While limiting airborne hazards may not be at the top of companies' business strategies, firms may want to explore their options to provide cleaner air for their employees to avoid fines for safety and health violations. As the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration cracks down on safety violations for its Severe Violator Enforcement Program (SVEP), the agency may turn its attention to companies that repeatedly expose their workers to chemicals without providing them with the proper engineering controls or other workplace safety resources. Companies should consider installing air purification equipment as part of their compliance with OSHA standards to protect workers against dangerous airborne chemicals.
Recently, the agency proposed fining a chemical manufacturer almost $450,000 for failing to resolve hazards that were pointed out after a fire in April 2012. Of the 23 safety and health violations observed at the company, one was repeat, seven were willful and 15 were serious.
Many of these violations showed the manufacturer did not properly use safety procedures and controls regarding chemical exposure. Five out of the seven willful violations involved failing to follow OSHA's process safety management regulations and requirements that are meant to guard workers against toxic chemicals.
"The other two willful violations involve failing to provide specific procedures to protect workers from dangerous machines during maintenance, to provide ventilation for emissions, and to remove and replace temporary wiring installed during the fire restoration project," according to OSHA. "A willful violation is one committed with intentional, knowing or voluntary disregard for the law's requirement, or with plain indifference to employee safety and health."
Why air purification solutions are crucial for worker health
As part of OSHA's SVEP for companies that violate the agency's standards repeatedly or willfully, OSHA will enforce rules related to potential exposure to highly hazardous chemicals. Since many of these chemicals may become airborne and cause negative health effects, companies may want to install air purification solutions.
The facility that reportedly had repeat violations used the chemical thionyl chloride, which is frequently used in pharmaceutical and fragrance products. When workers are exposed to this particular chemical, they may experience issues related to their eyes, skin and respiratory systems.
Companies may want to use air purification solutions that will extract hazardous chemicals like thionyl chloride from the air before employees inhale them and have health issues.
By Leonard Roulier
Industry regulation and worker respiratory safety news brought to you by Air Impurities Removal Systems, Inc.