OSHA Focuses on Isocyanates Via National Emphasis Program

OSHA has announced a new National Emphasis Program for occupational exposure to isocyanates that will focus outreach and inspections on specific hazards in the manufacturing, maritime and construction industries.

On Dec. 3, 1984, over 40 tons of methyl isocyanate and other lethal gases including hydrogen cyanide, leaked into the northern end of Bhopal, killing over 3,000 people in its immediate aftermath and causing ongoing health issues for thousands more. More recently, a large explosion and fire that took the lives of two workers and injured several more at the Bayer CropScience plant in Institute, W. Va., in August 2008 was caused by a thermal runaway reaction during the production of an insecticide containing methyl isocyanate.

OSHA’s new National Emphasis Program for isocyanates will target the serious health effects from occupational exposure to isocyanates. OSHA develops national emphasis programs to focus outreach efforts and inspections on specific hazards in an industry for a 3-year period. Through this NEP, OSHA will focus on workplaces in manufacturing, construction and maritime industries that use isocyanate compounds in an effort to reduce occupational illnesses and deaths.

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