Users of styrene and certain other chemicals will be targeted for special OSHA inspections under a local emphasis program in Kansas, Nebraska and Missouri.

According to a November 12 OSHA release, the program will make efficient use of OSHA’s industrial hygiene resources by focusing on industrial sites that are known to have released EPA-monitored hazardous chemicals. Through the emphasis program, OSHA expects to improve education for company management and strengthen protections for workers exposed to these chemicals.

OSHA will use EPA’s Toxics Release Inventory database to identify industrial sites for inspections.  Composites manufacturers are required to report releases and off-site transfers to the TRI database if they process more than 25,000 pounds of styrene or other listed chemical per year (for open molders, this is equivalent to approximately three drums of resin or gel coat used per week).

Although the OSHA inspections may cover all aspects of the workplace, employers should expect inspections carried out under this regional emphasis program to focus on worker exposures to styrene and other possibly toxic substances. Information regarding common composites industry workplace hazards is available on ACMA’s website.

OSHA wants to encourage employers to use its new safer chemicals toolkit to find less hazardous materials. To comply with EPA’s air emission standards, composites manufacturers have already reduced use and emissions of styrene and other toxic chemicals. The EPA requirements for limiting atmospheric emissions from composites manufacturing operations, which also reduce worker exposures, are summarized on ACMA’s website.