Section 5(a)(1) of the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 (OSH Act), the General Duty Clause, requires that employers:
“shall furnish to each of his employees employment and a place of employment which are free from recognized hazards that are causing or likely to cause death or serious physical harm to his employees."
This standard is also called the HazCom Standard. It requires evaluating the potential hazards of chemicals, and communicating information concerning those hazards and appropriate protective measures to employees. The standard includes provisions for:
The standard also requires manufacturers and importers of hazardous chemicals to provide Safety Data Sheets to users of the chemicals describing potential hazards and other information. They must also attach hazard warning labels to containers of the chemicals. Employers must make SDSs available to workers. They must also train their workers in the hazards caused by the chemicals workers are exposed to and the appropriate protective measures that must be used when handling the chemicals.
For additional training on this topic, be sure to check out Course 705 Hazard Communication Program.
The BPP standard requires employers to protect workers from infection with human bloodborne pathogens in the workplace. The standard covers all workers with “reasonably anticipated” exposure to blood or other potentially infectious materials (OPIM).
It requires that information and training be provided:
The Bloodborne Pathogens standard also requires advance information and training for all workers in research laboratories who handle human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) or hepatitis B virus (HBV).
The employer must develop a written exposure control plan (ECP) to provide a safe and healthy work environment and is allowed some flexibility in accomplishing this goal. Among other things, the ECP requires employers to:
Although the OSHA standard only applies to bloodborne pathogens, the protective measures in the standard (e.g., ECP, engineering and work practice controls, administrative controls, PPE, housekeeping, training, post-exposure medical follow-up) are the same measures for effectively controlling exposure to other biological agents.
For additional training on bloodborne pathogens safety, take Course 655 Bloodborne Pathogens in the Workplace and Course 755 Bloodborne Pathogens Program Management.
This standard requires employers to provide and pay for PPE and ensure that it is used wherever hazards are encountered in a manner capable of causing injury or impairment in the function of any part of the body through absorption, inhalation or physical contact. The types of hazards covered include:
In order to determine whether and what PPE is needed, the employer must assess the workplace to determine if hazards are present, or are likely to be present, which necessitate the use of PPE. Based on that assessment, the employer must select appropriate PPE that will protect the affected worker from the hazards and select PPE that properly fits each affected employee.
Employers must provide training for workers required to use PPE that addresses when and what PPE is necessary, how to wear and care for PPE properly, and the limitations of PPE. Of course, the training should also include why the use of the specific PPE is important.
This standard requires employers to ensure that each affected worker uses appropriate eye or face protection when exposed to eye or face hazards from flying particles, molten metal, liquid chemicals, acids or caustic liquids, chemical gases or vapors, or potentially injurious light radiation.
This standard requires that a respirator be provided to each worker when such equipment is necessary to protect the health of such individual. The employer must provide respirators that are appropriate and suitable for the purpose intended. The employer is responsible for establishing and maintaining a respiratory protection program that includes the following:
This standard requires employers to select and ensure that workers use appropriate hand protection when their hands are exposed to hazards such as:
Employers must base the selection of appropriate hand protection on an evaluation of the performance characteristics of the hand protection relative to the task(s) to be performed, conditions present, duration of use, and the hazards and potential hazards identified.
Often called the “Lockout/Tagout” standard, this regulation establishes basic requirements for locking and/or tagging out equipment while installation, maintenance, testing, repair, or construction operations are in progress. The primary purpose of the standard is to protect workers from the unexpected energization or startup of machines or equipment, or release of stored energy. The procedures apply to the shutdown of all potential energy sources associated with machines or equipment, including pressures, flows of fluids and gases, electrical power, and radiation.
Foot protection is designed to prevent injury and illness from exposure to corrosive chemicals, heavy objects, and electrical shock. Foot protection should also provide adequate traction on wet floors. The most vulnerable portion of the body is feet if a corrosive chemical or heavy object falls on the floor. Therefore, foot protection should completely cover and protect the foot.
Foot protection should be selected to protect against the specific hazards in the laboratory. Caution should be used when wearing fabric shoes because they readily absorb chemical substances. Be sure to remove footwear immediately if chemicals spill on fabric shoes.
The following are recommended types of footwear:
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