Worker Exposure and the Hazards of Abrasive Blasting Materials
The American Board of Industrial Hygiene (ABIH) reminds workers and industry of the need to protect people from the hazards of abrasive blasting.
Organizations are encouraged to utilize CIHs in order to better quantify and manage their risks involving abrasive blasting activities.
Late last year, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) published a Fact Sheet entitled, “Protecting Workers from the Hazards of Abrasive Blasting Materials.” The four page document discusses the need for employers to protect workers from hazardous dust levels, toxic metals and the high levels of noise associated with abrasive blasting.
Abrasive blasting uses compressed air or water to direct a high velocity stream of an abrasive material to clean an object or surface, remove burrs, apply a texture or prepare a surface for the application of paint or other type of coating. Depending on the type of abrasive blasting taking place, there are a number of potential hazards for workers. The type of abrasive material, the surface being worked upon and the working environment can all create unique conditions.
High noise levels can cause hearing loss if the proper hearing protection is not utilized and many of the abrasive blasting materials commonly used, and the surfaces being treated, can create dust that contains respirable hazards and toxic materials. For example, the use of crystalline silica can result in silicosis if workers are exposed and some types of slag can contain trace amounts of toxic metals. Lead is another significant area of concern as abrasive blasting is often used on surfaces that contain lead-based paints. Not only can workers directly involved with abrasive blasting be at risk, but those in the area and even the general public could have their health compromised.
“Abrasive blasting can be hazardous to a worker’s health if the proper personal protective equipment, engineering controls and employee training are not in place,” said Tracy Parsons, CIH, Administrative Program Manager at ABIH. “Certified Industrial Hygienists are trained and experienced in everything from hearing loss prevention, air sampling, chemical hazards, engineering controls, work environments and risk analysis to minimize potential health impacts. Organizations are encouraged to utilize CIHs in order to better quantify and manage their risks involving abrasive blasting activities.”
To learn more about the American Board of Industrial Hygiene or the CIH program, please email abih@ABIH.org , visit www.ABIH.org or call (517) 321-2638.
About the American Board of Industrial Hygiene
Since 1960, ABIH, a not-for-profit corporation, has been the world’s largest, premier organization for certifying professionals in the practice of industrial hygiene. ABIH is responsible for ensuring high-quality certification including education, experience, examination, certification maintenance and ethics enforcement. Currently, more than 6700 people are certified to use the CIH designation.
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