Why Lung Protection is Crucial in the Construction Industry
Lung hazards in the construction industry are often silent and invisible. Workers typically don’t notice them at the time of exposure. Some workplace breathing hazards impact people internally, over the course of regular exposure.
For these reasons, construction site managers need to be especially aware of the risks. It’s critical to be sure workers are prepared to handle materials safely, and that they have ready access to suitable and comfortable equipment for any potentially hazardous task.
Lung Diseases Connected With Exposure to Construction Materials
Workplaces have faced legal actions over lung conditions acquired due to exposure to gases or dust. These conditions include:
- Occupational asthma and environmental allergies;
- Bronchiolitic obliterans, an obstructive lung disease that can be caused by fumes;
- Chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases such as emphysema;
- Chronic coughs, fatigue, and shortness of breath.
Materials Most Likely to Be Hazardous
Construction materials—new and old plywood, carpeting, laminate flooring, and pressed-wood products—emit chemical fumes, such as formaldehyde and other volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Solvents, glues, chemical powders, sprays, polishes and cleansers may give off benzene or other toxic chemicals. Workers must take particular precautions with products containing benzene, which causes cancer, or methylene chloride, which the human body converts to carbon monoxide.
Dust and smoke, even from non-toxic materials, can cause serious health issues when breathed into the lungs. Breathing tiny particles can lead to heart diseases or heart attacks. It can also bring on various condition that impair lung function or even cause Alzheimer’s disease.
Hidden Hazards in Building Materials
Older drywall, tiles, pipes and insulation may contain asbestos or other hazards. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) released a study in 2017, reporting continued deaths among working-age people resulting from malignant mesothelioma resulting from asbestos exposure.
Buildings typically contain lead paint if constructed before 1978. Workers who tear out walls can breathe in hazardous chemicals. According to OSHA, more than 800,000 U.S. construction workers are breathing in lead on the job. From the lungs, lead moves into the bloodstream and can damage the organs. Results may include kidney disorders, neurological impacts, and high blood pressure. High levels of exposure can be fatal.
The Protective Effect of Knowledgeable Construction Site Management
Once reasonable air quality and ventilation are in place, if hazardous gases and airborne particles are inevitably present, respirators and breathing equipment become necessary.
It’s easy to take healthy hearts and lungs for granted when a project’s on a deadline. But lung protection is a crucial element of worker health and well-being.
Aware management ensures that all employees know of and understand the reasoning behind OSHA regulations. Worker knowledge about lung protection leads to better compliance.
Wearability: A Key Element of Compliance With OSHA Regulations
Personal protective equipment, or PPE, should feel comfortable to the people who use it. Construction site staff should find that the safety equipment they use and wear is not awkward to use.
The right gear should be adjustable, and easy to fit correctly to avoid blisters, chafing, or any kind of discomfort.
The Right Lung Protection for Your Construction Sites
Be sure to have the right lung protection equipment, with highly rated wearability. Contact us to discuss maintaining the right lung protection solutions for your particular work sites. Protect workers today—and over the course of their lives.