OSHA for the Workers PDF Print E-mail
Written by Dr. Niru Prasad   



Dr. Niru Prasad, M.D., F.A.C.E.P., F.A.A.P.

Department of Emergency Medicine

West Bloomfield Center

Henry Ford Hospital, Detroit

Department of Pediatrics and Urgent Care Center

St. Joseph Mercy Hospital, Pontiac

    The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health

    (NIOSH) recommends the following appropriate preventive

    measures to reduce or eliminate the adverse health and

    safety effects of physical, chemical or toxic gas exposures

    to their workers.  The OSHA (Occupational Safe Healthy

    Association) also recommends the use of adequate fitting

    respirators for the workers who are exposed to toxic fumes

    that are immediately dangerous to life or health.


    Under the NIOSH respirator decision logic, the most

    protective respirators, i.e. a self contained breathing

    apparatus equipped with a full face piece and operated in a

    pressure demand or other positive pressure mode would be

    selected for the firefighters, exposure to carcinogens,

    entry into oxygen deficient atmospheres, in emergency

    situations during entry into an atmosphere containing a

    substance at a concentration greater than 2000 times the

    NIOSH recommends and for an entry into IDLH (immediate

    danger to life and health atmosphere).

    Safety precaution tips towards occupational exposures to

    chemicals and physical hazards for workers:

              1.   A general safety measure involves no eating, no

                   drinking or no smoking in the general areas where the

                   chemicals are being used.

              2.   Wear protective glasses to prevent your eyes against

                   contact with the chemical irritants.

              3.   Accidents involving Radiation hazards.

          Since the majority of accidents involving the radioactive

          materials occur in the facilities that uses these

          materials, protect yourself if you are working in those


          The risk of further radiation exposure occurs when:


            1.   The source of radiation is still present and active.


            2.   Radioactive material has spilled on the patient.

          Before entering the involved area, put on protective

          clothing and rubber gloves.  If the materials have

          spilled on your clothes, remove the clothing and wash

          yourself thoroughly.  The clothing should be stored in

          radioactive waste containers.

          If you are a factory worker involved with dealing hazardous

          materials, understand and make yourself familiar with the

          various toxicity of the materials and learn to protect

          yourself as well as the process of decontamination.

          The Chemical Manufacturers Association has established the

          Chemical Transportation Emergency Center (CHEMTREC) in

          Washington, D.C. and they can be contacted 24 hours a day

          by calling a toll-free number 1-800-424-9300 regarding

          information on any hazardous material.

          In case an accident happens:

              1.   Remove yourself outside of the area and breathe fresh


              2.   Brush off any solid material that may remain on your

                   body and clothes.

              3.   In case of chemical burn, flood the skin with water

                   then treat the burn area accordingly.

              4.   If accidental swallowing of toxic material has

                   happened, ask for immediate medical help, induce

                   vomiting and take activated charcoal as indicated.

              5.   There are four accepted methods of decontamination

                   that everyone should be aware of:


                        a.  Dilution - means flushing the contaminated person

                             or equipment with water.

                        b.  Absorption - the use of filters and chemicals to

                             absorb the hazardous material.

                        c.  Chemical washes to neutralize the hazardous


                        d.  Proper disposal and isolation of the contaminated


A few further safety tips for personal protection:

          1.   Protect the airway by wearing appropriate mask or

                respirator as indicated.

          2.   In case of emergency, evaluate the area and try to     

                get fresh air.

          3.   Prevent skin contact by wearing appropriate personal

                protective clothing and rubber gloves.  For protection

                against frostbite, wear layered protective clothing to

                prevent the skin from becoming frozen by contact with

                the cold liquid or cold metal bottles.  In case

                frostbite develops remove the clothing, warm the

                extremity in warm, heated water, elevate the area and

                seek medical help.

          4.   Prevent eye contact by wearing protective glasses, avoid

                using contact lens and in case of emergency, wash your

                eyes thoroughly and ask for medical help.