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Is Your Workplace a Haven for Toxic Fumes?

July 21, 2021By Niko Pothitakis

Manufacturing processes often expose workers to toxic fumes in the workplace. For example, vehicle manufacturing and fuel unearthing processes can expose employees to various chemical vapors as a part of their daily work. OSHA requires employers to provide safety training and equipment to workers. OSHA rules and regulations are designed to protect workers from toxic exposures.

Protecting Employees Against Toxic Fumes

Toxic fumes can cause a wide variety of work-related injuries and diseases, including urinary tract cancer, lung cancer, kidney damage, respiratory disease, and nervous system disorders. To help keep workers safe from these and other hazards, the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has put certain rules and regulations in place. The administration requires employers to provide sufficient training and equipment to help protect against toxic chemicals in workplaces where they’re often produced.

Toxic fumes continue to be a problem in many workplaces, despite OSHA’s efforts. Earlier this year, one Iowa worker was overcome by fumes while working at a food packaging manufacturing plant.

To prevent factory accidents like this, OSHA put into place Hazard Communication Standards (HCS) that require employers to collect and disseminate data about the various hazards and identities of chemicals that put their workers at risk. Under these standards, chemical manufacturers and importers also must prepare labels and safety information that properly communicate information about the hazards their products present to end consumers.

Additionally, employers with employees who work in environments that contribute to toxic fume exposure need to identify and assess these hazards, ensuring that they don’t go over the Occupational Exposure Limits (OELs). They also need to provide free respiratory protective equipment to all employees, along with sufficient education and training around their proper use.

Industries and Occupations That Put Workers at Risk

Several occupations put workers at risk more than others for toxic fume exposure. For instance, oil and gas workers may encounter airborne silica while performing hydraulic fracturing processes, which can lead to lung diseases and other respiratory issues. Hairdressers may also breathe in toxic hair products that cause lung problems over time. Healthcare workers also frequently gain exposure to biological agents and other dangerous substances that may lead to infections.

The risks of toxic fumes make it necessary for employers and employees to adhere to OSHA rules and regulations around these fumes in the workplace, which can keep them safer and healthier.