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Planning Guide for Maintaining School Facilities
Home/Introduction
Chapter 1
  Introduction to School Facilities Maintenance Planning
Chapter 2
    Planning for School Facilities Maintenance
Chapter 3
    Facility Audits: Knowing What You Have
Chapter 4
    Providing a Safe Environment for Learning
Chapter 5
    Maintaining School Facilities and Grounds
Chapter 6
    Effectively Managing Staff and Contractors
Chapter 7
    Evaluating Facilities Maintenance Efforts
Appendices
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Chapter 4
Providing a Safe Environment for Learning

GOAL:
  Image of Checkmark To identify environmental- and safety-related topics that demand an education organization's undivided attention


Maintenance efforts must, first and foremost, ensure safe building conditions-in other words, safety takes priority over cleanliness, orderliness, cost-effectiveness, and even instructional support.

Ensuring Environmental Safety

Image of KeysFacilities maintenance is concerned first and foremost with ensuring safe conditions for facility users-be they students, teachers, staff, parents, or guests. As important as cleanliness, orderliness, and instructional support may be to facilities planners, occupant safety must always be the top priority. Thus, while it may be difficult to define what, precisely, constitutes a "safe" environment, it is fair to say that ensuring safe conditions is a major component of effective school facility management.

The role of facilities managers in ensuring building safety has changed in recent years. One of their chief responsibilities now is to supervise the implementation of numerous environmental regulations governing school facilities and grounds and to verify compliance with a host of regulations and laws. Thus, the successful management of a school environment has grown well beyond the capabilities of a single person.

 

The primary responsibility of school facility planners is to ensure environmental safety in school facilities.
Environmental regulations designed to protect people or the environment are many and varied, and may seem overwhelming to the uninitiated reader. Yet most environmental safety regulations require only minimal monitoring and compliance efforts unless a problem is identified.

The first step in complying with environmental regulations is to become aware of their existence, intent, applicability, and requirements. Most of this information is available from regulatory agencies, professional associations, and on-the-job training. Getting this information may not always be expensive, but it does demand considerable expertise, either hired or developed. In any case, compliance with environmental safety rules pays off relative to the alternative-the possible occurrence of significant indoor air problems, underground storage tank leaks, contaminated drinking water, or other serious environment-related safety or health incidents.

Would You Want to Drink the Water?

Image of Eagle with HammerThe water inspection team showed up at the school at 7:00 a.m. sharp. Samples from the first fountain showed lead levels just below the maximum allowed by the EPA. When the second and third fountains showed lead levels above the legal standards, Phil, the chief inspector, went straight to the principal's office to explain the situation. Mr. Jackson shook his head incredulously, "Phil, that can't be right! We had a water inspection team in here just yesterday and everything was fine." He showed Phil the paperwork to prove it.

"Well," Phil replied, "we obviously need to revise our work order system because you shouldn't have been inspected twice in the same week-but even so, I can't disregard the results of the tests we just did." "No you can't," Mr. Jackson agreed, "but you can retest them just to make sure." Phil nodded and went back to the fountains, retested, and got the same results. Mr. Jackson looked perplexed, but said, "Okay, Phil, we'll shut down the bad fountains until we can figure out what's going on." After several days of additional testing, Phil determined that the drinking water failed to meet EPA requirements each day until the water had been allowed to run long enough to flush out the system. Phil and Mr. Jackson agreed that the water fountains needed new pipes. After all, it was their legal and ethical responsibility to make sure the students weren't drinking contaminated water.



The "Four Horsemen" of School Facilities Maintenance

Indoor Air Quality (IAQ)

IAQ encompasses almost anything and everything that affects the air in a building, including radon gas, paint odors, mold, construction dust, asbestos, and stack emissions. Moreover, as allergens and irritants (such as perfumes and hair sprays) proliferate, school district maintenance staff must become knowledgeable about these issues as well. One of the best resources available is the "Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) Tools for Schools" action kit developed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (http://www.epa.gov/iaq/schools/), which provides investigative checklists and hints for problem solving, as well as additional resources for guiding efforts to assess and improve indoor air quality.
 


Catastrophic incidents are not the preferred method of learning about environmental regulations. School districts need to be proactive in learning about their responsibilities from regulatory agencies, state departments of education, and professional associations.


Indoor air actually begins as outside air!

Poor indoor air quality can affect student and teacher performance by causing eye, nose, and throat irritation, fatigue, headache, nausea, sinus problems, and other minor or serious illnesses. Thus, steps must be taken to ensure that IAQ causes neither actual nor perceived illness in facility occupants. Reasonable actions might include the following recommendations, although official standards may vary from state to state and locality to locality:

  Graphic of Checkmark Ventilate occupied areas at a minimum rate of 15 cubic feet per minute (cfm).
  Graphic of Checkmark Maintain indoor carbon dioxide (CO2) between 800 and 1,000 parts per million (ppm).
  Graphic of Checkmark Install both fresh air supply and exhaust ventilation systems in occupied areas.
  Graphic of Checkmark Avoid recirculating previously exhausted contaminants when ventilating.
  Graphic of Checkmark Ensure adequate make-up air in boilers to minimize backfires and carbon monoxide (CO) contamination.
  Graphic of Checkmark Maintain indoor air relative humidity below 70 percent.
  Graphic of Checkmark Maintain indoor air temperature at comfortable levels (68-72F when the room is being heated and 70-78F when the room is being cooled).
  Graphic of Checkmark Inspect for water damage and eliminate standing water and elevated humidity.
  Graphic of Checkmark Clean, dry, or remove water-damaged materials within 72 hours of wetting.
  Graphic of Checkmark Change filters and clean drip pans according to manufacturer's instructions. (Filters in high-pollution areas may require more frequent service.)
  Graphic of Checkmark Seal construction/renovation from occupied areas to minimize air exchange.
  Graphic of Checkmark Minimize use of volatile chemicals (in cleaning agents and pesticides), especially while the building is occupied.
  Graphic of Checkmark Replace toxic and noxious chemicals with less harmful products as available.
  Graphic of Checkmark Store toxic and noxious supplies in areas with adequate exhaust systems.
  Graphic of Checkmark Situate vehicle-idling areas away from occupied buildings and ventilation inlets.
  Graphic of Checkmark Dispose of used cleaning supplies and water-damaged materials immediately and properly (double-bagged in 6-mil polyethylene plastic).
  Graphic of Checkmark Balance all HVAC, air handling, and ventilation systems every five years.
  Graphic of Checkmark Periodically test air samples for CO2 (a sign of poor ventilation), CO (a sign of incomplete combustion), relative humidity (a sign of leaks and moisture problems), and air temperature.
  Graphic of Checkmark Sample for microbial growth (e.g., mold) when an IAQ problem is suspected.


School staff who ignore IAQ warning signs may end up reading about their problems in the local newspaper.


Image of KeysMost districts that find themselves with IAQ troubles get into this predicament because they fail to respond to warning signs. Many IAQ issues may not be preventable, but can be "fixed" when monitoring, well-trained staff, and adequate resources allow the problem to be identified and addressed in a timely manner.

Indoor air always starts as one thing-outdoor air. Unfortunately, outdoor air may itself be of poor quality. Today's requirements for fresh-air exchange in schools mean that any impurities in the outdoor air will be brought indoors. Thus someone who is susceptible to hay fever may be able to find relief in their tightly sealed home, but they won't find it in a school classroom.

IAQ - Sometimes a Mystery for the Even the Best of Detectives

Image of Eagle with HammerTerry, the facilities director, and his staff had done everything they could think of to solve an IAQ complaint from a student's parent, but to no avail. Finally, they hired a consulting company to assess the problem. The HVAC system was examined from its intake vents, through the ductwork, and into the classroom-and all proved to be in good working order. Indoor air speciation lab tests revealed no concerns, and outdoor air control samples were all within proper tolerances. Pollutants from building and housekeeping sources were checked, as were air temperature and humidity. The roof was inspected for leaks and mold, but nothing could be found. Meanwhile, the child's parents notified every authority they could find, and soon the local media were on to the story. A medical doctor had verified that the child was, indeed, reacting to something in the school that was making him ill. In fact, when the student transferred to another school, all symptoms immediately cleared up.

Finally, after weeks of investigative work, one of Terry's staff saw a teacher's aide spraying an insecticide ("but only lightly") in the student's former classroom because she had seen ants in the area. The student was subsequently diagnosed as being hypersensitive to the pesticide. Terry was able to have the classroom thoroughly cleaned (and the teaching staff trained)
so the student could return to his class.

Good IAQ plans strive for problem solving through systematic investigation and, when all else fails, professional help. District staff must be encouraged to investigate all complaints thoroughly and promptly. Individual complaints may indicate either an isolated problem in a secluded area or the intolerance of a single individual to a contaminant. Repeated or multiple complaints may indicate larger or growing problems. While the details of IAQ work can be "scientific" and difficult to understand, more frequently they are straightforward and reflect common sense. For example, IAQ investigations often point to expected sources such as a classroom's pet hamster, sprays and perfumes worn by students and staff, reactions to foods or food supplements, or even allergic reactions to the aloe in tissues and hand soaps. Investigators should keep in mind that elementary-school students may have allergies that have not yet been identified by their parents or physicians.

If there is reason to suspect biological contamination (e.g., molds and microbes), the lab testing portion of an IAQ investigation begins with a study of the molds, bioaerosols, and other "natural contaminants" in the outside air for use as a control against which indoor air can be compared. Usually, HVAC filtration purifies the outdoor air so that indoor air has lower quantities of the same impurities. When indoor air tests reveal impurities that do not exist in the outdoor control, it suggests that something is "growing" inside. If investigators suspect that the problem is chemical in nature (e.g., fumes from cleaning agents stored within a facility), then volatile organic sampling may be undertaken.

Common indoor air pollutants include (but are not limited to):

  Graphic of Checkmark tobacco smoke
  Graphic of Checkmark formaldehyde
  Graphic of Checkmark volatile organic compounds (VOCs)
  Graphic of Checkmark nitrogen oxides
  Graphic of Checkmark carbon monoxide
  Graphic of Checkmark carbon dioxide
  Graphic of Checkmark allergens
  Graphic of Checkmark pathogens
  Graphic of Checkmark radon
  Graphic of Checkmark dust
  Graphic of Checkmark lead
  Graphic of Checkmark pesticides (used in or near buildings)


Most IAQ problems result
from inadequate air handling and ventilation. Low levels of contaminants rarely accumulate to dangerous levels if the building is
properly ventilated.


While this list is far from exhaustive, each of these contaminants needs to be understood and properly managed. Many of these compounds are common outdoor air pollutants as well, and all can be routinely linked to buildings and air-handling equipment.

Potential sources of IAQ contaminants include (but are not limited to):

  Graphic of Checkmark "fresh" air
  Graphic of Checkmark odors from dumpsters
  Graphic of Checkmark lab and workshop emissions
  Graphic of Checkmark cleaning process emissions
  Graphic of Checkmark insects and other pests
  Graphic of Checkmark insecticides and pesticides
  Graphic of Checkmark furnaces and fuel lines
  Graphic of Checkmark building occupants (e.g., perfumes)
  Graphic of Checkmark underground sources (e.g., sewer lines and radon gas)
  Graphic of Checkmark HVAC equipment (which is often a path of distribution)

Building administrators also need to be concerned about creating air quality problems. For example, landscaping "environmental" areas is a popular and worthwhile school revitalization project. However, if not properly handled, such initiatives can introduce moisture and mold problems (e.g., from mulch laid outside air-intake vents), lead to fire-exit violations (e.g., if access to exits are obstructed or impeded), and invite bees and biting insects (e.g., if pollen-releasing flowers are planted). The answer is not to forbid landscape initiatives, but to make sure that projects are carried out with proper foresight. The right questions - addressing issues such as plot location, intended use, and potential impact on health and safety - must be asked (and answered) prior to granting permission for any improvement projects.

Image of School BusFor more information about indoor air quality management, visit the National Clearinghouse for Educational Facilities' IAQ resource list at http://www.edfacilities.org/rl/iaq.cfm, which provides list of links, books, and journal articles addressing indoor air quality issues in K-12 school buildings, including building materials, maintenance practices, renovation procedures and ventilation systems.

Mold, Mildew, and Moisture

Mold is a particularly prominent and pernicious IAQ problem. Mold spores occur almost everywhere in the air we breathe, and almost any building surface can support and nourish mold growth. However, the key factor in enabling mold to grow and reproduce is the presence of moisture-from leaks or elsewhere. Thus, moisture control is the primary mechanism for reducing mold growth. Even room humidifiers, which may be brought in by staff to make a classroom more comfortable, may introduce excess moisture into the building and thus have a net effect that is harmful.

Communicating Not Just What, But Why: Creating Moisture at Dew Point

Image of Eagle with HammerMary Jane, the principal of Big River Elementary School, was in her second year in the newly built, fully air-conditioned building. The previous summer, she had had to deal with mold growth in a few areas of the building during the humid days of August, and she was determined to avoid the problem this year.

Mary Jane had reported the incident to the maintenance department, and the ensuing investigation revealed that three HVAC units were not operating as designed in the air-conditioning mode. The HVAC systems were repaired and had been double-checked at the end of the school year. However, John, the head of maintenance, felt that more preventive work was warranted, as he suspected that the rooms' thermostats were being set so low as to create "cold spots" that were reaching dew point. He left voice-mail messages with Mary Jane and the building's head custodian to make sure all the thermostat controls were set no lower than 75 to 78 degrees during the summer break.

When the first big heat wave hit in late June, Mary Jane asked Pete, the head custodian, to set the thermostats lower. The custodian reminded her of John's instructions, to which Mary Jane responded, "I'm all for energy conservation too, but people can't work in this heat." After a few weeks of end-of-the-year cleanup, the school was locked for the rest of the summer with the thermostats set at 65 degrees.

When the first teachers arrived in August to begin preparations for the upcoming academic year, they discovered mold growing in their classrooms. Upon further inspection, Mary Jane found mold throughout the building. She called John, who immediately recognized that the problem was beyond the expertise of his maintenance staff, and notified the superintendent that a major cleanup and air testing project would have to be initiated. As John pursued his investigation, he noticed how cool many of the rooms were and confirmed that thermostats were set much lower than 75 degrees. "Well yes," Mary Jane said, "but it was so hot in June." "But Mary Jane," John explained, "Our HVAC equipment is sized for building occupancy, which means that it cools a room based on an assumption that 24 children and a teacher will be in that room giving off body heat. When a classroom thermostat is set at 65 degrees without occupants, the room temperature reaches the thermostat setting so quickly that there isn't time to dehumidify the air completely. As a result, water vapor condenses out in the cool spots, which might reach 60 degrees along the floor and metal surfaces. And once there is standing water, mold is sure to follow."

Both Pete and Mary Jane wished that John had explained this all to them before summer break. As it was, it would take $25,000 to test and clean the rooms and HVAC equipment before school could reopen.

Asbestos

Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral found in certain rock formations. When mined and processed, asbestos fibers can be mixed with a binding material for use in a variety of products. Asbestos products are strong, fire-resistant, corrosion-resistant, and good insulators. In schools, asbestos was commonly used in building materials and has been found in floor and ceiling tiles, cement pipes, pipe and boiler insulation, and spray-applied fireproofing. While the presence of asbestos-containing materials does not in itself pose an immediate health threat, it is well known that asbestos becomes hazardous when the microscopic fibers are released into the air, as can occur as a result of damage or deterioration.
 


Federal law requires that school organizations conduct asbestos inspections every three years and perform semiannual surveillance.

Image of KeysThe type and amount of asbestos in a product varies depending upon application. The condition, location, and exposure of the material to air are factors in determining the proper response. Asbestos fibers are so small and light that they can remain airborne for many hours (increasing the chance for inhalation) if they are disturbed and released into the air. Preventing the release of asbestos fibers into the air should be a school district's primary concern.

Why is it so important that all asbestos-containing materials be identified in school facilities? Because this information guides day-to-day maintenance and operations. For example, if there is asbestos in a building's floor tiles, staff must know not to use the buffer/sander to clean the area or else hazardous fibers could be released into the air.


Asbestos abatement projects (i.e., removal or encapsulation) are usually undertaken by outside contractors. District staff who get involved in asbestos removal must be trained, certified and, in some instances, have their health monitored.


In 1986, the Asbestos Hazard Emergency Response Act (AHERA) was signed into federal law to regulate the management of asbestos-containing materials in public and private schools. AHERA regulations apply only to interior building materials and those under covered walkways, patios, and porticos.

AHERA requires local education agencies to:

  Graphic of Checkmark designate and train an asbestos coordinator
  Graphic of Checkmark identify friable (i.e., easily crumbled or ground) and nonfriable asbestos-containing materials
  Graphic of Checkmark develop and implement an asbestos management plan that reflects ongoing surveillance, inspections, and response actions
  Graphic of Checkmark develop and implement a responsible operations and maintenance program
  Graphic of Checkmark conduct inspections for asbestos-containing materials every three years
  Graphic of Checkmark perform semiannual surveillance activities
  Graphic of Checkmark implement response actions in a timely fashion
  Graphic of Checkmark provide adequate staff training and meet certification requirements
  Graphic of Checkmark notify all occupants (and parents/guardians) about the status of asbestos-containing materials each year.

Image of KeysIn other words, school districts must know where asbestos materials are located in their buildings, inform occupants, and train their staff how to work in affected areas. EPA officials conduct random checks and audit district records for asbestos monitoring and reporting.

Image of School BusFor more information about asbestos and asbestos management, visit the National Clearinghouse for Educational Facilities' Asbestos resource list at http://www.edfacilities.org/rl/asbestos.cfm, which provides lists of links, books, and journal articles on how asbestos abatement and management is conducted in school buildings, and how schools can comply with federal regulations.

Water Management

Public water supplies are generally categorized as either "community water systems" or "non-community water systems." If a school district gets its water from a local city authority, it is likely on a "community water system." If a school district uses its own wells as its water source, it would be classified as a "non-community system." In 1976, the U.S. Congress passed the Safe Water Drinking Act, which authorized the U.S. EPA to set standards for maximum contaminant levels (MCLs) for specified substances in water. Most state departments of environmental protection also have regulations addressing water-testing procedures. To ensure compliance with applicable water management regulations, school districts should:

  Graphic of Checkmark review pertinent federal, state, and local regulations
  Graphic of Checkmark develop a sampling, monitoring, and reporting plan that is commensurate with applicable regulatory guidance
  Graphic of Checkmark verify sampling methods used for testing and monitoring water quality
  Graphic of Checkmark address all water quality and systems operation deficiencies identified by the compliance plan
  Graphic of Checkmark incorporate water management guidelines into future construction and renovation initiatives.

Lead in drinking water has been shown to have a substantially detrimental impact on human health. The U.S. EPA requires that schools take adequate measures to ensure that lead-lined water coolers are repaired, removed, or replaced. Schools are also required to test and remove lead contamination from all sources of drinking water.

If a school district receives its water from a community system, water-testing requirements may be the responsibility of the local water authority. If, however, a school district has its own wells, it may have to comply with numerous water-testing requirements (such as for nitrates, chlorination, and turbidity), although state and local requirements vary.

In some areas, schools face water shortages. Moreover, once an adequate water source is identified, storage levels must be properly maintained, monitored, and treated. Because schools normally operate in peak-use time frames, water treatment equipment has to be sized to handle peak demand. Water-related considerations may affect the size of the boiler room as well as space for storing service equipment and chemicals. Effective water systems management requires a well-trained staff or a professional firm hired to perform the monitoring and testing. In many states, certificates and permits are required to perform these services.

The Three R's of 21st-Century Education

Caring for the environment is consistent with the aims of 21st-century education:

Reading = R = Reduce

WRiting = R = Reuse

ARithmetic = R = Recycle

Waste Management

Waste management is a catch-all term that includes trash removal, recycling, and the disposal of hazardous waste. Trash removal is probably the most high-profile aspect of waste management in a school setting. In many jurisdictions, it is illegal to dump, burn, or otherwise dispose of solid waste (e.g., paper, wood, aluminum, trash) without a permit. Thus, school districts must be aware of applicable local and state laws and regulations concerning solid waste disposal.

Recycling may also play an important role in an education organization's waste management plan. Many townships and cities require recycling. In other areas, school districts may have to choose between the environmental and social benefits of recycling and the incremental costs incurred to recycle.
 


Most states and many localities have laws that restrict the disposal of certain types of waste in public disposal facilities. For example, Massachusetts restricts the placement of cathode ray tubes (CRTs), computer screens, televisions, fluorescent bulbs, and lithium batteries in the trash because of the presence of mercury in their components. Planners must consult with authorities about specific waste guidelines applicable in their area.

In any case, both solid waste and recyclables should be removed from occupied areas as soon as possible after being collected. Storage facilities (even temporary storage areas) must be located away from occupied areas to minimize the risk of fire and infestation.

The Right-to-Know Act (http://es.epa.gov/techinfo/facts/pro-act6.html) requires planning and assessment for a range of hazardous waste materials-from small-engine machine shop oil to science laboratory chemicals. Chemicals used by maintenance and custodial personnel may need to be noted on a material safety data sheet (MSDS) to verify that proper procedures for their use, storage, and disposal have been followed. No potentially hazardous material should be brought into a school facility without being properly labeled and having an MSDS on file. Staff must recognize the potential volatility of chemical agents that can enter breathable air when they are handled improperly. For example, many people know that when the roof leaks, wood can get wet and mold can grow. Fewer people know that the bleach used to clean mold stains may itself have serious health ramifications if the space is not properly ventilated during use. Thus, the ongoing review of systems, monitoring, and testing is critical to the recognition and handling of potentially hazardous materials.

Certain hazardous waste materials, including asbestos, also require that the organization sign a waste manifest for the receiving dump or waste site. For example, the dumping of soil contaminated by leaking fuel oil during a tank removal project may require the district to sign a waste manifest before the solid waste management facility will accept the contaminated dirt. This manifest may assign ownership and potential liability to the district in the event of a future site-cleanup mandate. In some cases, storage facilities may offer (for an additional cost) to burn the material, thereby avoiding the waste manifest procedure and negating potential future liabilities. These decisions require forethought, due diligence, and disclosure-and may warrant the advice of the district's legal counsel.
 


"Universal precautions" is an approach to infection control that requires all human blood and certain bodily fluids to be handled as though they were infectious. Thus, all persons who clean, or otherwise come into contact with, bodily fluids should take appropriate barrier precautions to prevent skin and membrane exposure.

The disposal of medical waste, including blood-borne pathogens (BBPs), requires additional supervision and planning. "Universal precautions" is an approach to infection control that requires all human blood and certain bodily fluids to be handled as though they were infectious. Thus, all persons who clean, or otherwise come in contact with, bodily fluids should routinely take appropriate barrier precautions to prevent skin and membrane exposure. This includes wearing gloves, masks, protective eyewear, gowns, and mouthpieces (e.g., during resuscitation). The disposal of needles and sharp instruments also requires special care (e.g., used needles should never be recapped or broken by hand). All building surfaces exposed to bodily fluids should be decontaminated by cleaning with a bleach/water solution at a 1:10 ratio or another EPA-approved tuberculocidal cleaning agent. All cleaning tools should be disposed of immediately after use (and double-sealed in 6-mil polyethylene plastic bags). It is advisable for decision-makers to refer to local hospitals, clinics, and doctor offices for guidance in this area. Procedures for handling medical waste from the nurse's office and athletic training facilities should be clearly written, and all staff involved in cleanup and transport of such waste must be adequately trained. Storage and transportation of such materials is regulated, and disposal may require the services of certified or licensed individuals or firms.

Training Staff to Recognize Environmental Hazards

While not every member of the maintenance staff needs to be an expert at remedying all the environmental hazards that can arise in school facilities, all maintenance workers should be trained to identify the signs of common environmental problems they may encounter. For example, recognizing suspicious materials, vulnerable conditions, and potential dangers enables them to take the first step (alerting others) toward protecting themselves, other building occupants, and the facility in general. It also ensures that most potential problems will be remedied before they become full-fledged catastrophes.

An issue that further complicates proper cleaning practices is that janitorial staff are advised to wear latex gloves when handling hazardous materials (and even general cleaning agents), although some individuals may have severe allergies to latex gloves. Therefore, employees must be monitored for skin or respiratory reactions when wearing latex gloves. If the use of latex gloves by students is warranted (e.g., in chemistry labs), such procedures also require monitoring, and may justify parental notification.

Wastewater management (sewage plants) is another topic that some schools may need to be concerned about. Whether wastewater goes to a local community waste plant, an in-house waste treatment plant, or an on-site drainage field, school staff should have a thorough understanding of their wastewater management responsibilities. Regardless of ownership, water treatment facilities must be managed and run by certified operators. District-owned facilities face special operational concerns that stem from the great fluctuations in demand placed on the system due to the variability of the school schedule. On a daily basis, facilities must handle peak flow during school hours (and even more specifically during windows between class periods). Weekends and holidays, on the other hand, present intervals of very low demand. Prolonged dormancy associated with summer vacation pose additional start-up issues each fall. Therefore, staff must be prepared to schedule equipment use, maintenance, and testing accordingly. Care of on-site systems should include annual inspections, pumping, and regular maintenance as needed. Kitchens should have grease traps to prevent grease from being transported to drainage beds in the system. The drainage beds themselves should be well marked. Wastewater from science labs and maintenance shops (both potentially carrying hazardous materials) must be managed from their source all the way to the treatment facility. These pipes must also be protected from accidental damage (on more than one occasion a local school organization has placed playground equipment right on top of a sewer bed or driven equipment poles through a drainage pipe).

Many states have programs to provide schools with on-site assistance in complying with occupational health and safety regulations. Check with your State Department of Labor (or Public Health) or contact http://www.osha.gov/html/consultation.html for more information. Most on-site consultation programs are free of charge but recipients may be obligated to remedy serious health and safety problems identified during the visit. The company that provides your organization's worker compensation insurance may also be willing to help assess your facilities for dangerous or unhealthy conditions.



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National Center for Education Statistics - http://nces.ed.gov
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