The Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 was signed into law by President Richard M. Nixon on December 29, 1970. Forty years ago today, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) was established.
Over the past four decades, the nation has made dramatic progress in reducing work-related deaths and injuries. Since 1970, workplace fatalities have been reduced 65 percent, while reported occupational injury and illness rates have declined nearly 67 percent.
Unfortunately, far too many preventable injuries and fatalities still occur, with 12 workers dying on the job daily, while more than 3.3 million men and women suffer a serious work-related injury or illness annually.
Worse, millions more are exposed to toxic chemicals that may cause illness or death years in the future. Therefore, OSHA has established permissible exposure limits (PEL) - the legal exposure limit of employees - to hundreds of chemical substances and physical agents (29 CFR 1910.1000, Tbl Z-1)
Most of the PELs are time-weighted average (TWA) exposure concentrations over 8 hours. For some chemicals, OSHA mandates employee short-term exposure limits (STELs), calculated as a 15 minute TWA (also called the excursion limit for ethylene oxide) and ceiling limits to toxic substances in the workplace.
In the case of low temperature sterilization, even though equipment is designed to the highest safety standards, failures of equipment, ventilation systems, and mishandling of sterilants agents frequently occurs.
For hospitals, ambulatory surgical centers and healthcare facilities, employee exposure to sterilant concentrations exceeding OSHA mandates typically results in hazmat decontamination and evacuation. In addition to disrupting Sterile Processing Department operations productivity, co-dependent functions like surgery are impacted, which goes right to the hospital’s bottom line.
Higher capacity healthcare-related sterilization and disinfection, segments – medical device manufacturers, contract sterilization and pharmaceuticals – utilize sterilants in volume. Highly combustible, potentially catastrophic OSHA sterilant concentration employee expands the consequences of not continuously monitoring to multiple, serious work-related employee injuries or worse.
OSHA also mandates employee workplace respiratory injury prevention and protection standards for other sterilization and disinfection intensive sectors; specifically: aseptic packaging, food & produce processing and storage.
The ChemDAQ Steri-Trac® Sterilant Gas Monitoring System provides the optimal solution for workplace safety assurance, protecting personnel from serious health effects associated with exposure to toxic sterilant gases, disinfectant and anti-microbial agents such as Ethylene Oxide, Hydrogen Peroxide, Ozone and Peracetic Acid. The system is modular, ranging from a single area monitor to multi-point, multi-gas systems and can flexibly accommodate additional sterilizers as well as the introduction of new/different sterilant gases.
Modularity also increases system reliability. For instance, should one component fail, the rest of the system would continue to function normally and providing redundant protection. In addition, Steri-Trac sensors are electrochemical affording high sensitivity, continuous monitoring and fast response times.
Steri-Trac Area Monitors work in conjunction with ChemDAQ’s DAQ® Central Monitoring System to continuously track and analyze exposure values in areas where toxic gases are used or stored. The DAQ calculates the time weighted average exposures and alarms when OSHA and other federal, state and local regulatory agencies and professional organizations maximum exposure limits are exceeded. The system also provides impending alerts to allow remedial action be taken before a hazardous situation develops.
In the event of a significant sterilant gas or chemical leak the system provides visual and audible alarms based on the instantaneous gas concentration. Even when everyone is clear, the ChemDAQ system continues to monitor the air and lets management and employees know when it is safe to return.
ChemDAQ provides summaries of the complex OSHA Regulations, Recordkeeping and Health Risks covering low temperature sterilant gas and disinfectant agent exposure. As an industry thought-leaders, we also maintain reference links to Educational Opportunities & Articles Related to Workplace Safety on our website.
Providing a safe working environment for employees is an important consideration for any business, particularly those that use or store toxic gases as part of their normal processes. For this reason, Steri-Trac is the ideal solution for companies utilizing sterilization and disinfection processes as a critical component of their overall operation.
ChemDAQ, helping you protect what matters most.