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Controlling Exposures to Air Contaminants


A performance-based approach to selecting air contaminant controls can help metalcasters achieve the greatest amount of success in optimizing their


exposure control performance. TOM SLAVIN, SLAVIN OSH GROUP LLC, CHICAGO, AND ROBERT SCHOLZ, TRC ENVIRONMENTAL CORP., BROOKFIELD, WISCONSIN


P


rotecting worker health from potentially harmful airborne exposures requires recognition, evaluation


and control of hazards. Te tradi- tional industrial hygiene hierarchy of control specifies hazard elimination first, followed by engineering controls, administrative controls and personal protective equipment (PPE). Tis provides an overly simplified approach to an often complex problem of defining and implementing effective and reliable measures to control air contaminant exposures in metalcast- ing facilities. Protecting workers from exposure to air contaminants requires a performance-based approach to deci- sion making, which adds additional considerations to the long-standing industrial hygiene decision model. Because each control method has advantages and disadvantages, a per-


formance-based model does not auto- matically rank approaches but rather focuses on the application of each technique to the situation at hand. In some cases, combinations of controls or redundant controls may be appro- priate. An exposure control scheme is sought to achieve the highest level of exposure control performance, reli- ability and effectiveness. Tis article discusses a step by step method in which each exposure situation is first approached by developing an appro- priate base of information concerning the hazards to be controlled and the circumstances under which workers are exposed. Te sources of air con- tamination affecting the exposures are then identified, followed by sectioning candidate exposure control measures that address these sources. Finally, the expected performance of each poten- tial control measure can be assessed


using performance factors applied to each potential control method. What results is a proposed control strategy for that situation which then can be further assessed with regards to tech- nical and economic feasibility.


Hazard Assessment Te health and well-being of the


workers who produce castings requires that the air they breathe while per- forming their jobs is not harmful to their health, safety and well-being. A key goal for air quality management is the indoor air environment satisfies metalcasting ventilation needs and air quality regulations in a safe, effective and cost-efficient manner. Te starting point for an indoor


air management program should be the undertaking of an exposure hazard assessment that is plant-wide. A needed outcome of an exposure


Table 1. Potential Sources of Air Contamination Which Can Impact Worker Exposure While Performing Specific Work Tasks Job Title:


Principal Duties: Target Air Contaminant Exposures (follow up from Step 1 Exposure Hazard Assessment):


(1)


Work Task and Work Location(s)


(2)


Percentage of Time (%)


(3)


Potential Exposure Sources


(4)


Circumstances Surrounding Exposure


July 2016 MODERN CASTING | 31


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