OSHA states that more than 500,000 workers are exposed to asphalt fumes. This common product releases fumes that can have a significant impact on your health.
Common side effects after exposure include:
- Skin rash
- Decreased appetite
- Throat/eye irritation
- Skin cancer
Workers that could encounter these fumes in their work environment must be aware of the possible hazards associated with them. These can be minor or more severe depending on the amount of exposure and the worker. For example, in construction settings where asphalt is a primary material used, road workers are more at risk.
All workers at risk for being exposed to asphalt should receive proper training about health hazards and safety procedures.
If an employee will be working with asphalt, it is imperative to make sure they have the proper Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). To reduce exposure to asphalt fumes and other hazards, OSHA does require PPE to be worn.
According to The Texas Department of Insurance, here is the recommended PPE for handling heated asphalt:
- Chemical goggles and an 8-inch, minimum-sized face shield
- Loose clothing with collars closed and cuffs buttoned at the wrists
- Thermal gloves with gauntlets that extend up the arm, worn loosely for quick removal if covered with hot asphalt
- Boots with tops at least 6 inches high, laced without openings
- Pants with cuffs which extend over the tops of the boots
- Safety shoes at least 15 centimeters high and laced
- Barrier creams and lotions applied for a thin film on skin, which act as a barrier against skin irritants worn with protective clothing
- Long-handled sprayers with flexible hoses
Even when workers are careful, unfortunately accidents do happen. Should there be exposure to asphalt fumes, make sure that the worker is moved to fresh air. If they’re having trouble breathing, oxygen must be administered. If breathing stops, begin artificial respiration and have the worker examined by a health professional.
Stay safe, everyone!