The number one priority of employers should be to provide a safe, healthy work environment for their employees. In certain industries, this can be achieved through proper air filtration and fume extraction, as well as by staying aware of guidelines, programs, and tools that focus on this issue.
As the government’s official administration dedicated to workplace safety, OSHA not only regulates health and safety issues, but creates programs to help employers provide the safest environment possible. One of their latest is a National Emphasis Program (NEP) dedicated to protecting workers from the dangers of isocyanates. Like their other National Emphasis Programs, this will focus on both inspections and outreach efforts to call attention to the hazards, and encourage prevention.
Isocyanates are compounds that are classified as potential carcinogens, and can cause irritation of the skin, eyes, nose, and throat, as well as asthma. Asthma-related deaths have occurred as a result of isocyanates exposure.
According to Dr. David Michaels, OSHA’s Assistant Secretary of Labor, “Workers exposed to isocyanates can suffer debilitating health problems for months or even years after exposure. Through this program, OSHA will strengthen protections for workers exposed to isocyanates.”
Some of the many industries and substances within which isocyanates are found include automotive paints and glues, construction sealants, insulation, medical casts, food packaging materials, a variety of textiles, and more.
According to OSHA, the goal of this NEP “will be accomplished by a combined effort of inspection targeting, outreach to employers, and compliance assistance.” Through remaining aware, vigilant, and always compliant, employers can ensure their workplace is protected from these harmful substances. In conjunction with OSHA’s program, employers should provide education and training related to isocyanates safety, and be sure all precautions are taken.
For more information on this NEP, visit www.osha.gov.