This week we took a deeper dive into the use of hazardous chemicals in the workplace, specifically as they are used to combat the spread of COVID19.  A rush to prevent viral spread has in some cases meant the use of unnecessary and even dangerous products that may harm our health. Today’s panelists discussed the OSHA Hazard Communication Standard revised in 2012, Safety Data Sheets (SDSs) (formerly MSDSs or Material Safety Data Sheets), exposure routes into the body, and safer products and practices when using chemicals in the workplace.

We heard from WEC’s own Cecelia Gilligain Leto, Project Director on hazardous chemicals in the workplace, and on the ways in which thousands of workers are exposed to dangerous chemicals every day. Cecelia spoke on the OSHA HAZCOM standard, New Jersey’s Right to Know standard, and how to interpret and use Safety Data Sheets. 

We also heard from Allen Barkkume, MS, Industrial Hygiene Consultant with WEC on the DEP Advisory on Fogging Misting Systems that use disinfectants and sanitizers as a COVID-19 treatment (not permitted for human exposure), inadequate building ventilation systems, safer chemical selection, and noted that workers should not bring their own chemicals into the workplace. 

We had more than 74 participants this week.

Resources:

DEP Advisory Notice on Fogging MIsting Systems: https://www.nj.gov/dep/enforcement/advisories/2020-15.pdf?utm_medium=email&utm_source=govdelivery

EPA list of safer cleaning products: https://www.epa.gov/saferchoice/products

NJEA Review article on cleaning: njea.org/cleaning-schools-without-making-people-sick-avoiding-toxic-products/

Coalition for Healthy Schools National Call to Action has an appendix on cleaning: https://secureservercdn.net/50.62.198.70/f30.761.myftpupload.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/07/Final-CHS-Call-to-Action-Pandemic-v-Schools-final-7-9-20-.pdf