Archive for category particulate monitoring
Last summer, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency conducted an air quality survey at Union Station in Chicago. The results showed elevated concentrations of respirable particulate matter (PM2.5) in ambient air on train platforms and nearby streets.
PM2.5 is a mixture of liquid droplets and particles measuring 2.5 micrometers in diameter or smaller. These tiny particles can be inhaled deep into the lungs where they can enter the bloodstream and cause serious health problems. The risk is even more severe for youth, the elderly and those with respiratory conditions like asthma.
Are we running exhaust fans enough to keep the air breathable and safe? Are we over-running fans and wasting energy?
Area exposure monitors are ideal for showing airborne particulate concentration over time in a designated area. Personal exposure monitors can do the same, but they also provide usable details about concentrations within the employee’s breathing zone. Used together, the two device types provide effective real-time data for making decisions regarding employee health and ventilation control.
Recently, we helped a customer with a large welding operation. There was visible smoke on the plant floor during operation, so they needed to address both potential hexavalent chrome and total respirable dust exposure. They decided to use the TSI DustTrak DRX handheld unit for area monitoring, and employees started wearing TSI SidePak AM510s for personal monitoring.
Do workers in your offices suffer from long bouts of sneezing, sniffling, cough, sore throat, itchy or red eyes and skin, or fatigue — for no explainable reason?
The mold and pollen counts are low. But workers complain of headaches, stuffed noses, itchy eyes, and breathing problems. Do they say they feel better at home in the evenings or on weekends, or when they leave the office during lunch? Is it just cold season, or an environmental illness caused by exposure to respirable particles or chemicals?
Effective, Monday, August 3, 2015, OSHA issued a new standard for construction work in confined spaces. The new subpart replaces the existing training requirement with a comprehensive program designed to protect employees from the atmospheric and physical hazards associated with working in confined spaces.
The new standard reiterates the importance of enforcing required safety procedures by addressing construction-specific hazards. With the new change, OSHA aims to reduce the number of injuries and accidental deaths at hazardous area construction sites.
According to OSHA Assistant Secretary of Labor, Dr. David Michaels, the new rule places a stronger emphasis on training, requires continuous worksite evaluations, and raises communication standards throughout the industry.
Stronger Emphasis on Training
In a constantly changing work environment, it’s important for construction workers to have a proficient understanding of the exposure hazards and the methods used to isolate and control those hazards.
In a training a few weeks ago, that’s how I started my session to a room full of IH and safety professionals: The Star Trek Tricorder just doesn’t exist. There’s no magic instrument that measures everything with 100% accuracy.
And it was sad news to the professionals from power plants, food production, healthcare, and metals industries that had joined us for the day. Their goal was to optimize their IH and safety practices by better use of direct-reading instruments. But before we built them up with knowledge, we had to tear down the idea that there was one tool to rule them all (sorry, mixing SciFi and Fantasy there, but you get it).