In 2009, the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) implemented a pilot National Emphasis Program meant to deter facilities from releasing hazardous chemicals that could cause an explosion or fire, putting workers at risk of long-term illnesses from work-related accidents in North Carolina and nationwide.
In many industrial work environments, there are a variety of dangerous substances and chemicals that can cause long-term health effects. Hickory workers’ compensation attorneys understand that the detriments to a worker’s health conditions often rely on factors such as the type of chemical, the amount or dose of exposure, the length of time or duration that the exposure occurred, and the number of times exposure to the substance occurred.
In a recent release, OSHA announced a new National Emphasis Program (NEP) for chemical facilities that replaces the old one. OSHA inspectors will now be able to visit chemical facilities nationwide to ensure proper measures are being taken to prevent worker illnesses and deaths related to chemical or toxin exposure. The NEP gives OSHA inspectors a detailed explanation of procedures and policies to follow when they are in the process of inspecting a site. Inspectors should ask detailed questions in order to gather facts and demand verification that employers are consistently following OSHA’s process safety management (PSM) standard. Facilities will be randomly selected from a list of work sites that are proposed to have highly hazardous chemicals in the work environment.
Even if a work facility isn’t prone to a release of chemical hazards, many work environments can be deemed dangerous for toxins or other hazardous substances that can affect a worker’s health. The United States Environmental Protection Agency offers the following general safe practices to all employers in any industry:
-Provide workers with respirators designed to keep dust inhalation to a minimum.
-Workers should use nonhazardous cleaning solutions to clean hands and arms or other body parts after a dirty job.
-Train all employees to make sure containers with hazardous substances are sealed at all times.
-Employees should be instructed to wear protective equipment like gloves, overalls, or eye protection when exposure to chemicals or hazardous substances is possible.
-Have waste products removed from a work environment immediately.
-Develop a safety plan to prevent employees from being exposed. All exposures must be documented and kept on record.
-Evaluate the safety of a work environment routinely. Take note of procedures that seem to be working and make changes when accidents are occurring on the clock.
One accident is too many. Employers must take the initiative to prevent chemical exposure for all employees by training all workers about safe practices while performing work tasks. Waiting until an employee is exposed may be too late to save them from a life-changing and long-lasting illness that can lead to an early death.
If you or a loved one has been exposed to a dangerous substance or hazardous chemical at work, contact Lee Law Offices, P.A. for a free and confidential appointment. We represent injured workers in Charlotte, Greensboro, Asheville and surrounding areas. Call 1-800-887-1965 to speak with an experienced workers’ compensation attorney about your claim today.
More Blog Entries:
OSHA to Improve Workers’ Safety and Health at Asheville Nursing Homes, Nationwide, North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Lawyers Blog, November 16, 2011.
North Carolina Welders Exposed to Hexavalent Chromium at Risk of Nose, Throat and Lung Damage, North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Lawyers Blog, October 20, 2011.
Charlotte Lab Workers in Danger of Daily Exposure to Hazardous Chemicals or Toxins, North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Lawyers Blog, October 18, 2011.