Workplace exposures Chemical Manufacturing

‘Chemical Detox for the Workplace’: Advocacy group publishes guide for workers, reps

Agriculture worker
Photo: hedgehog94/iStockphoto

Washington — A new guide from the Center for Progressive Reform is intended to help workers and their representatives find resources on chemical hazards and then use that information to “achieve a nontoxic workplace.”

In Chemical Detox for the Workplace: A Guide to Securing a Nontoxic Work Environment, the advocacy group recommends moving faster than OSHA and the Environmental Protection Agency to secure a safer and healthier work environment where potential exposure to toxic chemicals exists.

“Agencies like OSHA and EPA encounter serious obstacles when developing workplace protections against toxic substances, even when they have overwhelming scientific evidence of significant health risks,” Thomas McGarity, guide co-author and CPR board member, said in an April 17 press release. “The difficulty results not from a lack of data, but from intense lobbying from well-funded industries.”

The guide is divided into three main sections. The first provides tactics for reducing risks and helping injured employees. Among the subjects are how to work with an employer to use safer alternatives to toxic chemicals, as well as how to file a complaint with OSHA, submit a tip to EPA and involve the legal system.

The second provides an overview of federal laws, and the third is designed to help interested parties diminish hazards in the workplace and identify chemical information. The guide also includes case studies.

An estimated 50,000 U.S. workers die every year from work-related diseases, with most resulting from toxic chemical exposures, CPR claims, citing a 2018 AFL-CIO report. Workers who are at increased risk include those in agriculture, domestic cleaning, hair and nail salons, home repairs, building construction, and chemical manufacturing.


“Although the guide does not cover every issue or situation workers may face, it is our hope that it will assist with identifying the appropriate questions to ask; initiating research on chemicals of concern in the workplace; and collaborating with other workers, unions and local organizers to take action,” Sidney Shapiro, co-author and CPR board member, said in the release.

CPR is scheduled to host a webinar on the guide at 1 p.m. Eastern on May 8.

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