OSHA, NIOSH Issue Information on Protecting Workers Who Use Chemical Cleaners
November 1, 2012 | Evaluations & Guidance
The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) recently published an InfoSheet on protecting workers who use chemical cleaners on a daily basis, including maintenance workers, janitors, and other staff in healthcare facilities. Hazards associated with the use of chemical cleaners can include skin rashes, burning eyes, sore throat, coughing, and asthma.
The InfoSheet outlines factors that contribute to whether a cleaning chemical will cause a health problem, including the ingredients used in the chemical, how the chemical is used and stored, and whether there is sufficient ventilation in the area where the chemical is used. It also details some alternative cleaning methods that minimize the use of chemicals, discusses safe work practices when using chemical cleaners, and emphasizes the importance of training workers on these practices. (The OSHA Hazard Communication Standard requires that workers who come in contact with potentially hazardous chemicals receive adequate training and personal protective equipment to ensure their safety. The standard has recently been updated—see this article for more information. ...