Chemical and physical hazards in the primary metals industries

The US American Occupational Safety and Health Administration issued a new
directive establishing a National Emphasis Program for the Primary Metals
Industries. The purpose of this is to identify and reduce or eliminate worker
exposures to harmful chemical and physical hazards in establishments producing
metal products.

Establishments in the primary metals industries are involved in extracting and
refining metals from rocks containing iron, lead, nickel and tin, among other
elements. Among these establishments are those that manufacture nails,
insulated wires and cables, steel piping, and copper and aluminum products.

The primary metals industries became a concern during OSHA's review of data
from the Bureau of Labor Statistics' Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries.
Previous OSHA inspections of establishments in this industry revealed that
workers were exposed to metal dusts and fumes, carbon monoxide, lead and
silica, among other substances. Inspections also showed that workers were
exposed to noise and heat hazards. OSHA developed this program because of the
seriousness and frequency of these problems.

"Workers who are not properly protected from the hazards of metals refining are
at increased risk of serious, potentially deadly health effects," said
Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health Dr. David
Michaels. "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."

Workers exposed to various substances found in these industries can suffer
damage to the eyes, nose, throat and skin and can experience difficulty
breathing and chest and joint pain. Overexposures can also lead to death. The
goals of the NEP include minimizing or eliminating exposure to chemical hazards
and physical hazards such as noise and heat. Other goals include inspecting
facilities that manufacture primary metals and metal products, and conducting
follow-up site visits to ensure that there has been a reduction or elimination
of exposures.

More info - Source: Occupational Safety and Health Administration