Radiation exposure is dependent on the type of radiation and the mitigation measures for protection. The three general mitigation measures are: TIME; DISTANCE; and BARRIER.

There are three types of ionizing radiation

  1. ALPHA - Has a very high ability to ionize human tissue (called the Linear Energy Transport) but a very low penetration rate (can be stopped by paper). One would have to be very close to the source to be affected.
  2. BETA - Has a low ability to ionize human tissue and a low penetration ability (can be stopped by glass). One would have to be very close to the source to be affected.
  3. GAMMA - The highest risk of the three. Has a low to high ability to ionize human tissue and a low (glass) to high (lead) penetration ability. This type of radioactivity can affect a person at different distances depending on its energy.

Radiation dose is measured in millirems per hour (mrem/hr). Normal background radiation is approximately 0.02 mrem/hr. Areas that exceed levels of 0.02 mrem/hr have to be posted.


[LINK to http://www.osha-slc.gov/OshStd_data/1910_1096.html]


On December 6, 1991, OSHA issued final regulations on job exposure to blood-borne pathogens. These are primarily bacteria and viruses present in human blood and body fluids that can cause disease in humans. OSHA has determined that employees are at risk when they are exposed on the job to blood and other materials that may cause infections. These materials may contain certain pathogens or germs. These pathogens include hepatitis B virus (HBV), which causes hepatitis B, a serious liver disease, and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), which causes acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS).

OSHA concluded that employers can reduce or remove this hazard from the workplace. This can be done by using a combination of engineering and work practice controls, personal protective clothing and equipment, training, medical surveillance, hepatitis B vaccination, signs and labels, and other provisions. The OSHA regulation is 1910.1030. This regulation includes any employee for whom there is a "reasonable anticipation" of exposure to blood or other materials that could cause infections while on the job. This regulation covers employees beyond the health care industry. The following is the most common industry/occupation covered by this regulation:

The following symbol represents biohazards. This universal symbol is found on red or yellow bags:

The American Red Cross is an excellent resource for material on biological hazards. [Red Cross homepage]

[Link to http://www.osha-slc.gov/OshStd_data/1910_1030.html]


Safety hazards come in a variety of forms and are peculiar to a particular work place. Common safety hazards are: slippery footing, dropping heavy materials on the foot, head banging, sharp objects, heated machinery or materials, over stressing of the muscles and tendons, back strain because of improper lifting techniques, falling from ladders, and repetitive work syndrome (typing, standing in one place, or any other motion that is frequently repeated without relief).

Each workplace has a unique set of hazards, therefore, there is no one universal rule that can cover the realm of workplace safety hazards. Common sense precautions and constant awareness of one's safety can reduce or eliminate the majority of hazards faced by workers. There is often a fine line drawn between safe work practices and productivity. In the long run, because of insurance costs and loss of productivity because of injury, it is always wise to err on the side of safety. A safety program that involves the employees in identifying safety hazards and solutions has proven to be the most successful in reducing or eliminating on-the-job injuries. [LINK to http://www.osha-slc.gov/OshStd_toc/OSHA_Std_toc_1910.html]


Electrical hazards primarily are the result of exposed wiring, an electrical short, or failure to disconnect electricity before working on electrical equipment. If any kind of electrical shock is experienced, a trained professional with electrical knowledge should be called in. Those who work in and around electrical machinery and wiring should always make sure that electrical power is off/disconected before work takes place. Extreme caution should be taken when electricity and water are in close proximity to each other. Water can greatly enhance electrical conductivity. Electrical burns can be extremely serious and should receive immediate medical attention. [LINK to http://www.osha-slc.gov/OshStd_toc/OSHA_Std_toc_1910_SUBPART_S.html ]


Heat stress can occur when the ambient temperature is too high and overtakes the body's ability to shed the heat. The body's natural defense against heat is by sweating and by shunting the blood to the skin surface for the purpose of heat exchange. Factors that help this process include low humidity and the wind speed across the surface of the skin. Certain clothing, such as cotton, can help this process by acting as a wick against the body, as can the ingestion of large amounts of fluids.

Other clothing, such as Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) that is chemical resistant, can trap the heat and defeat the body's natural process of shedding heat. Particular care should be taken when PPE is used, especially if the ambient temperature is high and workers are not acclimated to the high temperature.

Signs and Symptoms of Heat Stress:

Heat Rash may result from continuous exposure to heat or humid air.

Heat Cramps are caused by heavy sweating with inadequate electrolyte replacement. Signs and symptoms include:

Heat Exhaustion occurs from increased stress on various body organs including inadequate blood circulation due to cardiovascular insufficiency or dehydration. Signs and symptoms include:

Heat Stroke is the most serious form of heat stress. 50% of the people who reach this stage die! Temperature regulation fails and the body temperature rises to critical levels. Immediate action must be taken to cool the body before serious injury and death occur. Competent medical help must be obtained. Signs and symptoms are:

[ LINK to http://www.osha-slc.gov/SLTC/heatstress/index.html]


Cold exposure factors include ambient temperature, proper clothing, and wind chill (speed). Excessive cooling of the body leads to shivering, then progresses to numbness of limbs, then finally as the body shuts down to die the victim lapses into coma, them death. When the loss of feeling in any limbs occurs, immediately seek shelter and warmth. Cold limbs should be warmed gradually and slowly. Excessive and rapid heating of cold body parts can cause damage. When frostbite occurs, seek proper medical attention. Severe frostbite is characterized by blackened body parts.

[Link to http://www.osha-slc.gov/OshDoc/Fact_data/FSNO98-55.html]


Noise is once again a factor of Time, Distance, and Barrier. A person is able to hear sound between 20 cycles per second (Hertz) and 20,000 hertz. The loss of hearing for most people generally occurs first around 4000 hertz. Speech frequencies range from 300 Hertz to 3000 hertz.

OSHA has established noise standards which are measurements of the noise that equipment will produce at the equipment operator's hearing location. The measurement is an average of all of the frequencies but more weight is given to the speech frequencies. This measurement is called decibel "A" weighted (dBA). The noise measurements in dBA represent a ratio of logarithm. Consequently, a 3 to 5 increase in dBA noise represents approximately the doubling of the intensity of the noise. Factors such as the duration of the noise, how far away the noise is, and any barriers to the noise can mitigate the actual dBA level of the noise.

The ACGIH has also set standards which are recommendations only. These recommendations are generally lower than OSHA's enforceable standards. The ACGIH recommends employers adopt a HCP and provide hearing protection when noise levels exceed 85 dBA for 8 hours. The following shows higher noise standards and recommendations:


Remote areas - no sources
Average home, office
Vacuum cleaner (10 feet)
Subway train (20 feet)
Printing Press
Air pressure
Riveting machine
Jet takeoff (200 feet)
30-40 dBA
50-60 dBA
60-70 dBA
70-75 dBA
90 dBA
90 dBA
90-115 dBA
110 dBA
110-120 dBA

Foam plugs
Ear muffs
Kleenex or toilet tissue

Where to locate information on chemicals at other facilities - LEPCs and SERCs

Sometimes a worker can be exposed from an adjacent workplace. The worker may wish to know what is or what has the potential to adversely effect them from nearby workplaces, such as in an industrial park. Large warehouses and industrial buildings can exchange a large volume of air, and if the air is being impacted by a nearby facility, then that air can be sucked in for workers to breath and to be exposed to. Similarly, a chemical spill, fire or release in an emergency situation, or from an accident in a nearby facility could have off-site consequences that adjacent facilities and their workers may not be prepared for. For information about facilities outside of your workplace, contact the Local Emergency Planning Committee (LEPC) [usually on the county level of government] [LINK TO LEPC LIST] or the State Emergency Response Commission (SERC) and ask for Tier Two Reports [LINK TO TIER TWO REPORT] and Form R Reports for the facility in question.


When working at a facility, a facility making chemical process changes, or even a facility that is merely rearranging chemicals stored at the facility, the facility workers should be aware of, and consider the compatibility of, the various chemicals that may be stored next to each other at the facility. This is important because the inadvertent mixing of incompatible chemicals can cause fires, explosions, poison gases to form, and other unexpected outcomes. It is important to consider what possible mixing of chemicals might occur in the event of a spill, fire, or hazardous materials incident.

To help understand potential reactions where more than one chemical may be involved in a spill scenario, the Chemical Reactivity Worksheet has been developed. It can be found on the web at: http://response.restoration.noaa.gov/chemaids.html, or at http://response.restoration.noaa.gov/chemaids/react.html. This can be downloaded from the Internet. It includes a database of reactivity information for more than 4,000 common hazardous chemicals. The database includes information about the special hazards of each chemical and about whether a chemical reacts with air, water, or other materials. It also includes a way to virtually "mix" chemicals to find out what dangers could arise from accidental mixing.