OSHA Posts Initial IH Sampling Results from Sandy Cleanup Areas

Published January 16, 2013

Employee exposures to hazards such as carbon monoxide, asbestos, silica, and noise during cleanup operations following Hurricane Sandy have not yet exceeded any of OSHA’s permissible exposure limits (PELs), the agency reported following its first round of industrial hygiene sampling. As part of OSHA’s Hurricane Sandy response, the agency sent out “seasoned” industrial hygienists to perform screening and sampling of response activities and to monitor worker exposure to hazards. According to OSHA, worker exposures are being evaluated using direct-read instruments where possible. IHs are also conducting full-shift sampling in the breathing zone of workers elsewhere in hurricane-affected areas; the results are reported as actual time-weighted averages and are not adjusted for an eight-hour work shift. Initial sampling results are posted on OSHA’s website.

OSHA’s IHs are also searching for any additional contamination left behind in structures or in areas where cleanup and recovery activities have been conducted. Also on hand is a specialized team performing site characterization of cleanup areas with flooded structures. Other OSHA staff are conducting field interventions—identifying hazards and removing employees where necessary—to help protect workers. The agency continues to evaluate potential hazards in work areas, employees’ personal protective equipment, and training provided for workers. According to OSHA’s press release, IH monitoring in Sandy-affected areas will continue on a rotating basis at locations where recovery work is still being performed.

For more information related to worker health and safety during Hurricane Sandy cleanup and recovery, visit OSHA’s website. AIHA® has also compiled a list of resources for OEHS professionals following the hurricane.