OSHA issues tips on protecting workers from mercury in fluorescent bulbs

Washington – To help protect workers from mercury exposure from compact fluorescent light bulbs – which contain a small amount of mercury that can be hazardous to workers who handle, dispose of and recycle the bulbs – OSHA issued a fact sheet (.pdf file) and Quick Card (.pdf file) outlining precautions for workplaces where CFLs are intentionally broken.

Tips include:

  • Have a cleanup plan that includes a vacuum cleaner specifically designed for mercury collection.
  • Isolate areas where bulbs are crushed and recycled from workers not involved in that process.
  • Ensure the area is well-ventilated, and measure the level of mercury in the air.
  • Make use of personal protective equipment, including coveralls, gloves, safety goggles and, if engineering or administrative controls are not adequate to control mercury levels, respirators.

Depending on the duration and level of exposure, OSHA said mercury can lead to nervous system disorders and kidney problems, and harm unborn children.

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