OSHA launches Midwest emphasis program on hazardous substances
Kansas City, MO — A new Regional Emphasis Program from OSHA is aimed at protecting workers in the Midwest from occupational exposure to hazardous and potentially carcinogenic substances such as asbestos, formaldehyde and cadmium.
In effect since Oct. 1 and set to expire Sept. 30, 2026, the REP applies to Kansas, Missouri and Nebraska and will target the agency’s top 50 “high-hazard health industries.” According to the REP, industries ranked among the top 15 in this category in fiscal year 2021 include:
- Personal and household goods repair and maintenance
- Plumbing fixture manufacturing
- Glassware manufacturing
- Paint and coating manufacturing
- Conveyor and conveying equipment manufacturing
- Cut stone and stone product manufacturing
The initial phase of the REP will span three months and comprise an educational campaign featuring informational mailings to employers, professional associations, hospitals and occupational health clinics, as well as OSHA presentations to industry organizations and stakeholders. The agency encourages employers to use its free compliance assistance resources.
After the initial phase, OSHA will “schedule and inspect select manufacturing industries” in the covered states, a press release from the agency states. Having determined that the sole use of occupational injury and illness data “is inadequate in identifying exposure to these workplace hazards” because symptoms can begin years later, OSHA will focus health inspections on “employers with documented employee exposure through previous agency inspections and at companies in similar industries.”
Under this strategy, OSHA says it intends to create an inspection targeting system to identify worksites with health hazards related to exposure to hazardous substances.
“Workers should not have to risk their health for a paycheck,” Billie Kizer, OSHA’s acting regional administrator in Kansas City, said in the release. “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.”