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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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