OSHA started a national emphasis program (NEP) in June of 2013 to ensure employers were doing their due diligence to protect workers from the hazards of isocyanate exposure. The following is a recap of the Department of Labor's executive summary on this harmful substance:
This NEP was developed to focus OSHA resources on the workplace health issue of occupational exposure to isocyanates. The health effects of occupational exposure to isocyanates include occupational asthma, irritation of the skin (dermatitis) and mucous membranes (eyes, nose, and throat), hypersensitivity pneumonitis, and chest tightness. Isocyanates include compounds also classified as potential human carcinogens and known to cause cancer in animals. Workers in a wide range of industries and occupations are exposed to at least one of the numerous isocyanates known to be associated with work-related asthma. Occupational factors are associated with at least 15 percent of all adult onset asthma cases in the United States. Occupational asthma is an illness characterized by intermittent breathing difficulty including chest tightness, wheezing, cough and shortness of breath. It is frequently serious and sometimes fatal.
Jobs that may involve exposure to isocyanates include painting, blowing foam insulation, and the manufacture and thermal degradation of many polyurethane products such as polyurethane foam, insulation materials, surface coatings, car seats, furniture, foam mattresses, under-carpet padding, packaging materials, shoes, laminated fabrics, polyurethane rubber, and adhesives.
This enforcement program sets forth a site selection system that targets multiple industries and will focus on evaluating inhalation, dermal and other routes of occupational exposure to isocyanates.
What Is Required of You?
- Check all MSDS (SDS) information on products that may contain isocyantes (see above for industries/work tasks where isocyanates are commonly present)
- If it is determined that there are isocyantes present in your products, you MUST conduct air sampling to ensure the personal exposure limit (PEL) isunder the allowable amount established by OSHA. (OSHA will conduct this sampling at your site if they show up for an audit)
- You must evaluate your PPE policy to ensure all possible isocyanate hazards are being protected against (Train on & implement new safe practices if necessary)
- Document all sampling data, PPE hazard assessments, training & any new safe work practices
How Can SSG Assist You?
Call Us ASAP at 877-322-5421 to get you on the schedule!