Written By: Robert E. Sheriff, MS, CIH, CSP, President
May 8, 2017
As of this year, 2017, industrial work in the United States certainly seems to be expanding. The concern is: Is the effort to control the air that a worker breathes, keeping pace with the industrial expansion? Experience says that it definitely lags behind.
In short, the potential for worker exposure to chemicals in the workplace will result in an increase in illness, worker compensation claims and OSHA recordable illnesses.
The first step at worker exposure control is to monitor the work environment. The best method of determining worker exposure is actual sampling of the worker while he/she is performing the chemical exposure task. Miniaturization of sampling equipment now allows samplers to be directly attached to the worker. This can be a small, battery powered sampler attached to the worker while a particular task is performed. The testing can be as short as a few minutes or a full shift. Some samplers are so small they can be attached to the worker’s lapel for a full shift. Once the exposure testing period is complete, the sample can be sent to a laboratory for analysis.
The proper person to do the sampling is referred to as an industrial hygienist—or a specially trained safety person. This industrial hygienist would generally observe the sampled worker for at least some of the time, so that when results are obtained from the laboratory, they can be interpreted in line with the work performed so that a professional judgment can be made as to whether the exposure was safe, and within acceptable exposure limits, and not above any regulatory limit.
In some instances, the equipment/sampler can be purchased or rented and sent to a qualified laboratory for analysis and the results sent back to the person who performed the testing. The problem with this approach is that the individual receiving the results is not educated or experienced enough to interpret the results.
Interpreting the results, the impact of exposure and the need for corrective measures are more important than the sampling itself—even if done properly.
As time goes on, the sampling equipment and methods become more accurate but the interpretation of the test results become more complex. Thus, as time goes on and testing equipment and methods improve, the need for an experienced industrial hygienist, toxicologist, and epidemiologist becomes more critical.
Another complexity involves testing and analysis that duplicates the acceptable sampling criteria for OSHA regulated substances. There are about 500 chemical agents in the U.S. Workplace that are specifically regulated by OSHA. Sampling and analysis and interpretation of results regarding OSHA compliance must be done by a person/organization that can duplicate the sampling according to OSHA methods and be able to determine compliance with the appropriate regulations.
We have the technical and professional staff to do sampling and interpretation.
If further information is desired, feel free to contact us at 800-344-4414 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Our primary service areas for Industrial Hygiene Sampling are: NJ, NY, NYC, PA, CT, DE, MA, RI, Wash DC, WI, MD, MI, IL, VA, IN, GA, AL, NC, SC, TN, TX, OK, DC, AR, we can service most other areas of the U.S. but with some added travel charges.