by Jeff Slivka, Gallagher Environmental Risk & Insurance
If you haven’t already done so, you probably will or need to develop a “mold prevention program” for one reason or another in the near future. Why? Because mold has become such a nightmare for owners, contractors, suppliers, everyone-you name it. If you haven’t done so already, you’ll need to develop a prevention program to (1) educate your organization on the impact mold “liability” can have on the company, and (2) should you choose to insure the risk, the likelihood that any underwriters will offer terms for mold coverage without it are slim to none.
So, how do you get started (and I stress this is only a start), if you want to construct such a program? Below is a brief outline of what a mold program may look like. This is not a comprehensive outline, but it should get you thinking in the proper direction. In the event you want to develop a comprehensive program, it would be prudent to seek the assistance of a certified industrial hygienist (CIH) or an air quality specialist to address the specific needs of your organization.
Section 1 – Mold Awareness
This section provides general information to on site personnel and future tenant/occupants (if necessary).
- Overall state of industry with mold Description of mold-types of mold/fungus, how it proliferates, what it looks like, why it exists, where to look for it, etc.
- Mold growth-triangle: moisture, temperature, and food source. How it grows and how to remove the contributors to mold growth.
- Toxicological impact on human health-real or perceived Risks associated with mold/fungal growth to both third parties as well as own workers
- Addressing mold awareness with tenants
Section 2 – Mold Prevention
This section addresses the ways to prevent water from entering the building and should be shared with on-site personnel and tenants.
- Overall description of how water can infiltrate a structure Addressing mold issues with tenants in lease agreements
- Use of mold resistant materials/products-caulks, paints, sealants, carpets, etc.
- Notification process for tenants Documentation process Reducing moisture/water infiltration:
- Type of construction, specifically with building envelope and type of roof Quality of construction Sequencing or construction Quality of contractors on new construction and maintenance Are contractors aware of mold Procedures for drying out wet/damp areas Infrared imaging to identify possible areas of water intrusion in building envelope
Section 3-Mold Control Program
This section addresses the remediation once mold is found in the structure/building. Depending on the extent of the impacted area, experts in the field of air quality and mold remediation must be engaged.
- What to do if you find mold-documentation, photos, notification, isolation of impacted areas
- Remediation-selecting CIHs, developing reports, referring environmental consultants (should establish relationship with one), safety (PPE and plans) Selection of remediation contractor-references, contracts, insurance requirements, statement of qualifications
- Areas of concern during remediation:
- Impact of cleanup
- Extent of cleanup
- Cleanup standards
- Damage to other materials in structure
In closing, the key element to such a program is prevention and not of mold, but of water intrusion. As we all know, mold is only the by-product of the real culprit, water intrusion. In order to truly rid buildings of future mold problems and resulting liability, you must prevent the water from entering the structure. Unfortunately, that is usually easier said than done.