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Posted by on in Industrial Hygiene Consulting

According to the American Industrial Hygiene Association (AIHA), industrial hygiene is a science and art devoted to the anticipation, recognition, evaluation, prevention, and control of those environmental factors or stresses arising in or from the workplace which may cause sickness, impaired health and well- being, or significant discomfort among workers or among citizens of the community. Industrial hygiene (IH) is definitely not a new concept – it’s actually been around for centuries as far back as Hippocrates noting toxicity in the mining industry in the 4th century BC. In 1700 Italy, Bernardo Ramazzini, known as the “father of industrial medicine,” published the first comprehensive book on industrial medicine (The Diseases of Workmen) that contained descriptions of the occupational diseases of most of the workers of his time.

A little closer to home and a bit more current, Dr. Alice Hamilton led efforts to improve IH in the early 20th century as she had observed first-hand the industrial conditions, had evidence of the correlations between worker illness and their exposure to toxins, and presented convincing proposals for eliminating unhealthy working conditions in such places as mines and factories. She was appointed to the first investigative commission in the United States, which was the Occupational Diseases Commission of Illinois, in 1910.

Nowadays, OSHA regulates hundreds of chemicals, and understanding these chemical and identifying potential chemical or physical exposures, evaluating their severity and assisting in controlling or eliminating the hazard in the workplace is the job for a certified industrial hygienist. These hazards can be anything from air quality, hazardous and toxic agents such as asbestos, radon gas, and pesticides, exposure to chemicals and lead, hazardous waste management and more.

At Workplace Safety & Health Co. Inc., we have conducted industrial hygiene consulting to many different industries, including automotive manufacturing and supply facilities, aerospace companies, high-rise commercial buildings, hospitals, surface and subsurface mines, gray iron and non-ferrous foundries, fiberglass manufacturers, rare earth metal alloy manufacturers, food and beverage processing facilities, pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies, ship-building operations and steel mills.

Our IH services include the following:
• Chemical and Particulate Air Monitoring
• Noise Monitoring
• Indoor Air Quality Assessments
• Qualitative Exposure Assessments
• Hazard Communication
• Vapor Intrusion Monitoring
• Ventilation System Assessments
• Employee Training

Workplace Safety & Health Co. Inc. is ready to help you incorporate a solid IH program to protect your employees from both acute and chronic health issues, which will help your company thrive in many ways.

Two million poisonings are reported to poison centers across the United States each year, and since 1961, the third week in March has been dedicated as National Poison Prevention Week to create awareness. Even though childhood fatalities from accidental poisoning has dropped significantly through the years, the rate of fatalities due to accidental poisoning in all age groups has more than tripled in the past 50 years. Accidental poisoning is now the most common cause of accidental death in America.

Much of the increase is attributed to fatal drug overdoses, both legal and illegal drugs. Our blog, The Opioid Crisis and the Workplace, discussed how this crisis is affecting the workplace. Even though the number of what one would classify as a workplace fatality to poisoning is relatively small when compared to unintentional drug overdoses, the Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates more than 50,000 employees die each year from long-term occupational hazards such as chemical exposures.

There are four different categories of occupational hazards classified as poisons:
1. Agricultural and industrial chemicals
2. Drugs and healthcare products
3. Radiation
4. Biological poisons

When thinking about these four possible poisons, there are few industries that could completely escape exposing their employees to them, so keep these tips in mind to protect your employees:
• Ventilate work areas where hazardous substances are used and stored
• Enclose hazardous operations to prevent dangerous vapors from escaping into areas where employees are, so they do not breath in such vapors
• Restrict entry into hazardous areas to only those who are authorized, trained and properly equipped to do so
• Require the use of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) specifically designed to protect one against the specific hazardous substance employees are working with
• Use proper decontamination procedures to prevent exposures to poisons and the risk of spreading contamination throughout the workplace…or even into your employees’ homes, affecting their families

Each year, OSHA comes out with their Top 10 Violations, and both Hazard Communication and Respiratory Protection are consistently on this list, so even though National Poison Prevention Week is touted as March 17-23 this year, it’s something we all should be doing every week. Need help or guidance? Workplace Safety and Health, Inc. is ready – call us at 317-253-9737.

Posted by on in Industrial Hygiene Consulting

Since the energy crisis of the mid-1970s, indoor air quality (IAQ) has become a common discussion point when it comes to keeping workplaces safe and healthy for their employees. In a past blog, we discussed the main sources of IAQ in the workplace, including building location, inadequate ventilation and hazardous material. OSHA also identifies these key attributes that lead to IAQ complaints:

• Improperly operated and maintained heating, ventilation and air-conditioning (HVAC) systems
• Overcrowding
• Radon
• Moisture incursion and dampness
• Presence of outside air pollutants
• Presence of internally generated contaminates

Here are some typical Frequently Asked Questions concerning IAQ according to OSHA:

1. What is “Indoor Air Quality”?
Indoor air quality, also called indoor environmental quality, describes how the inside air can affect a person’s health, comfort and ability to work. It can include temperature, humidity, poor ventilation (lack of outside air), mold or exposure to other chemicals.

2. What are the most common causes of IAQ problems?
The most common causes are not enough ventilation, which includes not allowing enough fresh outdoor air to come in or contaminated air being brought into the building; poor upkeep of ventilation and HVAC systems; dampness and moisture due to water damage or high humidity; construction or remodeling; and indoor and outdoor contaminated air.

3. How can I tell if there is an IAQ issue at my workplace?
Do you notice your own symptoms, such as headaches and sinus issues, when you are at work, but they clear up after you leave the building? This could be a sign that the air contains contaminants. A couple other signs include unpleasant or musty odors, or the building is hot and stuffy.

4. Is there a test that can find an IAQ problem?
Even though there are specific tests for asbestos and radon, the majority of IAQ issues requires more measurements being checked, including temperature, humidity, carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide concentrations and air flow, as well as inspections and testing of the ventilation and HVAC systems. It’s also a good idea to do a building walk-through to check for odors and look for leaks and water damage.

5. What should I do if I think there is an IAQ problem at work?
Ask your employer to check the ventilation, HVAC systems and to make sure there is no water damage. Even though OSHA does not have specific IAQ standards, under the Act, it is your employer’s responsibility to provide workers with a safe workplace that does not have any known hazards that cause or are likely to cause death or serious injury. You also have the right to contact OSHA and request a workplace inspection.

The American Industrial Hygiene Association (AIHA) recently announced its support of the Accurate Workplace Injury and Illness Records Restoration Act. The bill, H.R. 2428, would reinstate the OSHA recordkeeping rule overturned this year by use of the Congressional Review Act. The Accurate Workplace Injury and Illness Records Restoration Act would allow OSHA to issue citations where violations of recordkeeping requirements continued for more than six months.

AIHA says accurate injury and illness records are essential in identifying and correcting workplace hazards.

Read entire article - https://www.aiha.org/about-aiha/Press/2017PressReleases/Pages/AIHA-Supports-the-Accurate-Workplace-Injury-and-Illness-Records-Restoration-Act-.aspx

Tagged in: OSHA

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