OSHA announced the new National Emphasis Program (NEP) for occupational exposure to isocyanates in June, 2013, outlining a three-year plan to focus outreach efforts and inspections on isocyanate hazards in an effort to reduce occupational related illness, injury, and death. Each OSHA Area Office has been instructed to conduct three inspections per year over the three year period in accordance with the NEP.
Employee exposure to isocyanates can result in health effects ranging from irritation of the skin, eyes, nose, and throat to occupational asthma and cancer. Exposure can originate from a variety of sources, including pesticides, and the manufacturing of polyurethane foam, paints, coatings, elastomers, insulation materials, furniture, and adhesives. Employers are expected to implement engineering controls as a primary means to limit exposure. Personal protective equipment, including respiratory protection and gloves, are to be used to supplement engineering controls when engineering controls alone are not sufficient.
In accordance with the NEP, Colden Corporation provides consulting services to determine isocyanate exposure and solutions to protect employees against exposure.
James E. Johnston, MS, CIH
Senior Industrial Hygienist