Safety Corner: Exposure Assessments
Safety Corner: Exposure Assessments
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Safety Corner: Exposure Assessments
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Maintaining a healthy workforce is a priority for every employer, including providing a safe work environment that doesn't expose employees to unnecessary health risks.

Maintaining a healthy workforce is a priority for every employer, including providing a safe work environment that doesn't expose employees to unnecessary health risks.

Exposure assessments can manage those health risks and reduce the incidence of issues from exposure within the workplace. The process identifies areas of concern, evaluates the potential for and magnitude of exposure, and recommends options for remediation.

Industrial hygienists at Burns & McDonnell follow the American Industrial Hygiene Association (AIHA) strategy for exposure assessments. "One of the key points of the AIHA process is that business owners need to know with certainty whether their employees are overexposed to chemical or physical hazards," says Eric Wenger, an associate industrial hygienist at Burns & McDonnell. Exposure assessments evaluate airborne chemicals and harmful dust, noise hazards, heat stress, and other harmful conditions.

The process begins with a qualitative assessment during which an industrial hygienist gathers information and observes each process and task. Potential hazards are classified as acceptable, unacceptable or uncertain. Screening data may be collected using real-time monitoring instruments.

Based on assessment data, owners may elect to proceed with immediate corrections of unacceptable exposures or opt for additional sampling of uncertain exposures. This initial prioritization helps owners use limited resources to comply with exposure limits.

"Through this process, for example, we can pinpoint where a chemical is being generated and focus on specific areas that need to be addressed," Wenger says. "It could mean the difference between replacing an entire local exhaust control system and merely implementing administrative controls."

To streamline the assessment process, Burns & McDonnell's industrial hygienists use Medgate, a program that provides access to sampling information in a single database.

For more information, contact Eric Wenger, 816-822-3894.

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