Steel, aluminum and other metals producers, take note: The Occupational Safety and Health Administration is watching you.
OSHA has issued a new directive establishing a National Emphasis Program for the Primary Metals Industries, designed to target worker exposures to chemical and physical hazards in these establishments.
The new OSHA program joins similar ones aimed at reducing worker exposures to Hexavalent Chromium, Lead and Crystalline Silica.
Serious Exposures Alleged
Affected establishments are those involved in extracting and refining metals from rocks containing iron, lead, nickel and tin, among other elements. These include manufacturers of steel piping, nails, insulated wires and cables, copper and aluminum products.
|The new program will heighten federal scrutiny of the primary metals industries, including steel producers.|
The NEP establishment list covers the NAICS codes for:
· Steel Works, Blast Furnaces (including Coke Ovens) and Rolling Mills;
· Electrometallurgical Products Except Steel;
· Cold-Rolled Steel Sheet, Strip and Bars;
· Steel Pipe and Tubes;
· Foundries for Aluminum, Malleable Iron, Steel, Nonferrous, and Gray and Ductile Iron;
· Primary and Secondary Smelting and Refining of Nonferrous Metals, including Copper and Aluminum;
· Rolling, Drawing and Extruding of Copper; and
· Aluminum Extruded Products.
OSHAsays these industries became a concern during its review of data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics' Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries.
Previous OSHA inspections revealed that workers in this industry were exposed to noise and heat hazards, as well as metal dusts and fumes, carbon monoxide, lead and silica, among other substances.
Such exposures can cause damage to the eyes, nose, throat and skin; difficulty breathing; and chest and joint pain. Overexposures can be fatal.
“OSHA developed this program because of the seriousness and frequency of these problems,” the agency said.
The NEP aims to minimize or eliminate hazardous exposures through inspections and follow-up visits.
“Workers who are not properly protected from the hazards of metals refining are at increased risk of serious, potentially deadly health effects,” said Dr. David Michaels, Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health.
“OSHA's new enforcement program will raise awareness of the dangers of exposure to metals and other chemicals, so that employers can correct hazards and comply with OSHA standards.”