Occupational Health Professionals Urge Chemical Manufacturers to Protect the Health of their Workers
Katie Heraty, Account Director,
Communications & Marketing, AIHA
July 23, 2020 (Falls Church, VA)-- An estimated 32 million employees in chemical manufacturing facilities are potentially exposed to one or more of the 650,000 chemical hazards, according to the US Department of Labor.1 To reduce health risks, AIHA, an association for occupational health and safety science professionals, announced the availability of free resources to educate chemical manufacturers about the health risks associated with exposure to chemicals. Occupational health professionals (industrial hygienists) work to reduce health risks to workers and organizations, ultimately increasing productivity and improving a company’s bottom line.
Chemical manufacturers who want to protect the health of their workers, who are seeking resources can find help at a new website, https://www.workerhealthsafety.org/chemical-manufacturing. The site includes information about the risks to workers and how employers can reduce those risks. Chemical manufacturers can also be connected with an OHS professional.
“The exposure risks to chemical manufacturing employees are unique. Chemical formulas change frequently, as do the risks and controls applied in the manufacturing of those chemicals,” said Nancy McClellan, MPH, CIH, CHMM from Occupational Health Management, PLLC consultancy and Chair of the University of Michigan School of Public Health External Advisory Board. With the trend of high hazard manufacturing returning to the US, there is an even greater need to develop stronger health and safety risk assessment and control strategies for effective IH program management.”
Chemical exposure may cause or contribute to many serious organ health effects impacting the cardiovascular system, central nervous system, kidneys and lungs, as well as sterility, cancer, burns, and rashes. Some chemicals may also be safety hazards and have the potential to cause fires and explosions and other serious accidents.
“Your employees are your most valuable resource and occupational health and safety professionals play a critical role in assessing risk and keeping them safe,” said Lindsay Cook, CIH, CSP, President of the AIHA Board of Directors. “They identify potential risks – not just the ones that are obvious today, but the ones that can have long-term effects, some of which take 20 years to surface.”
1) Chemical Hazard Communication U.S. Department of Labor Occupational Safety and Health Administration, 1998
AIHA is the association for occupational health and safety science professionals who are committed to preserving and ensuring health and safety in the workplace and community. Founded in 1939, we support our members with our expertise, network, comprehensive education programs, and other products and services that help them maintain the highest professional standards. More than half of AIHA's nearly 8,500 members are Certified Industrial Hygienists, and many hold other professional designations. AIHA serves as a resource for those employed in the industrial, consulting, academic, and government sectors. For information visit: www.aiha.org.
Taking Action and Protection from COVID-19
AIHA has valuable resources for employers including a Guide for Recovering from COVID-19 Building Closures. Most recently in response to the pandemic, AIHA has introduced the “Back to Work Safely” initiative to help employers and employees get back to work safely with industry sector-specific guidelines and resources.
These free guidelines include recommendations on ventilation, personal hygiene, physical distancing, and enhanced cleaning. Guidelines are available for the following industries (with many in Spanish):
- Amateur Sports
- At-Home Service Providers
- Business Services (i.e. banks, dry cleaners, cell phone stores) Warehousing/Transportation
- Childcare Providers
- Construction Sites
- Dental Office Settings
- General Office Settings
- Gyms and Workout Facilities
- Hair and Nail Salons
- Houses of Worship
- Institutions of Higher Education
- Libraries Museums and Collecting Institutions
- Physical and occupational therapy, massage therapy and chiropractic guidelines
- Rideshare, Taxi, Limo and Other Passenger Driver-for-Hire
- Schools (K-12)
- Small Manufacturing and Maintenance Shops
- Small Entertainment Venues (e.g. mini golf and arcades)
- Small Lodging Establishments
- Street Vendors and Farmers Markets