Industrial Hygiene Testing Results

Industrial Hygiene Blogs So Far

This is the ninth in a series of blogs on industrial hygiene (IH). Our last blog covered the selection of an industrial hygiene testing firm. The current blog will address what to do with the industrial hygiene testing results.

The Report

Most likely, if you selected a reputable firm with experience and a Certified Industrial Hygienist on staff, you will end up with a thorough report. The objective and scope of work will be stated and the methods will be identified. Details of the testing event will be provided. Then, the results will be presented and evaluated. They will be compared to regulatory limits of the U.S. Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA, www.osha.gov) and recommended limits of organizations such as the American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists (ACGIH, www.acgih.org) and the National Institute for Occupational Safety & Health (NIOSH, www.cdc.gov).

Oftentimes, we are asked why limits beyond OSHA’s are included. The reason is that in many cases, OSHA’s limits are 40 years old. They have not been able to keep up with new information and data, because most of their moves are challenged in court. We are talking worker protection here and minimizing your company’s liabilities. The other limits such as ACGIH’s Threshold Limit Values® (TLVs®) and NIOSH’s Recommended Exposure Limits (RELs) are more current and can be considered industry standards. Our legal friends tell us that you can be held accountable to industry standards in a court of law. Therefore, you want to take these recommended limits seriously.

Control Options

So, let’s say your report shows that the airborne concentrations of certain chemicals in your plant exceed the regulatory or recommended limits. What are your options to control the situation? OSHA would prefer that you use administrative controls or engineering controls INDUSTRIAL HYGIENE TESTING RESULTSfirst and as a last resort personal protective equipment (PPE).  Why is PPE considered a last resort? Because it is the last line of defense.  If it fails, your workers may be ex-posed to hazardous airborne concentrations. Therefore, OSHA prefers that the hazard be eliminated or reduced to a level that is either nonhazardous or is as low as reasonably achievable.

Here are a few examples of controls. Administrative controls may involve substitution of chemicals with less hazardous chemicals, or shift rotation to minimize the time of exposure, or changing the task so the worker is less exposed, or training employees properly. Engineering controls could include exhaust ventilation, automated dispensing of chemicals, general ventilation, and more. Of course PPE includes respirators, safety glasses, welding curtains, protective clothing, gloves, and on and on.

What Next?

Assemble the appropriate players and evaluate the different control options. The cost, effectiveness, and likelihood to be used are real factors for serious consideration. Once a selection is made and the controls are implemented, decide when to retest. After all, you probably won’t know whether the controls are effective without data.

So that concludes our blog on what to do with the results from completing industrial hygiene testing. And we have now covered a lot of ground in the field of industrial hygiene.

If you need any help, Environmental Safety Consultants (www.escflorida.com) is here.  We are a Florida licensed environmental engineering company with a CIH on staff.  We have the credentials and experience to help you complete your industrial hygiene project.

We are just a telephone call (800-226-1735) or an e-mail away (escinc@verizon.net).  Contact us today!

Industrial Hygiene Testing Firm Selection

Industrial Hygiene Blogs So Far

This is the eighth in a series of blogs on industrial hygiene (IH). Our last blog covered the design of industrial hygiene testing. The current blog will address how to select an industrial hygiene firm to do the testing.

Selection Players

Most likely, you will need other players besides yourself to select the firm to do the industrial hygiene testing. It often takes representatives from Safety, Facilities, Maintenance, Operations, and Purchasing. Each of these players has a different interest and plays a different role in the project. They have interests in worker protection, compliance, production efficiency, and expenditure of money and man hours. They must communicate on the project.  A meeting may be necessary.

Testing Objective

INDUSTRIAL HYGIENE TESTING FIRM SELECTIONAssuming that you are in charge of Safety, you need to control the selection and must make sure that the players understand the objective. You want to be clear and concise. For example, you may advise the players that our objective is to determine if our painters applying the primer and finish coats are being overexposed to methylene chloride. They spray the paints off and on for a total of six hours during their eight hour shift five days a week. We have exhaust ventilation in the paint spray booths and they wear full facepiece air purifying respirators equipped with organic vapor filters piggybacked with particulate filters. Assuming the respirators have the proper protection factor, what are they exposed to if the respirator fails or they do not don it properly? We want to know what the airborne methylene chloride concentration is on an eight hour time weighted average (TWA) basis and on a fifteen to thirty minute short-term basis. Does it exceed the limits of OSHA (www.osha.gov) or ACGIH (www.acgih.org)? If so, we need to reduce their exposure.

Selection Criteria

Again, you will need to take the lead in suggesting the criteria to select the industrial hygiene testing firm. You may specify that the firm has on staff a Certified Industrial Hygienist (CIH), ten years of experience, a quick response time, and a reasonable turnaround time. Other players will have their criteria.

Purchasing may want to check the firm out on Dun & Bradstreet to make sure they are financially sound.

Request Estimate

Once the criteria have been established, request an estimate from one or two firms. Define the objective, operation, paints, and shift. The industrial hygiene firm may or may not want to visit your plant before submitting the estimate.

Specify all of your company’s criteria and conditions in completing the work. Let the firm(s) know up front what the expectations and schedule are.

Review Estimate

You need to review the estimate first and request revisions if necessary. Once it meets all the requirements, the other players need to review either it or your recommendation. Reach a decision and award the job, then get it done.

So that concludes our recommended procedure to select an industrial hygiene firm to complete your testing. In our next blog in this series, we will discuss what to do with the results.

In the meantime, if you need any help, Environmental Safety Consultants (www.escflorida.com) is here.  We are a Florida licensed environmental engineering company with a CIH on staff.  We have the credentials and experience to help you complete your industrial hygiene project.

We are just a telephone call (800-226-1735) or an e-mail away (escinc@verizon.net).  Contact us today!

Industrial Hygiene Testing Details

Industrial Hygiene Blogs So Far

This is the seventh in a series of blogs on industrial hygiene (IH).  The first one explained that industrial hygiene was the recognition, evaluation, and control of hazards in the workplace.  The second blog defined a hazard as a source of danger or an agent which has the potential to cause harm to a vulnerable target.  Sources of hazards were identified in manufacturing, construction, maritime, office, and other workplaces.  Different types of resources were identified such as guidelines provided by the U.S. Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA, www.osha.gov) and the National Institute of Occupational Safety & Health (NIOSH, www.cdc.gov/niosh).

The third blog focused on the recognition or identification of hazards.  The fourth one walked you through an example of hazard recognition for a specific operation.  The fifth blog provided an overview of the evaluation of industrial hygiene hazards.  Then the sixth blog presented an overview of industrial hygiene testing as one method to complete the evaluation of potential industrial hygiene hazards.  Finally, this current blog will cover the design of industrial hygiene testing.

Industrial Hygiene Testing Objective

Industrial Hygiene Testing DetailsThe specific industrial hygiene testing depends on the source of the hazard and the operation.  In general, the first step is to define the objective of the testing.  For example, the objective may be to determine if there is an oxygen deficient atmosphere in a chemical vat during a cleanout operation.  Details are needed on the operation to establish the testing approach.  For the vat example, the operation may involve two maintenance employees who clean out the vat during a four hour period once a week.  The vat is emptied  and dried out on Friday.  On Monday, the two employees are lowered down into the vat after donning personal protective equipment.  They use absorbent cleaning towels and an innocuous cleaner.  The next step is to determine how the objective will be met.

Industrial Hygiene Testing Details

The objective will be met by selecting the right procedure and executing it.  To flesh out the details, start by answering  the what, who, when, how, and where questions.  What testing method will best meet the objective?  Who should complete the testing?  How long will the testing last?  What is the time table for getting the results?  When will a verbal report be provided?  What will be the specific content of the written report?  When will the written report be provided?  If the testing confirms there is a hazard, will corrective action be recommended?

Finally, identify any special requirements of your company in having the testing performed.  For example, are photographs of the testing required?  What about written descriptions of the tasks which the employees perform during testing?  Make no assumptions as to what will be included in the testing or report.  It is better to review it up front, rather than to be disappointed in the end.

So that concludes our overview of industrial hygiene testing.  In our next blog in this series, we will discuss how to select an industrial hygiene firm to do the testing.  That process often includes multiple players and departments at your company.

In the meantime, if you need any help, Environmental Safety Consultants (www.escflorida.com) is here.  We are a Florida licensed environmental engineering company with a CIH on staff.  We have the credentials and experience to help you complete your industrial hygiene project.

We are just a telephone call (800-226-1735) or an e-mail away (escinc@verizon.net).  Contact us today!

Industrial Hygiene Testing Overview

Industrial Hygiene Articles So Far

This is the sixth in a series of blogs on industrial hygiene (IH).  The first one explained that industrial hygiene was the recognition, evaluation, and control of hazards in the workplace.  The second blog defined a hazard as a source of danger or an agent which has the potential to cause harm to a vulnerable target.  Sources of hazards were identified in manufacturing, construction, maritime, office, and other workplaces.  Different types of resources were identified such as guidelines provided by the U.S. Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA, www.osha.gov) and the National Institute of Occupational Safety & Health (NIOSH, www.cdc.gov/niosh).

The third blog focused on the recognition or identification of hazards.  The fourth one walked you through an example of hazard recognition for a specific operation.  The fifth blog provided an overview of the evaluation of industrial hygiene hazards.  And finally, this blog will round out the series with an industrial hygiene testing overview as one method to complete the evaluation of potential industrial hygiene hazards.

Testing Methods

The testing method selection depends on the type of hazard.  So you may have an inhalation hazard due to the presence of one or more of the following:

industrial hygiene testing overview

  • Chemicals
  • Particulates
  • Oxygen Deficiency
  • Toxic Gases
  • Biological Organisms

Or, you may have a noise hazard.  Alternatively, you may have a heat stress hazard.  Finally, you may have a radiation, biological, or any of several other hazards.  It should be obvious that different testing methods are used for different types of hazards.

So testing methods are varied.  For airborne hazards, there are sampling pumps and collection media analyzed in a lab.  There are also badges that can be worn for certain time periods which are then analyzed in a lab for volatile organic compounds, radiation, or other constituents.  Electronic meters are available to instantaneously measure certain chemicals, particulates, toxic or explosive gases, noise, radiation, or other parameters.  These devices may also measure the oxygen concentration in the air to determine if it is deficient.  Air samples can also be collected and analyzed in a lab for bacteria or mold.

Those are just some of the testing methods.  And again, they are selected based on the potential hazard and the operation.  The actual selection is part of testing design which is covered in our next blog.

So that concludes our overview of industrial hygiene testing.  In the meantime, if you need any help, Environmental Safety Consultants (www.escflorida.com) is here.  We are a Florida licensed environmental engineering company with a CIH on staff.  We have the credentials and experience to help you complete your industrial hygiene project.

We are just a telephone call (800-226-1735) or an e-mail away (escinc@verizon.net).  Contact us today!

 

Evaluation – Industrial Hygiene Hazards

Industrial Hygiene Blogs So Far

This is the fifth in a series of blogs on industrial hygiene (IH).  The first one explained that industrial hygiene was the recognition, evaluation, and control of hazards in the workplace.  The second blog defined a hazard as a source of danger or an agent which has the potential to cause harm to a vulnerable target.  Sources of hazards were identified in manufacturing, construction, maritime, office, and other workplaces.  Different types of resources were identified such as guidelines provided by the U.S. Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA, www.osha.gov) and the National Institute of Occupational Safety & Health (NIOSH, www.cdc.gov/niosh).  The third blog focused on the recognition or identification of hazards.  The fourth one walked you through an example of hazard recognition for a specific operation.  And this blog will provide an overview of the evaluation of industrial hygiene hazards.

Types of Evaluation

So you have identified the potential hazards through the recognition process and now you are ready to evaluate the hazards.  There are a few ways that this can be done.

One is to estimate what the air concentrations of the chemical or dust of concern are from analyzing the operation or manufacturing method.  For example, certain assumptions are made as to how much of a paint or substance ends up on the part and then estimate how much ends up in the air.  You would have to use the Safety Data Sheet and Technical Data Sheet to determine the concentration of the hazardous chemical in the product being used or applied.  You have to determine how much goes off as a vapor for things like paint to estimate volatile organic compounds (VOCs, such as solvents) and how much overspray there is to account for particulates.

Hygiene HazardsAnother option for an operation that is established and being used is to monitor the complaints or adverse health conditions.  Then those are compared to potential health impairments identified on the Safety Data Sheet.  This may actually tell you what the constituent of most concern is.  Take note that we are not recommending this approach since it can put workers at unacceptable risk.  However, we have had enough years in the field that tell us processes are often established and used regularly without the proper evaluation.

Another approach is control banding.  This groups chemicals according to similar characteristics, which may be physical or chemical.  Then, based on these characteristics, you decide how the chemical will be used and what the anticipated exposure hazards will be.  Appropriate work methods and controls are selected to eliminate or at least minimize the workers’ exposures.

Finally, there is industrial hygiene testing.  When properly completed, this is the best method to conclusively decide if there is truly a potential exposure to the workers.

So that concludes our overview of hazard evaluation in industrial hygiene.  In our next blog in this series, we will discuss specific evaluation of potential industrial hygiene hazards.  That process often includes industrial hygiene testing.

ESC - Hygiene HazardsIn the meantime, if you need any help, Environmental Safety Consultants (www.escflorida.com) is here.  We are a Florida licensed environmental engineering company with a CIH on staff.  We have the credentials and experience to help you complete your industrial hygiene project.  We have a proven track record with a Florida licensed environmental engineer and mold assessors, plus degreed environmental scientists on staff.  We specialize in industrial hygiene, indoor air quality, asbestos, lead paint, silica, noise, and more.

We are just a telephone call (800-226-1735) or an e-mail away (escinc@verizon.net).  Contact us today!

Hazard Recognition in Industrial Hygiene

Industrial Hygiene Recap

This is the third in a series of blogs on industrial hygiene.  The first one explained that industrial hygiene was the recognition, evaluation, and control of hazards in the workplace.  The second blog defined a hazard as a source of danger or an agent which has the potential to cause to harm to a vulnerable target.  Sources of hazards were identified in manufacturing, construction, maritime, office, and other workplaces.  The current blog will focus on the recognition of hazards.

What is Hazard Recognition?

hazard recognitionThe application of the term recognition in the industrial hygiene field is the identification of a hazard.  It may be one that is obvious and you are familiar with or it may be hidden and unknown to you.  An example of a known obvious hazard would be a dust cloud surrounding a worker dry sawing concrete.  Most people would recognize the dust as being a potential respiratory hazard and many would take it a step further and recognize that the silica most likely in the dust can cause silicosis.  On the other hand, a hidden hazard may be an oxygen deficient atmosphere in a confined space.  You cannot see the oxygen deficiency and you may not be aware that it is a potential hazard.  However, the atmosphere could result in asphyxiation and death.

How Do You Recognize Hazards?

First, review the task or operation.  Analyze each step from start to finish.  Begin with the materials, equipment, and procedures.  Review available information and data on Safety Data Sheets, Technical Data Sheets, hazardous materials guides and handbooks, and peer reviewed published literature.  Of particular assistance are the guidelines issued by the U.S. Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA, www.osha.gov) and the National Institute of Occupational Safety & Health (NIOSH, www.cdc.gov/niosh).  You should also discuss the operation with peers, cohorts, agency personnel, laboratory directors, and others.  Identify regulatory and industry limits for chemicals and dust in the air.  Break the task or operation down into sequential steps (i.e., like a manufacturing method).  Identify the hazards associated with each step and determine which ones are most important in terms of the likelihood of their occurrence and the severity of their hazards.

What Does All That Mean?

Well, a picture (aka an illustration) is worth a thousand words.  So, you need an example.  And that will be the subject of our next industrial hygiene blog.

esc Hazard RecognitionSo that is what hazard recognition in industrial hygiene is.  In our next blog in this series, we will walk you through an example of identifying the potential hazards in an actual industrial operation.  After that, we will delve into evaluating the hazards.  That process often includes industrial hygiene testing.  In the meantime, if you need any help, Environmental Safety Consultants (www.escflorida.com) is here.  We are a Florida licensed environmental engineering company with a CIH on staff.  We have the credentials and experience to help you complete your industrial hygiene project.  We have a proven track record with a Florida licensed environmental engineer and mold assessors, plus degreed environmental scientists on staff.  We specialize in industrial hygiene, indoor air quality, asbestos, lead paint, silica, noise, and more.  We are just a telephone call (800-226-1735) or an e-mail away (escinc@verizon.net).  Contact us today!

What is Lead?

Environmental Safety Consultants (ESC) has been in the lead field for twenty years which is nothing compared to the 8,000 plus years of lead use by mankind.  So what is lead?  It is a natural element mined from the earth and is malleable, blue, and a heavy metal.  Malleable means that it is pliable or able to be hammered or pressed permanently out of shape without breaking or cracking.  Any fisherman who has pressed small lead weights on a fishing line, knows how easy the weights are to open and close on the line.  Lead was historically discovered as a byproduct when silver was being smelted.

Lead has been mined, smelted, and used to make products for thousands of years.  Some of the first products were artifacts and money.  The reported oldest artifact discovered was an Egyptian statue which was made 8,000 to 9,000 years ago.  It was also used to make rods and money used in the Middle East.  The Roman Empire used lead for its aqueducts and pipes which distributed potable water to the citizens.  Other uses have been in solder used on potable water pipes, X-ray shields in walls and aprons, collectible figurines, printing presses, shotgun pellets, glazing on pottery, and on an on.

what is leadThe use of lead greatly increased over time, especially after the industrial age began in the 1800’s.  It was a versatile element with unique physical and chemical properties.  Its uses appeared endless.  It is soft and easily worked.  It was rolled into sheets and pipes and was combined with other metals.  It was used in the construction industry for roofing, paints, flashing, electrical conduit, and pipes conveying drinking water and sewer.  And do not forget it was used in gasoline supposedly for anti-knock in automotive engines, although with its introduction, cars no longer lasted a lifetime!  From all of these uses, tons of lead were released to the environment.  Fortunately, it was banned from gasoline in the 1970’s, which eliminated a big portion of the environmental load.

Along with the many uses of lead, production greatly increased over time.  As this occurred, certain exposures were found to affect human health.  This occurred both in workers producing the lead and related products and in consumers who were using or were around lead products.  As this became known, agencies began addressing the hazards.  That included the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the U.S. Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA), and the U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development (HUD).  But that is a subject of another blog.  Stay tuned!

So there is an overview of lead.  If you need any more information, Environmental Safety Consultants (www.escflorida.com) can assist.  We have the credentials and experience to answer your questions and steer you in the right direction.  We are a Florida-licensed Engineering business and are licensed by the U.S. EPA in Lead Based Paint Inspections and Risk Assessments.  ESC also has a Certified Industrial Hygienist (CIH, Board for EHS Credentialing, www.EHSCredentialing.org formerly American Board of Industrial Hygiene, www.abih.org) which is critical for lead work.

We are just a telephone call (800-226-1735) or an e-mail away (escinc@verizon.net).  Contact us today!

 

The Importance of Industrial Hygiene Testing

hygiene testingIndustrial hygiene testing is a hot topic as of late. You would have to be an ostrich with your head in the sand if you haven’t heard about silica on the job lately. Why all the hype? Well, there has been a lot of concern and posturing over the last few years. OSHA finally drew the line in the sand (no pun intended!) and lowered the 8 hour time weighted average (TWA) permissible exposure limit (PEL) to 50 micrograms per cubic meter (μg/m3). Employers had a lead time of a year or two to get into compliance, but many are in the throws of determining if they have a problem and, if so, of resolving it. The new limit applies to manufacturers, construction, maritime, and general industry employers. More information is available on OSHA’s FAQ Sheet.

So, just what is silica and why the big concern? Crystalline silica is a naturally occurring mineral of which the most common form is quartz. Other forms are critobalite and tridymite. It is a basic component of soil, sand, granite, and many other minerals. Workers are exposed to crystalline silica when they grind, cut, drill, buff, or otherwise disturb the material that contains the silica. It may become airborne and they can breathe it in. From there, silicosis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), kidney disease, or lung cancer can occur, 10 to 30 years later, and these are chronic effects. There are also health effects which can occur within a few weeks. These acute effects may include fever and sharp chest pain along with breathing difficulty. More information is available from the American Lung Association.

The first step is to find out if your workers have an exposure problem. Industrial hygiene testing, specifically air testing will have to be done for the different tasks or operations. The firm doing the testing should have a Certified Industrial Hygienist (CIH, American Board of Industrial Hygiene). That way the testing will be done properly and will be court defensible. Environmental Safety Consultants fits that bill and has been doing a lot of silica testing over the years, and especially over the last two years. Once the testing is done, you will know if you have a problem and, if so, can determine how to fix the problem.

While you are at it, you should consider other exposures which may affect the health of your workers. These exposures are also industrial hygiene issues. They include noise, chemicals, fumes, heat, radiation, and other particulates. These can result from painting, plating, welding, soldering, abrasive blasting, cutting, grinding, buffing, and other industrial and construction operations. While it may seem overwhelming, ESC can help you work through it. Remember that your workers are your biggest asset and it will pay you back in more ways than one!

Environmental Safety Consultants is licensed, accredited, and certified to provide industrial hygiene testing with a staff that has over 100 years of combined experience! Give us a call at (941) 795-2399 or (727) 538-4154 or send us a quick message for a speedy response on any industrial hygiene questions you might have today.

How Often Should Industrial Hygiene Testing Be Done?

There is no OSHA regulation stating how often general industrial hygiene testing should be done.  However, it should be done every one to two years, depending on what chemicals or particulates are being generated.  Most of the larger manufacturers follow this schedule so recent data are always available.  Many clients of Environmental Safety Consultants have different areas tested each year, so that all areas are tested at least every two years.  If manufacturing methods change, then the testing must be done at that time.  Those method changes include the chemicals, stock materials, or procedures.  Regulations can change, as well, lowering the permissible limits, which may warrant retesting if the most recent results were below the old limit but above the new one.  Of course, noise is usually tested in the plant annually and the audiometric testing for the workers must be done annually.

If you need any more information about industrial hygiene testing, Environmental Safety Consultants (www.escflorida.com) can assist.

Industrial Hygiene Testing

We have the credentials and experience to answer your questions and steer you in the right direction.  We are a Florida-licensed Engineering business and are licensed by the U.S. EPA in Lead Based Paint Inspections and Risk Assessments.  ESC also has a Certified Industrial Hygienist (CIH, Board for EHS Credentialing, www.EHSCredentialing.org formerly American Board of Industrial Hygiene, www.abih.org) which is critical for lead work.

We are just a telephone call (800-226-1735) or an e-mail away (escinc@verizon.net).  Contact us today!