Nanotechnology: Health and Safety Awareness Training for Employees

All employees working with engineered nanomaterials should receive training on the associated hazards and risks.  The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) Hazard Communication Standard, 29 CFR 1910.1200, requires that, at a minimum, training should address the means to detect the chemicals in their workplace, the hazards associated with those chemicals, and procedures to prevent exposure (OSHA 1994).

Elements of comprehensive nanomaterials awareness training should include:

  • Types of tasks that may involve exposure to nanomaterials
  • Potential health hazards
  • Awareness and effective use of appropriate controls and work practices
    • Engineering controls (i.e. local exhaust ventilation, isolator technology)
    • Appropriate nanomaterial handling and storage procedures
    • Proper selection and use of personal protective equipment (PPE)
  • Proper labeling of containers
  • Cleaning procedures for contaminated surfaces or clothing
  • Proper disposal of nanomaterials or surfaces contaminated with nanomaterials
  • Current exposure assessment methods include a combination of;
    • Mass-based active air sampling,
    • Direct-reading particle counting, including both optical particle counting (OPC) and condensation particle counting (CPC) methods,
    • Direct-reading surface area measurements,
    • Microscopic particle characterization using both scanning electron microscopy (SEM) and transmission electron microscopy (TEM).

As the current knowledge associated with nanomaterial exposure continues to expand, employers must diligently seek the most up-to-date information.  Resources for this type of information are readily available using the following resources:

National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH)

American Industrial Hygiene Association (AIHA)



Clint Smith, MS, CIH, CSP, LEED Green Associate