OSHA LogoWorkers in many varying industries are consistently exposed to potentially harmful substances. Through careful monitoring, use of life safety systems, and government programs, many of the dangers can be avoided.  It’s just as important for employers and employees to remain aware and vigilant.

One particularly harmful substance, which we focused on in a recent blog post, is isocyanates.  These compounds are classified as potential carcinogens, and can cause irritation of the skin, eyes, nose, and throat, as well as asthma.  Asthma-related deaths have occurred as a result of isocyanates exposure.

As a result, OSHA announced a new National Emphasis Program on June 25 to protect workers from the dangers of isocyanates. Like their other National Emphasis Programs, this will focus on both inspections and outreach efforts to call attention to the hazards, and encourage prevention.  The efforts will focus on general workplaces, as well as the construction and maritime industries.

According to Dr. David Michaels, OSHA’s Assistant Secretary of Labor, “Workers exposed to isocyanates can suffer debilitating health problems for months or even years after exposure. Through this program, OSHA will strengthen protections for workers exposed to isocyanates.”

In conjunction with OSHA’s program, employers should provide education and training related to isocyanates safety, and ensure all precautions are taken, and risks are minimized. We all have a responsibility to keep workers safe and healthy, and programs such as this can help those efforts.