Special Emphasis ProgramsYou can help prevent the most common accidents in the workplace.
Any combustible material can burn rapidly when in a finely divided form. If such a dust is suspended in air in the right concentration, under certain conditions, it can become explosive. Even materials that do not burn in larger pieces (such as aluminum or iron), given the proper conditions, can be explosible in dust form.
Hexavalent chromium [Cr(VI)] is one of the valence states (+6) of the element chromium. It is usually produced by an industrial process. Cr(VI) is known to cause cancer. In addition, it targets the respiratory system, kidneys, liver, skin and eyes. A major source of worker exposure to Cr(VI) occurs during "hot work" such as welding on stainless steel and other alloy steels containing chromium metal. Cr(VI) compounds may be used as pigments in dyes, paints, inks, and plastics. It also may be used as an anticorrosive agent added to paints, primers, and other surface coatings. The Cr(VI) compound chromic acid is used to electroplate chromium onto metal parts to provide a decorative or protective coating.
Lead enters the body primarily through inhalation and ingestion. People are mainly exposed to lead by breathing in lead-containing dust and fumes at work, or from hobbies that involve lead. Lead passes through the lungs into the blood where it can harm many of the body's organ systems. While inorganic lead does not readily enter the body through the skin, it can enter the body through accidental ingestion (eating, drinking, and smoking) via contaminated hands, clothing, and surfaces. Workers may develop a variety of ailments, such as neurological effects, gastrointestinal effects, anemia, and kidney disease.
Cave-ins pose the greatest risk and are much more likely than other excavation-related accidents to result in worker fatalities. Other potential hazards include falls, falling loads, hazardous atmospheres, and incidents involving mobile equipment. One cubic yard of soil can weigh as much as a car. An unprotected trench is an early grave.
Carbon monoxide (CO) is a poisonous, colorless, odorless, and tasteless gas. Although it has no detectable odor, CO is often mixed with other gases that do have an odor. For instance, you can inhale carbon monoxide right along with gases that you can smell and not even know that CO is present.
Falls are among the most common causes of serious work-related injuries and deaths. Employers must set up the workplace to prevent employees from falling off of overhead platforms, elevated work stations or into holes in the floor and walls.
Exposure to high levels of noise can cause permanent hearing loss. Neither surgery nor a hearing aid can help correct this type of hearing loss. Short term exposure to loud noise can also cause a temporary change in hearing (your ears may feel stuffed up) or a ringing in your ears (tinnitus). Noise-induced hearing loss limits your ability to hear high frequency sounds, understand speech, and seriously impairs your ability to communicate.
Crystalline silica is a common mineral that is found in construction materials such as sand, stone, concrete, brick, and mortar.
Respirable crystalline silica is created when cutting, sawing, grinding, drilling, and crushing stone, rock, concrete, brick, block, and mortar.
Workers who inhale these very small crystalline silica particles are at increased risk of developing serious silica-related diseases, including:
- Silicosis, an incurable lung disease that can lead to disability and death;
- Lung cancer;
- Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD); and
- Kidney disease.