Occupational exposure to hazardous substances, such as asbestos, formaldehyde and cadmium, can lead to cancer and other long-term serious health diagnoses years after exposure, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports.
To reduce employee exposure to health hazards and encourage companies to make workplace safety and health a priority, the U.S. Department of Labor Occupational Safety and Health Administration's (OSHA) regional office in Kansas City has established a Regional Emphasis Program targeting OSHA's Top 50 High-Hazard Health Industries.
“Workers should not have to risk their health for a paycheck,” said OSHA Acting Regional Administrator Billie Kizer in Kansas City. “OSHA's goal is to increase awareness of the dangers of such exposures and ensure employers are implementing required safety and health procedures to prevent potential lifelong illness.”
OSHA will focus its health inspections on employers with documented employee exposure through previous agency inspections and at companies in similar industries. The agency determined that relying solely on injury and illness data is inadequate in identifying exposure to these workplace hazards because the onset of symptoms can occur years after exposure. The emphasis program will assist in developing an inspection targeting system to identify those worksites with health hazards.
The Regional Emphasis Program's initial phase will include informational mailings to employers, professional associations, local safety councils, apprenticeship programs, local hospitals and occupational health clinics, and OSHA presentations to industry organizations and stakeholders. OSHA will also encourage employers to use the agency's free consultation services to help them implement noise safety strategies and ensure compliance with OSHA standards.
OSHA offers several compliance assistance resources on preventative measures, including respiratory protection, personal protective equipment, occupational noise exposure, and hazard exposure and risk management.
OSHA encourages employers to take steps to identify, reduce and eliminate hazards related to exposure to hazardous substances during the REP's initial phase. Following its three-month outreach that began on Oct. 1, the REP empowers OSHA to schedule and inspect select manufacturing industries in Kansas, Missouri and Nebraska.