Roughly 32 million workers in the U.S. (over 20%) are exposed to hazardous chemical products, OSHA says.
Dermal exposure (when the skin is directly in contact with hazardous agents) is a very serious threat to many workers. Exposure to such chemicals costs the U.S. over $111,000 annually, according to the American Burn Association. Those costs include hospital bills, disability claims and worker compensation.
As the weather cools down, people will start seeing their breath outside and covering up their faces in the cold. What people may not realize is how important it is to protect their respiratory system from simple things like the cold and other environmental concerns. As a result, they are more lenient on the regulations they choose to follow.
Imagine if you will a petit college intern, performing her dream job of collecting water samples from a Secure Chemical Maintenance Facility in a landfill. We were pulling water samples for Dense Non-Aqueous Phase Liquids, or DNAPL. As is typical for springtime in Western New York the ground was thick with snow, so the work area was covered with a blue tarp to make it easier to work. It was cold that day, grey and blustery with no end to misery inciting weather in sight. Having multiple people on site, there was some frozen precipitation left behind on the tarp which made it slicker than the parking lot. As I was returning to our work area, I slid on the wet tarp and the water sample spilled. In the awkward seconds that followed, I tried to not fall on the test tube, and of course I did which then compromised my suit. The next rush of time found the crew using several shop rags and garbage bags to clean up the area, while I tried to remain calm and cover the breached area with my gloved hand while being led to an area that I could get the suit off in. Luckily I was not working with anything acutely hazardous, but the same practices applied per the training I'd received prior to donning the Level A PPE for this task.