DuraLabel's Weekly Safety News

Blog Author Angelique Sanders

Weekly safety news. Stay in touch with regulations from OSHA, NFPA, and other safety codes. Find out about other companies' best and worst practices. We scour the internet to provide you with helpful training resources and the latest safety information.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

National Emphasis Program for Occupational Exposure to Isocyanates

Photo by Chicago Spray Foam
OSHA has announced a new National Emphasis Program to protect workers from the serious health effects from occupational exposure to isocyanates.

Isocyanates are used to produce polyurethane polymers. These polymers are components of materials such as polyurethane foams, thermoplastic elastomers, spandex fibers, and polyurethane paints.  Jobs that may involve exposure to isocyanates include:
  • painting and applying varnishes
  • auto body repair
  • foam-blowing (including foam building insulation)
  • the manufacture of many polyurethane products such as:
    • polyurethane foam
    • insulation materials
    • surface coatings (protective coatings for decks, truck beds and boats)
    • car seats
    • furniture
    • foam mattresses
    • under-carpet padding
    • packaging materials
    • shoes
    • laminated fabrics
    • polyurethane rubber
    • chemicals and adhesives
In addition, exposure to isocyanates can result from the thermal degradation of polyurethane products such as those listed above.

Isocyanates can cause occupational asthma, irritation of the skin, eyes, nose and throat, and cancer. Deaths have occurred due to both asthma and hypersensitivity pneumonitis from isocyanates exposure. Respiratory illnesses also can be caused by isocyanates exposure to the skin.

"Workers exposed to isocyanates can suffer debilitating health problems for months or even years after exposure," said Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health Dr. David Michaels.

OSHA develops national emphasis programs to focus outreach efforts and inspections on specific hazards in an industry for a three-year period. Through this NEP, OSHA will focus on workplaces in general, construction and maritime industries that use isocyanate compounds in an effort to reduce occupational illnesses and deaths.

OSHA's Web page on isocyanates provides additional information on recognizing potential hazards, as well as OSHA standards that address isocyanates in the general, construction and maritime industries.

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posted by Steve Hudgik
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