From the Executive Director’s Office: The Only Thing consistent is Change – Heraclitus of Ephesus (c. 500 BCE)

Don ElswickWelcome to the first newsletter for 2020 from UA SafeState. UA SafeState is focused on fulfilling its’ mission “workers return home safe at the end of the day and families live, learn, and play in cleaner, safer, and healthier environment.” We want to be your partner in preventing occupational fatalities this year in Alabama.

As the new Executive Director, I wanted to remind all readers although they will see change, our purpose is still the same. Recently, UA SafeState lost its founder, mentor and leader, Dr. William (Bill) Weems. The entire staff is determined to carry on with what was started by Dr. Weems in 1978. Bill reminded me of our mission and purpose. He expressed his confidence in the experts at UA SafeState. Bill was very proud of the professional staff and said, “they have worked with many companies, municipalities and organizations to find effective solutions to challenging environmental and occupational safety and health problems”.

Many have asked, “who’s this new Executive Director.” I could say that my 35 years of accomplishments including government, private sector, university teaching, and contract support in the environmental safety and occupational health areas define my career. However, I am reminded frequently that the accomplishments and improvements I have obtained in my career were achieved with the incredible support from teams and organizations I have been associated. During my first two months at UA SafeState, I have had the privilege of individually meeting with each and every employee. UA SafeState is a strong group of professionals that are determined and committed to help companies become more productive with fewer health, safety and environmental incidents. They are committed to the vision established by our founder.

Personnel transformation, globalization, and technological innovations have accelerated the speed at which work changes. Complex, emerging workforce issues confront both employers and workers. UA SafeState promotes the well-being of workers, their families, and communities by encouraging an integrated, multidisciplinary perspective. We are committed to support our customers in occupational safety and health hazard controls with worker health promotions. During the next few months we are expanding our services in consultative support, online and face-to-face training, and environmental compliance reviews. Our experienced environmental, health, and safety (EHS) team provides expert monitoring and testing services to ensure industrial and manufacturing facilities comply and are providing a safe workplace for employees. We’re ready to help you achieve a higher level of health and safety in your industrial workplace by providing compliance assistance and specialized training. However, we need your assistance. My request from you is that you contact me and share ideas that could help you optimize your mission. We recognize our mission is the same, but we realize in the EHS profession “The only thing consistent is change”! Thank you

UA SafeState Helping Alabama Businesses with Cost Saving Pollution Prevention Strategies

With a Pollution Prevention (P2) grant from the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), UA SafeState – Environmental Programs will provide technical assistance and training to businesses on pollution reduction techniques, market penetration of greener products, and sustainable manufacturing practices. Essentially all businesses generate waste. Regardless of whether it is characterized as hazardous, the bottom line is that all waste costs money. This grant will allow UA SafeState environmental consultants to identify, develop, document, and share best management practices and innovations. This information may be used to inform future technical assistance, as these P2 approaches may be replicated and shared by others.

“Basically, this is an opportunity for Alabama businesses to partner with us to review their processes and find ways for them to reduce the risk of pollution and find innovative ways to reduce costs and save money” said Michael Rasbury, Associate Director of UA SafeState Environmental Programs. P2 (source reduction), is any practice which reduces the amount of any hazardous substance, pollutant, or contaminant entering any waste stream or otherwise released into the environment. These interventions take place prior to recycling of discarded material, treatment, or disposal; and reduce the hazards to public health and the environment. EPA interprets P2 as including practices that, increase efficient use of water, energy, raw materials, or other resources, or that may protect natural resources through conservation methods. We hope by utilizing this grant to assist local businesses, we will make our community a healthier and safer place to live and help our local companies realize new cost savings and economic development opportunities.

Workplace Noise Exposure Monitoring – When Is It Needed?

According to OSHA, when an employer has information indicating that any worker’s noise exposure may equal or exceed an 8-hour average of 85 dB(A), on a time-weighted basis, then a noise monitoring program needs to be implemented. If you have never had a formal noise exposure survey, you can easily arrange to have one done – free of charge – through UA SafeState. Generally speaking, if you have to raise your voice above normal speaking levels to be heard over the sound levels in your operation, it is probably time to have your exposure levels tested. In our everyday world, ambient noise sources that may exceed 85dB(A) can include loud radios, busy traffic in downtown areas, your vacuum cleaner, or even a noisy restaurant. In the world of work, we frequently have much louder noise exposures from production equipment, power tools, compressed air, etc. Even in an otherwise “quiet” plant environment, the start-up and operation of one or two loud machines can push noise exposures above permissible levels. With that in mind, if you have some sources in your work process that seem a bit loud, the intensity vs. duration of exposure needs to be professionally evaluated.

If you’ve had previous noise surveys, keep in mind that those need to be re-evaluated from time to time. If there’s been a process change, the addition of new machinery, changes in work operations (e.g., shift changes, task assignment changes), changes in control strategies, or if your audiometric testing program reveals some hearing losses – any one of these factors are potential “red flags” that it’s time for an updated noise survey. Keep in mind that, as equipment ages, it is not unusual for noise levels to increase incrementally over time. Because the changes that can affect noise output can be rather subtle, we generally recommend a recheck of your noise levels every two years or so.

To learn more about how UA SafeState can help you assess noise exposures with a free, onsite consultation and survey, you can contact us at 1-800-452-5928, visit our Contact page and send us an email, or make an online request.

And thank you for helping to keep people safe and healthy on the job and at home!

UA SafeState Announces New Safety and Health Certificate Recipients

Several dedicated safety and health professionals received Construction or General Industry Safety and Health Management Program Certificates this past quarter from UA SafeState’s OSHA Training Institute Education Center (OTI-EC).

In order to earn their certificates, recipients were required to complete nearly 100 hours of classroom training in at least six courses and demonstrate their expertise by examination. We commend them for this accomplishment and applaud their efforts to ensure the safety and well-being of co-workers on the job.

Steve Blanton Construction






Steven Blanton

Construction Certificate

Jeffery Hilyer General Industry

Jeffery Hilyer

General Industry Certificate

Mason Meherg General Industry

Mason Meherg

General Industry Certificate

Samuel Mims General Industry

Samuel Mims

General Industry Certificate

Blake Bullen Construction

Blake Bullen

Construction Certificate

Justin Walker General Industry

Justin Walker

General Industry Certificate

Brian Humphries General Industry

Brian Humphres

General Industry Certificate

Jason Williamson Construction

Jason Williamson

Construction Certificate

JoAnn Green

JoAnn Green

General Industry Certificate

Steven Blanton

Steven Blanton

General Industry Certificate

william dickinson general industry

William Dickinson

General Industry Certificate

Richard Caudill gi

Richard Caudill

General Industry Certificate

Brandley Sullivan Construction Safety Certificate

Bradley Sullivan

Construction Certificate

Jeff Grosso

Jeff Grosso

General Industry Certificate

If you would like more information on the Construction Safety and Health Management Certificate program or General Industry Safety and Health Management Certificate program, please go to OTI-EC Certificate Programs or contact June Vance at (205) 348-4585.

News from UA OSHA Training Institute Education Center

What a great year we had at the University of Alabama OSHA Training Institute Education Center! Our trainers conducted OSHA 10 and 30 hour classes for over 10,000 students having an impact on safety in the fields of Construction, General Industry and Maritime in Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and other states throughout the country. So proud of our trainers and their passion to keep their employees safe on the job! Join us in 2020 and be a part of our ongoing initiative to keep safety on the forefront in our companies and communities. Let’s get everyone home in the same condition they left before heading to work.

Visit our website for our 2020 training schedule and information on the classes conducted through the UA OSHA Training Institute Education Center.

Update on EPA lower dust-lead hazard standards

A new final rule announced by EPA will revise the federal limits for lead in dust on floors and windowsills. The rule will lower the agency’s dust-lead hazard standards (DLHS) from 40 µg/ft² to 10 µg/ft²on floors and from 250 µg/ft² to 100 µg/ft² on windowsills.

The rule went into effect on January 6, 2020.

The current limits on lead in dust on floors and windowsills have been in place since 2001. At that time, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) identified a blood-lead level in children of 10 µg/dL as a level of concern. CDCs current guidance states that no safe blood-lead level in children has been identified and calls for public health measures to be initiated at a blood-lead level in children of 5 µg/dL. EPA cited this change in CDCs guidance as a factor in its decision to issue tighter standards.

While the final rule lowers EPAs dust-lead hazard standards, it does not change the agency’s clearance standards used to determine whether renovated homes are safe for re-occupancy. The clearance standards will remain 40 µg/ft² for floors, 250 µg/ft² for windowsills, and 400 µg/ft² for window troughs.

For more information see the Federal Register Vol. 84, No. 131, Tuesday, July 9, 2019, Rules and Regulations or visit EPAs website at

Environmental Classes Calendar for first quarter of 2020

The Calendar for our Environmental Classes for the first quarter of 2020 has been released. You can view the calendar here:

If you would like for us to email you a brochure showing these course offerings with dates and fees please email Carolyn Sturdivant at

If you have any questions about which class you may want to take you can email Gregg Cubel at or you can call us toll-free at (877) 50-TRAIN.

Welcome our new employees

Shanatta (Shay) Hamilton joined UA SafeState’s Environmental Program as an Office Associate II. She previously worked with nonprofit organization Volunteers of America whom works with individuals with intellectual disabilities. She joined a bowling league so she can have more interaction with individuals the organization served. She loves crafting and traveling throughout the year with family. She is also committed to working with the youth in her church. She is currently enrolled in Bama by Distance to complete her business degree.

Ashley Chambers joined UA SafeState’s Environmental Programs division as the manager of Environmental Services in August 2019. She brings to UA SafeState nearly 15 years of federal, state, and local experience in the environmental and solid waste industries. She is the current board president of the Alabama Recycling Coalition, and serves on other regional environmental boards as well. Ashley is a proud UA graduate, is married to Rhett, and has 3 young children (ages 5, 3, and 2).

Kevin Covington joined UA SafeState’s Environmental Services Team as an Environmental Analyst. He has a BS degree in Environmental Science from the University of Alabama. He is married to Emily, who also works for the University as an Enhancement Specialist under the Alabama Quality Stars Program, and they have two dogs Shadow and Falcon.

Carolyn Sturdivant joined UA SafeState’s as an Office Associate II, October 7, 2019. She is married to Jason and they have four children and one grandchild. She recently moved from Choctaw County where she was a small business owner and office manager for SWASWDA. Jason is the Hale County Engineer and a licensed surveyor, with a degree from The University of Alabama.

Sheretha Bell joined SafeState’s Consultation section as an Office Associate II on March 4, 2019. She is married to Herman Bell, they have three children and one granddaughter. Alexis is junior at the University of Alabama, Dejah is a senior at Tuscaloosa County High, Jalen is a sophomore at Tuscaloosa County as well, and little miss Nayla Rose is 7 months.

And saying goodbye to dear friends

Beth retirementBeth Widner retired October 2019 with 29 years of service for the Environmental Program. She was hired by John Sikes as a program assistant in 1990. Beth was a dedicated employee and worked very hard to make sure everything ran smoothly in her division. She and her husband, Denton look forward to a life together on their farm. We will truly miss Beth! But we wish her the best in her retirement!



Dr. William WeemsDr. William “Bill” Weems, CIH, CSP passed away on Tuesday, Dec 10, 2019. Dr. Weems incredible contributions and accomplishments as an OSH professional were legendary. At The University of Alabama, as Director Emeritus, UA SafeState, he was our leader and inspiration. We will truly miss your passion and dedication to the safety of all workers not only in Alabama but the world!