OSHA Announces National Emphasis Program for Isocyanate Exposure
Updated: Aug 29
A new National Emphasis Program (NEP) was announced by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) in June. The program is focused on protecting workers from serious health effects that may occur from exposure to isocyanates. According to OSHA, National Emphasis Programs are developed to “focus outreach efforts and inspections on specific hazards in an industry for a three-year period”.
This specific NEP will focus on the general, construction and maritime industries that use isocyanate compounds. The purpose of the NEP is to reduce occupational illnesses associated with exposure to isocyanates.
Isocyanates are used in a number of materials including paints, varnishes, auto body repair, and building insulation. OSHA states that “Isocyanates are chemicals that can cause occupational asthma, irritation of the skin, eyes, nose and throat, and cancer. Deaths have occurred due to both asthma and hypersensitivity pneumonitis from isocyanates exposure. Respiratory illnesses also can be caused by isocyanates exposure to the skin”.
“Workers exposed to isocyanates can suffer debilitating health problems for months or even years after exposure,” said Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health Dr. David Michaels. “Through this program, OSHA will strengthen protections for workers exposed to isocyanates.”
A major part of the NEP includes inspections of existing facilities that have a high risk for isocyanate exposure. To find more information on the facilities that may be inspected and what these inspections may entail, click here.
To find out more about isocyanates and potential exposure and related health effects, click here.