STATEMENT OF PROBLEM AND SPECIAL INFORMATION FOR OCCUPATIONAL HEALTH AND SAFETY
(See endnotes 95, 106)
Diseases and injuries are a constant problem for individuals who are creating and getting rid of waste material, who are collecting waste material and moving it to other locations, who are treating or recycling the material, and who are responsible for final disposal. Individuals working with hazardous materials have the same sort of problems. In the chemical industry and probably other industries, workers are subjected to additional hazards from the base chemicals which are being produced or being used in the production of other substances in large quantities. The active ingredients of special chemicals in the pharmaceutical industry and other industries include large numbers of solvents and chemicals which may be extremely hazardous to the health and welfare of workers even in minute quantities and may cause numerous long-term chronic diseases and conditions. Consumer chemicals are produced typically in smaller batches and often have to be processed at high or low temperatures and pressures, creating additional problems. Maintenance workers may come into contact with a variety of chemicals which are remnants of the product and byproducts but in large enough concentrations to cause disease and injury. Further, the workers are subjected to the health hazards associated with the cleaning materials. All workers including maintenance workers are subjected to diesel engine exhaust with its complex mixture of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, sanding or blasting operations with the production of dust, toxic gases such as those produced by welding including phosgene, and residues of chlorinated solvents. Injuries are a constant concern not only for the typical worker but especially for the maintenance people. Crude mineral oil is used in various areas to help prevent friction. Confined space injuries and deaths may occur from the production of hydrogen sulfide gas, a low oxygen environment, and other chemical fumes. The catalyst used may be more dangerous than the actual chemicals.
When a unit or plant shuts down for maintenance activities, the employees working on maintenance may come into closer contact than normal with equipment, piping systems, residues of hazardous substances, pipes, storage tanks, and processing areas. The cleaning and washing of pipes, tanks, equipment, and the interior of the facility creates wastewater which may easily be very hazardous to the health and safety of the individuals. Manual brushing to get rid of rust and other residues or sanding creates high concentrations of hazardous dusts. The use of high-pressure hoses to clean the dust off of equipment, pipes, storage vessels, and floors may create contaminated aerosols.