When it comes to keeping employees who work with engineered nanomaterials safe, a federal survey reveals that 33% of the 45 companies polled monitored the workplace environment for exposure.
The report from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) shows that 89% of those companies had special cabinets that prevented contaminants from reaching a workspace and only 68% required the cabinets for working with nanomaterials.
Engineered nanomaterials are tiny, artificially produced materials used in electronics, medicines and clothing. However, their potential health effects are still being explored.
Do workers follow recommendations on safe handling?
NIOSH established its Nanotechnology Research Center in 2004 and has led nationwide research efforts related to the safe use of engineered nanomaterials in the workplace. Part of that effort involves providing written health and safety recommendations to workers who handle engineered nanomaterials.
This study aimed to understand whether workers follow these recommendations. To that end, researchers worked with RTI International to administer an online survey about workplace safety and health practices related to nanomaterials. Forty-five U.S. and Canadian companies completed the survey between September to December 2019.
Training, PPE widely used
Most companies reported that they provided their employees with safety and health information and training on engineered nanomaterials. They reported widespread use of PPE, specifically gloves and eye and face protection.
They also reported using at least one NIOSH resource on safe handling of engineered nanomaterials.
Information from the research will be used to help NIOSH develop additional outreach materials regarding engineered nanomaterials, especially for small businesses.