OSHA directive targets protection for metals manufacturing workers
Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics has revealed increasing incidents of problems in the primary metals industries. They include exposure to metals dusts and fumes, carbon monoxide, lead and silica, and noise and heat hazards.
The National Emphasis Program for the Primary Metals Industries identifies some of the hazards and outlines steps to curb exposure. Exposure to substances in these industries can damage the eyes, nose, throat, and skin and can lead to difficulty breathing as well as chest and joint pain.
The Primary Metals Industries are a group of establishments engaged in the smelting and refining of ferrous and nonferrous metals, according to OSHA. These metals are refined from ore, pig and scrap during rolling, drawing, casting, and alloying metal operations. Some of the products they manufacture include nails, spikes, insulated wires and cables, steel piping, sheets and bars, copper and aluminum products, and coke.
The NEP says the primary means for controlling exposures include local exhaust ventilation to remove contaminants at their source, enclosing production processes or exposure sources, isolation of the processes or exposure sources, substitution of less hazardous materials and general dilution ventilation.
As part of the initiative, OSHA will inspect facilities that manufacture primary metals and metal products and conduct follow-up site visits.
The NEP will "raise awareness of the dangers of exposure to metals and other chemicals so that employers can correct hazards and comply with OSHA standards," the agency said. OSHA has also issued NEPs for hexavalent chromium, lead, and crystalline silica.
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July 11, 2011
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