According to the Text book by Gayle Woodside “A chemical is considered to be a carcinogen or cancer-causing agent under OSHA regulations if it has been evaluated by the international Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) and is listed in the IARC latest edition of monographs as carcinogen or potential carcinogen”(Woodside 1999). By using the correct PPE in according to the MSDS for the right task it can reduce the risk of cancers for employees and first responders.
Most physically hazardous injuries a majority of the time will be from burns and normally be from a chemical burns or burns from flames or explosions. Welding metal can switch metal to a temporary hazardous material which can cause burns, by physically changing the metal by increasing the heat that is applied to the metal whether aluminum or steel and or some of other alloy. According to OSHA “The intense light associated with welding operations can cause serious and sometimes permanent eye damage if operators do not wear proper eye protection. The intensity of light or radiant energy produced by welding, cutting or brazing operations varies according to a number of factors including the task producing the light, the electrode size and the arc current” (OSHA 2012).Order now
When possible the engineering controls should be in place, in the working environment to reduce risk to personal when working with or around hazardous material and or hazardous waste. These engineering controls can include storage, transportation and handling of hazardous material. According to OHSA “Controlling a hazard at its source is the best way to protect employees. Depending on the hazard or workplace conditions, OSHA recommends the use of engineering or work practice controls to manage or eliminate hazards to the greatest extent possible”(OSHA 2012). This may be an expense that an employer may not want to pay, but in the long run it will pay for itself.
There will be situations in which adding engineering controls are not achievable and the increased risk may be required in order to complete the assignment. So when risk are required and “When engineering, work practice and administrative controls are not feasible or do not provide sufficient protection, employers must provide personal protective equipment (PPE) to their employees and ensure its use” (OSHA 2012).
Employers and employees should both beware that there are different levels of PPE; Level “A” is the highest amount of protection that PPE can provide and level “D” is the minimum level of protection. To use a level “D” protection when level “A” is required could have dangerous results. For example it would be similar to replacing a full face respirator for a dust mask.
Because of toxic vapors, gases, and dust particulates from hazardous material, daily work activities place personal at risk. Due to this reason, personal that work in that environment and first response personnel must wear applicable PPE and equipment while they are in a hazardous area. It is important to known about the hazards in your work space or for first responders a at emergency response location that contain hazards, which make it the easier to select the right level of PPE. So there are actually four levels of PPE which are A, B, C and D, D being the lowest level of protection.
Let’s review each of level of protection starting with the highest level “Level A protection is required when the greatest potential for exposure to hazards exists, and when the greatest level of skin, respiratory, and eye protection is required” (EPA 2015). Level A will also be your most expensive PPE in comparison to the other level of protections. Level A is designed to use in area with the highest risk and worse case circumstance.
The second highest level PPE is “Level B protection is required under circumstances requiring the highest level of respiratory protection, with lesser level of skin protection. At most abandoned outdoor hazardous waste sites, ambient atmospheric vapors or gas levels have not approached sufficiently high concentrations to warrant level A protection”( EPA 2015). Employers and employees should both understand which level should be selected.
Third highest level of protection is “Level C protection is required when the concentration and type of airborne substances is known and the criteria for using air purifying respirators is met” (EPA 2015). At the lowest level of protection which is the most inexpensive to provide is “Level D protection is the minimum protection required. Level D protection may be sufficient when no contaminants are present or work operations preclude splashes, immersion, or the potential for unexpected inhalation or contact with hazardous levels of chemicals”(EPA 2015).
It is also critical to reassess levels of protection, based on type environment and the overall level of protection should be reassess or re-evaluated occasionally as the amount of data about the hazards in the work site changes and as employees are required to complete different tasks. The danger is “Omitting one item may compromise the individual ‘s safety. Some pieces of protective equipment, such as hardhats and boots, have specific standards for manufacture and only those items meeting these standards should be used.” (Idaho RSP 2013) Also Employers should consider the fit and comfort of PPE when a company selecting the appropriate PPE items for their workplace.
Employers and employees should both beware that a hazardous substance can “penetrate a protective garment because of its design and construction imperfections, not because of the inherent material from which it is made. Stitched seams, button holes, porous fabric, and zippers can provide an avenue for the contaminant to penetrate the garment. A well designed and constructed protective suit with self-sealing zippers and lapped seams made of a nonporous degradation-resistant material prevents penetration, but as soon as the suit is ripped or punctured it loses its ability to prevent penetration. A material may also be easily penetrated once degraded”. (Idaho RSP 2013) Employers should be sure that the PPE material is resist permeation is as characteristic property to the level of hazards that it will be used with. This will decreases the risk of contaminants that the employees may be exposed to.
Workers must is understand that PPE has limits and must plan their work around the limit of the equipment to avoid exposure to hazardous “The amount or degree of permeation is related to the exposure conditions, especially contact time, which ultimately dictates how much of the contaminant permeates the protective material. Thus a conscious effort should be made to avoid prolonged exposure or contact with any hazardous contaminant, even when wearing protective clothing. No material resists permeation by all agents.” (Idaho RSP 2013)
Proper maintenance of reusable PPE should always be practices to ensure serviceable of equipment, training should be provided on how to care for, store, clean and maintain the PPE. Another issue is what do you when the contaminants are on the PPE, what should be disposed of and what should be decontaminated? “Once a contaminant contacts a protective material, the garment must be decontaminated. With many materials, it is impossible to completely remove all contamination. Materials such as butyl rubber and Viton, which can be effectively decontaminated and cleaned, are also expensive. In some situations disposable clothing may be advantageous”. (Idaho RSP 2013) There is a large risk if the PPE is not properly cleaned other may be expose to the hazardous material out of the control area and general public.
In conclusion Personal Protective equipment and proper training, that provides knowledge and understanding to the employee, to their first defense against hazardous material and hazardous waste which can cause occupational illness and injuries.
There are federal and state laws that protect the employees, in the work place against hazards that they may come in contact with. Employers and Employees should both be aware of the limitations that PPE may have and plan accordingly; it is not possible to eliminate the risk against hazardous material and hazardous waste that is in the works place “On May 15, 2008, a new OSHA rule about employer payment for PPE went into effect, this has few exceptions, OSHA now requires employers to pay for personal protective equipment used to comply with OSHA standards” (OSHA 2012). It is important to know the correct precautions to take can save someone’s life and prevention of unnecessary illness and injuries. Employers should always be mindful that “OSHA can provide extensive help through a variety of programs, including technical assistance about effective safety and health programs, state plans, workplace consultations, voluntary protection programs, strategic partnerships, training and education, and more” (OSHA 2012).
Gaining access to the MSDS is very important also, since it provides information on what type of PPE is required to perform the task and the dangers of the chemical that will be in use, and helps and employer purchase the prepare PPE to keep workers safe. Not only do employees have right to review MSDS but also to “Review records of work-related injuries and illnesses; Get copies of their medical records” (OSHA 2012). If employees does not feel safe performing a task that includes the use of hazardous material or waste and/or feel that they are not properly trained they should decline to perform the task.