Workplace Health.

Learning Goals:

  1. Contrast workplace exposures to environmental exposures.
  2. Overview the main standards-setting bodies and key definitions such that the student can understand exposure limits
  3. Overview health outcomes

If Jack is exposed to 10 ppm of styrene, it won't matter to Jack if the styrene was in his work environment or his home environment. However if Jack's exposure took place at work, his employer would be under no legal obligation to reduce the exposure. The OSHA workplace limit for styrene is 100 ppm. If it took place at Jack's home, perhaps from a nearby chemical plant, the EPA would require the plant to reduce their emissions, probably to less than 1 ppm. Why? Jack's lungs are the same, whether he is at home or work. Let's think about fairness and contrast Jack, who works at the styrene plant, with, Harry, who does not work there.

How old is Jack .

How old is Harry

Is Jack healthy

Is Harry healthy

How many hours a week is Jack exposed

How many hours a week is Harry exposed

How much is Harry paid for his styrene exposure

There you have the key differences between environmental and workplace exposure. The appreciable laws are administered by two different agencies. The EPA protects people in the environment; OSHA protects workers in the workplace. It is a common mistake to apply OSHA workplace standards to environmental exposures.


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