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April 6, 2016

NIOSH Publishes Nanotechnology Safety Program Guide for SMEs

Lynn L. Bergeson Carla N. Hutton

On April 4, 2016, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) published a report entitled Building a Safety Program to Protect the Nanotechnology Workforce: A Guide for Small to Medium-Sized Enterprises. The report states that employees may be at risk of exposure by inhalation, skin absorption, or ingestion. According to the report, several factors can affect their potential for exposure, including:

  • The route, concentration, duration, and frequency of any exposure;
  • The ability of the nanomaterial to be easily dispersed (such as a dust or aerosol); and
  • The control measures in place to reduce or limit exposures.

The report states that the best way to control potential exposures and to protect workers includes creating and following a risk management plan that incorporates the hierarchy of controls: elimination, substitution, engineering controls, administrative controls, and personal protective equipment. The report lists the following elements that are “the keys to a successful health and safety program”:

  • Leadership by top management;
  • Inclusion of employees;
  • Establishment of a Safety Committee;
  • Creation of a written risk-management plan that includes;
    • Identification of potential hazards;
    • Identification of exposure potential;
    • Establishment of controls following the hierarchy of controls;
    • Verification of controls;
    • Preparation for emergencies; and
    • Regulatory compliance;
  • Continued evaluation of the safety program:
    • Plan, Do, Check, Act.