Monthly Round Up of Important Ideas and Standards in
Industrial Hygiene and Safety
IN THIS ISSUE: Benefits of Engineering Controls for Hazardous Processes
Often when a hazard presents itself, management responds with the use of personal protective equipment (PPE). Many types of PPE are necessary but it is important to realize that they have limitations. If they are not worn properly, training is insufficient, they are used for the wrong the application, not fit tested, not sanitized and stored properly, not maintained, or re-evaluated when the hazard changes, they may not be effective. In addition, there are on-going costs of buying, replacing, and maintaining PPE along with continuing training, compliance, and employee discomfort.
The best solution is to eliminate the hazard by changing to a non-hazardous process. If not feasible, add engineering controls to keep the operator away from the process.
According to NIOSH, “Engineering controls protect workers by removing hazardous conditions or by placing a barrier between the worker and the hazard. Examples include local exhaust ventilation to capture and remove airborne emissions or machine guards to shield the worker. Well-designed engineering controls can be highly effective in protecting workers and will typically be independent of worker interactions. They typically do not interfere with worker productivity or personal comfort and make the work easier to perform rather than more difficult. The initial cost of engineering controls can be higher than some other control methods, but over the longer term, operating costs are frequently lower, and in some instances, can provide a cost savings in other areas of the process”.
There are a number of resources available for designing effective engineering controls:
- Industrial Ventilation: A Manual of Recommended Practice for Design by the American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists is the resource used by industrial hygienists.
- NIOSH Engineering Controls Data Base, which includes engineering and physical hazards reports.
- NIOSH Prevention Through Design Program whose mission is “to prevent or reduce occupational injuries, illnesses, and fatalities through the inclusion of prevention considerations in all designs that impact workers”.
- The Noise Manual Fifth Edition published by the American Industrial Hygiene Association
There are many engineering companies that can help design hazard controls. Check with an industrial hygienist who can recommend an engineer in your area. When trying to control a hazard using PPE should only be a temporary or partial solution. Using the Hierarchy of Controls is the best, and in the long run, the most effective way to remediate a hazard
OccuSafe Industrial Hygiene & Safety, Inc. provides skills and expertise to recognize, evaluate and control hazards and injuries in the areas of industrial hygiene, occupational safety and health. OccuSafe services companies of all sizes in a range of industries.
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