OSHA Starts NEP on Primary Metals Industry

This new National Emphasis Program aims to protect workers from chemical and physical hazards. Some are exposed to metal dusts and fumes, carbon monoxide, lead, and silica, according to inspection and BLS data.

OSHA has established a new National Emphasis Program for the primary metals industries, targeting workers' exposures to metal dusts and fumes, carbon monoxide, lead, silica, noise and heat hazards, according to the agency's directive, which is dated May 19.

These establishments are involved in extracting and refining metals from rocks containing iron, lead, nickel, and tin, among other elements. Some manufacture nails, insulated wires and cables, steel piping, and copper and aluminum products.

OSHA said this became a concern from its review of data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics' Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries and data from past OSHA inspections. The directive says the NEP was developed "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 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."

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