- Safety and Health Topics
Mercury is naturally occurring and exists in several forms. High mercury exposure results in permanent nervous system and kidney damage. Exposure is most likely to occur during mining, production, and transportation of mercury, as well as mining and refining of gold and silver ores. Mercury is commonly found in thermometers, manometers, barometers, gauges, valves, switches, batteries, and high-intensity discharge (HID) lamps. It is also used in amalgams for dentistry, preservatives, heat transfer technology, pigments, catalysts, and lubricating oils.
Mercury hazards are addressed in specific OSHA standards for General Industry, Shipyard Employment, and Construction.
Properties and Health Effects
Outlines mercury in its three general forms and provides additional information on its properties and the health effects.
Provides information on methods for sampling the difference forms of mercury.
Highlights information on controlling mercury exposure.
Provides links and references to additional resources related to mercury.
- Protecting Workers from Mercury Exposure While Crushing and Recycling Fluorescent Bulbs. OSHA Fact Sheet, (June 2012). Explains how workers may be exposed, what kinds of engineering controls and personal protective equipment they need, and how to use these controls and equipment properly.
- Avoiding Mercury Exposure from Fluorescent Bulbs. OSHA QuickCard™, (2012). Alerts employers and workers to the hazards of mercury and provides information on how to properly clean up accidentally broken fluorescent bulbs to minimize workers' exposures to mercury.
Workers have the right to:
- Working conditions that do not pose a risk of serious harm.
- Receive information and training (in a language and vocabulary the worker understands) about workplace hazards, methods to prevent them, and the OSHA standards that apply to their workplace.
- Review records of work-related injuries and illnesses.
- File a complaint asking OSHA to inspect their workplace if they believe there is a serious hazard or that their employer is not following OSHA's rules. OSHA will keep all identities confidential.
- Exercise their rights under the law without retaliation, including reporting an injury or raising health and safety concerns with their employer or OSHA. If a worker has been retaliated against for using their rights, they must file a complaint with OSHA as soon as possible, but no later than 30 days.
For additional information, see OSHA's Workers page.
How to Contact OSHA
Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their employees. OSHA's role is to ensure these conditions for America's working men and women by setting and enforcing standards, and providing training, education and assistance. For more information, visit www.osha.gov or call OSHA at 1-800-321-OSHA (6742), TTY 1-877-889-5627.