- November 9, 2018
Monitoring for Respiratory Hazards—Challenges and Opportunities in the Workplace
Monitoring and sampling for dusts, gases, vapors, and mists should be a part of any personal exposure assessment initiative and is not only accepted practice, it represents best practice when done correctly.
Of the "Top 10" OSHA standards that were cited in 2017, respiratory protection, general industry (29 CFR 1910.134) ranked fourth—after fall protection, hazard communication, and scaffolding. In general industry standards, only hazard communication citation was more prevalent.
Now, with the new construction standard for silica (29 CFR 1926.1153) requiring employers to limit exposure to this very common material, you can be sure more citations are going to be happening. In fact, it was reported in summer 2018 that a contractor was recently cited for willful and serious violations of the new rule for which their state' OSHA compliance office has proposed a fine of more than $300,000.
Why So Much Emphasis on Respiratory Exposures?
Occupational exposure to deadly chemical and physical agents typically occurs through one of the three common routes: inhalation, ingestion, and absorption. Of these pathways into the human body, inhalation is the fastest because the respiratory system is directly linked to the circulatory system. Thus, while the process of breathing provides us with the oxygen we need to survive, many of the contaminants that are in the air we may breathe at a work site are in a form that allows them to be deposited deep into the lungs. Because exposure to these contaminants is not always able to be removed through engineering controls and administrative controls become restrictive to production, PPE in the form of multiple kinds and types of respirators is a commonplace solution.
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