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OSHA announces new program to protect workers who use isocyanates

On June 25, 2013, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) announced a new National Emphasis Program (NEP) to reduce work-related health issues caused by isocyanates in construction, maritime, and general industries. OSHA’s NEPs are three-year initiatives designed to target key hazards in specific industries through focused outreach and inspection.

Isocyanates are raw materials used to make polyurethane products for use in building insulation, automobile body repair, varnishes, adhesives, foams for mattresses and car seats, and paints. Exposure to isocyanates can result in occupational asthma, respiratory illness, cancer, and irritation of the eyes, nose, throat, and skin.

"Workers exposed to isocyanates can suffer debilitating health problems for months or even years after exposure," explained Dr. David Michaels, assistant secretary of labor for occupational safety and health. "Through this program, OSHA will strengthen protections for workers exposed to isocyanates." 

Help safeguard workers from the serious health conditions caused by isocyanates. To protect employees, OSHA recommends providing appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) like protective clothing, eye protection, face protection, chemical-resistant gloves, and respiratory protection.