporting Education: Fact and Fiction
Learning from Our Diversity: Canadian Association of School Business Leadership Group
Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) Programs for Schools
Safe and Healthy Crawl Spaces
Index to Advertisers

MASBO News - 2014