Industrial Hygiene Testing for Recyclers
In an effort to evaluate and control environmental factors that may impair health, industrial hygiene (IH) testing should be a necessary process for all recycling workplaces. The nature of recycling includes taking someone else’s waste product – that would most likely end up in a landfill – and repurposing, reusing or changing the waste into something of value. As a result, there will be a bi-product, or even a new product, that’s produced. The chance that something will be released into the air during this process is unavoidable. This release poses a risk to employees in recycling facilities that sometimes isn’t easily identifiable. We’ve summarized four steps that will help you mitigate your risk and keep your employees healthy and safe.
- Understand the Chemical Components
The first step for mitigating this risk is to understand the chemical components that make up the products you’re recycling. On the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s website, you’re able to conduct a search to learn if there are any toxic compounds within your commodities that can prove to be harmful to the employees.
- Perform a Test
Next, you must perform a test in your facility or warehouse to receive a baseline reading. This will be the data that the following tests will be measured by in changes as well as acceptability. These measurements of the IH test focus in on what personal exposure to particulates not otherwise regulated that employees are exposed to. Based on these results, different steps may follow.
- Notify Employees
If there’s a reading outside of the parameters, you’re required to notify any and all employees who have been exposed. This must be done in writing, in the work environment and within 15 days of the results.
- Implement Programs
Finally, these results will help determine if a respiratory program will be required. It’s best to consult OSHA Respiratory Protection Standards at 219 CFR Part 1910.134 for these guidelines. Additionally, if there’s been exposure, an engineering program must be implemented to correct the hazard to the employees. Most importantly, there needs to be a re-monitoring of the space that failed the guidelines to show that the employees are no longer exposed to the hazard.
IH testing is a critical step to address within the recycling workplaces. By identifying what exposures your recycling operation has, it can prevent large workers’ compensation and liability claims from arising in the future. Contact an ‘A’ Team member if you’re concerned about your risk and sign up for our OSHA Industry Training Seminar.
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