OSHA, MSHA Warn Workers of Diesel Exhaust Exposures
Short-term exposure to diesel exhaust can cause headache, dizziness, and eye, nose, and throat irritation, while long-term exposure can increase the risk of cardiovascular, cardiopulmonary, and respiratory disease and lung cancer, OSHA and MSHA warn in a hazard alert released this month. Industries in which workers are at risk for diesel exhaust exposures include mining, construction, transportation, agriculture, manufacturing, and maritime operations. The hazard alert includes information on diesel exhaust and diesel particulate matter (DPM), on the health effects following exposure, and on the standards in place for diesel exhaust and DPM. Examples of engineering and administrative controls to help mitigate exposures are also included.
MSHA enforces DPM standards at underground metal/nonmetal mines and at underground coal mines, and OSHA covers workers in general industry, agriculture, construction, and maritime industries. According to MSHA, a miner’s exposure to DPM must not exceed 160 µg/m3 of total carbon when measured as an eight-hour time-weighted average. OSHA currently does not have a permissible exposure limit (PEL) for DPM, but the publication lists PELs for components of diesel exhaust, such as carbon monoxide, nitric oxide, and nitrogen dioxide. Monitoring for these gases can indicate that diesel exhaust is present and help evaluate the effectiveness of controls put in place to minimize exposures to diesel exhaust.
Back in June, the International Agency for Research on Cancer classified diesel engine exhaust as carcinogenic to humans.
For more information, view the hazard alert on OSHA’s website.