The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has cited Newton, Mass.-based Unicco Service Co. for alleged willful and repeat violations of safety standards following a June 8 accident that killed one worker and severely injured another during the cleaning of a four-story building’s windows in Burlington, Mass. Unicco faces a total of $152,500 in proposed fines.

Unicco does not agree with the recommendations and feels there are some inaccuracies in the report. They specifically disagree with the assertion that the company is indifferent to safety. Unicco has contested the proposed fines and met with OSHA regarding the incident. The meeting was productive and more are planned in the coming weeks, according to Unicco spokesman Doug Bailey.

OSHA’s investigation found that equipment was used improperly and employees were not properly trained for handling such equipment. In addition, this incident occurred just two years after two Unicco window cleaners were killed in a fall at a worksite in Boston.

Incidents such as these remind building service contractors that cleaning workers are among the most likely to be injured on the job, according to a 2003 study by the U.S. Department of Labor. Safety always needs to be a top priority.

OSHA stresses that prior to starting work, a competent person conduct an inspection of equipment, ensuring that it is assembled and set up properly. Employees should be effectively trained in a hands-on manner, and training be repeated if necessary.

“Know and adhere to applicable standards, whether they are industry or OSHA standards,” says OSHA spokesman Ted Fitzgerald.

If contractors have further questions or need clarification, they can visit the OSHA web site, contact their local OSHA office, a compliance assistant specialist, a safety and health inspector or their insurance carrier.

Green Continues To Expand

Building service contractors looking to go green will have plenty of avenues to turn to for assistance. The environmentally-conscious movement has progressed at a rapid pace over the past couple of years. Here is a sampling of recent green achievements:

  • In December, a new green certification for commercial and residential cleaning products, currently called Greenstar, began development. Proposed to be a non-profit organization, Greenstar will first focus on certifying chemicals, then possibly address paper products and other disposables. The program may become a competitor with the well-known, Washington, D.C.-based Green Seal.

  • Technical Concepts, Mundelein, Ill., has become a member of the Washington D.C.-based U.S. Green Building Council.

  • Racine Industries, Racine, Wis.; Kaivac, Hamilton, Ohio; Wausau Paper/Bay West, Mosinee, Wis.; and Ecolab, St. Paul, Minn., have announced their sponsorship of Green Seal Inc.’s Cleaning Service Standard.

  • Chicago-based PortionPac Chemical Corp. has been honored as the first company chosen for the Sustainable Leadership Project by the Chicago Manufacturing Center and as a “Sustainable Pioneer” by Natural Capitalism Solutions.

  • For products, SCA Tissue, Neenah, Wis., is the first American sanitary paper manufacturer to have their products earn the Environmental Choice Program certification. Racine Industries‘ HOST Dry Extraction Carpet Cleaning System is the first carpet-cleaning product to be certified as “Biobased” by the United States Department of Agriculture.

JohnsonDiversey Inc., Sturtevant, Wis., announced the appointment of Edward F. Lonergan as president and CEO. Lonergan joins the company after nearly four years as president of the European region for the Gillette Co. Lonergan previously spent 21 years with The Procter & Gamble Co. His appointment is effective February 13, 2006.

Vacuum manufacturer ProTeam, Boise, Idaho, announced that it has renewed its agreement with the American Lung Association to help Americans understand indoor air quality issues and to create healthier indoor environments.

The three-year agreement will focus on joint activities geared at helping the commercial cleaning industry better understand the importance of healthy indoor air.

Sam Robin, Pacific Floor Care consultant and former owner, passed away after a brief illness on December 3, 2005. Robin started his career as a sanitary supply distributor before acquiring Pacific Floor Machine in 1952. Robin sold Pacific Floor Machine Manufacturing Co. to Larry Hines in 1985 and continued to work as a consultant and representative. He represented the company for almost 54 years.

Mergers & Other Moves
  • Atlanta-based Georgia-Pacific Corp. has been purchased by Koch Industries Inc., Wichita, Kan., for $13.2 billion in a deal that makes the company a privately held Koch subsidiary. The deal has a total enterprise value of $21 billion, which includes all Georgia-Pacific debt.

    Joseph W. Moeller was named as Georgia-Pacific’s president and CEO. Former chairman and CEO A.D. “Pete” Correll will continue with the company as chairman of the board to assist in the transition.

  • The longtime management group of ACS Industries Inc., Woonsocket, R.I., consisting of Steven Buckler, Jeff Gold, Peter Botvin and Walter Raudonis, recently concluded the purchase of the Scrubble Products Division, a division of ACS, from the estate of George Botvin, the former chairman and majority shareholder who passed away on March 2, 2005.