Ventilation is one of the most important engineering controls available for maximizing the quality of air in a work environment. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has addressed a number of statistics related to proper ventilation in its recent standard #1926.57.
Here are some tips for staying OSHA compliant and, more importantly, ensuring that your employees leave work the same way they arrived: safe and injury free, when they work in areas where ventilation is an issue.
Recognize the Hazards
Wherever hazardous substances –dust, fumes, mists, vapors or gases – exist or are produced, it’s critically important that their limits do not exceed OSHA specifications. In addition, proper steps must be taken and personal protective equipment provided to ensure employee safety.
- Local exhaust ventilation must be designed to prevent hazardous substances from being dispersed into the air at harmful concentration levels. Exhaust systems must be in operation even if an employee remains in an area after work operations have ceased. The specific length of time involved depends on individual circumstances.
- Abrasive blasting enclosures, ducts and dust collectors must be properly constructed. Loose panels or explosion venting areas must provide pressure relief.
- Blast cleaning enclosures must be exhaust ventilated. This maintains continuous inward air flow at all openings during blasting operations. The rate of exhaust must be sufficient to provide prompt clearance of dust-laden air within an enclosure after blasting is complete. Before an enclosure is opened, the blast must be turned off and the exhaust system run long enough to remove dusty air.
- When dust leaks are noted, repairs must be made promptly. Static pressure drops at exhaust ducts leading from equipment must be checked regularly, and systems must be cleaned and returned to normal whenever there is an appreciable drop.
Personal Protective Equipment
Updated OSHA standards provide these personal protective equipment (PPE) reminders:
- Safety glasses must be worn in observation areas where hard, deep-cutting abrasives are used.
- NIOSH-approved respirators must be worn by all abrasive-blasting operators. Dust-filter respirators may be used for short or occasional dust exposures, such as cleanup or dumping of dust collectors.
- Other PPE guidelines cover proper gloves, safety shoes and eye and face protection.
For more information on this and other current OSHA guidelines and requirements, contact the expert team at Premium Staffing. We have the resources you need to keep your workforce safe and productive!