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VICTIMS OF DIESEL EXPOSURES

How to Reduce Diesel Exposure at Work

Published on February 3rd, 2017 by Andrew L. Hughes

American workers employed in industries such as the railroad, truck driving, truck repair, mining, construction, firefighting, and many others are exposed to diesel exhaust on a daily basis. Ongoing diesel fume exposure can lead to a variety of complications and diseases, including various forms of cancer and leukemia. Fortunately, there are some measures you can take as a worker to protect yourself against harmful diesel exhaust. Follow our recommendations below to stay safe on the job!

Address the Source of Diesel Exhaust in Your Workplace

In the firefighting industry, for example, the best way to reduce diesel fumes in the fire station is to encourage your city to invest in post-2007 lower emission diesel apparatus. Those old fire trucks spewing black diesel soot all around the fire station need to go! In the trucking industry, utilizing a modern truck can help stop some diesel exposures. You might also be surprised by the types of equipment that are currently running on alternative fuels such as propane and natural gas. So seeking engines powered by alternative fuels is another option.

Proper Ventilation in Buildings

If you work in a shop, dock, garage or terminal where diesel equipment is started or left running, those resulting fumes need to be pulled out of your work area. Source capture is an ideal method where tubes are connected to the tailpipes of the vehicles and equipment. You see source capture systems in many fire stations. Where source capture is not available, a second option includes systems that monitor the air quality and trigger exhaust fans in the ceilings whenever CO levels exceed certain limits. Those fans pull the fumes upwards away from the workers. Older methods such as keeping windows open at certain points in buildings are totally outdated. If your employer is not properly ventilating your workplace, file complaints and/or contact OSHA. Or call Diesel Injury Law – we would be happy to provide you with studies on diesel exposures and pamphlets from companies that specialize in ventilation. Your health depends on it.

Maintain & Retrofit Existing Equipment

Improperly maintained diesel power is a great source of concern. When your truck or locomotive is not properly maintained, it runs less efficiently and kicks off more diesel fumes and particulates than a properly maintained version of that same engine. Modifications to your exhaust system are also available. Retrofit your truck with a DEF system. The federal government offers rebates and grants for modifications to construction equipment and school buses which result in reduced diesel emissions. If you operate an old school bus every day and suffer from chronic headaches or a runny nose associated with those diesel exposures, tell your employer about the availability of these grants. Your passengers will surely thank you!

Limit Time Spent Next To Idling Engines

We speak to over-the-road drivers all the time who sleep in their cabs amidst running diesel powered trucks and APU’s. Worst still, we hear about truck drivers being nearby when trucks go into regens and are thus exposed to those toxic regen fumes. While it is difficult for these drivers to limit their exposures, try to make some common sense decisions when parking your truck such as parking away from or at least upwind of other trucks. For school bus drivers, adhere to the no idle laws and encourage your co-workers to do the same. Do what you can to avoid enclosed spaces where diesel-powered equipment is left idling.

Get the Proper PPE

PPE stands for “personal protective equipment”. Workers in hazardous environments need proper PPE to do their jobs. If you know you’re going to be working in an environment that is full of diesel exhaust, you should wear a respirator. Also, wear clothes that cover your skin. Diesel particulates – the soot – that ends up on your face, neck and hands every day is toxic. Diesel soot contains carcinogens that are absorbed through the skin. After being absorbed through your skin, the carcinogens find their way into the bloodstream. Diesel Injury Law represents tradesmen stricken by various forms of leukemia who describe chronic exposures to diesel soot during their careers. Cover your skin and clean that soot off as frequently as possible.

Talk with Your Employer

There may be changes that should be made which are outside of your control. This is when you need to talk to your employer to bring up your concerns. For example, if your work facility is not well-ventilated, it poses a risk to your safety and health. Diesel Injury Law will provide you with studies that you can provide to your employer. Making changes to your work facility is an issue that needs to be addressed with management. Getting the proper PPE may also be something you want to discuss with management.

Ask OSHA

If you need additional assistance in making your workplace a safer and healthier environment, consider contacting your local OSHA office. OSHA (the Occupational Safety & Health Administration) is the US government agency responsible for workplace health and safety. OSHA will often send out an investigator to your workplace. At the very least, OSHA will help guide your employer on the steps needed to make your work environment safer.

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