Employees exposed to Hazardous Substances
Our next project took us to West Yorkshire, where we attended a Sculpture Park. Our client asked us to carry out an assessment of occupational exposure to hazardous substances as their employees were working in close proximity to sculptures made with crystalline penta-hydrate of copper sulphate. Our client needed to know whether the health of his employees was at risk, and how to rectify this should it be the case.
The Sculpture we were asked to investigate was a new piece that had recently been installed at the sculpture park. The artwork consisted of a small one bedroom modular flat placed in the centre of a purpose built concrete enclosure. The internal areas of the artwork were covered with crystalline penta-hydrate of copper sulphate. The public are able to visit the internal area of the sculpture therefore it must also be supervised at all times by one employee. A second employee is positioned outside of the sculpture in order to inform visitors about health and safety rules and the background information of the sculpture. The employees can spend up to 8 hours inside of the sculpture and on average 400-500 visitors are believed to visit the sculpture in a day, typically spending up to 5 minutes inside.
What does the assessment of occupational exposure to hazardous substances entail?
Our surveyor carried out this assessment by collecting airborne particulates and vapours using Cassella and Gillian personal samplers. He also collected samples of inhalable and respirable dust using IOM sampling head fitted QMA filters and respirable foam plugs. All samples for chemical contaminants were carried out by an accredited laboratory then the results were analysed and interpreted by our occupational hygienist.
How to minimise occupational exposure to hazardous substance
Based on the results of air monitoring our surveyor was able to conclude that the employees working in close proximity to the sculpture are unlikely to be exposed to levels of inhalable dust and copper dust above the workplace exposure limits (WELs). Due to this the use of respiratory protective equipment inside the sculpture is not necessary, nor is a health surveillance programme. We strongly recommend that all employees should be trained on the health risks from hazardous substances in the workplace, control measures, their use and maintenance. This training should be refreshed at least once a year so all employees are up to date with any changes to regulations.