Chemical Workplace exposures

NSC to employers: Reduce chemical exposures to prevent illnesses

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Itasca, IL – Employers should take steps to better manage occupational exposures to help prevent the estimated 53,000 fatal workplace illnesses that occur each year, the National Safety Council announced April 22.

Chemical exposures are a leading contributor to occupational illnesses. As many as 650,000 hazardous chemical products are used in the United States, according to NSC, and their effects can last long after exposure.

The council recommends that employers consider the latest scientific research, consensus standards and employer practices – which may go beyond OSHA requirements – to determine effective control strategies. The statement was released in anticipation of Workers Memorial Day on April 28.

“Workplace fatalities due to illness are estimated to be more than 10 times that of deaths from workplace injuries,” NSC President and CEO Deborah A.P. Hersman said in a press release. “On Workers Memorial Day, the National Safety Council commits to helping employers prevent any future loss of life in honor of those whose lives were cut too short.”

Many chemicals used in the workplace do not have an OSHA permissible exposure limit, and current PELs are out of date and no longer adequately protect workers, the agency has said. Last year, OSHA announced an initiative to address chemical hazards. The agency is seeking input from stakeholders on the best way to approach workplace chemical exposure.