Diesel engines provide power to a wide variety of vehicles, heavy equipment, and other machinery used in a large number of industries including mining, transportation, construction, agriculture, maritime, and many types of manufacturing operations. The exhaust from diesel engines contains a mixture of gases and very small particles that can create a health hazard when not properly controlled.
Occupations with potential exposure to DE/DPM include miners, construction workers, heavy equipment operators, bridge and tunnel workers, railroad workers, oil and gas workers, loading dock workers, truck drivers, material handling operators, farmworkers, long-shoring workers, and auto, truck and bus maintenance garage workers.
Most heavy-and medium-duty trucks are equipped with diesel engines, as well as equipment used in mines; buses, locomotives and ships; heavy equipment such as bulldozers and tractors; and other types of equipment such as bucket lifts and generators. Miners and other workers in the vicinity of diesel powered equipment may be exposed to DE/DPM.
In June, 2012, the International Agency for Cancer Research (IARC) classified DE (including DPM) as a known human carcinogen (Group 1).
Engineering controls are the most effective strategy for minimizing worker exposure to DE/DPM. A combination of controls is often required. Examples include:
Administrative controls refer to changes in the way work tasks are performed to reduce or eliminate the hazard. Examples include:
Miners are covered by the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA). Workers in general industry, agriculture, construction and maritime industries are covered by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).
MSHA currently enforces DPM standards at underground metal/nonmetal mines and at underground coal mines.
|Carbon Monoxide (CO)||50 ppm|
|Nitric Oxide (NO)||25 ppm|
|Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2)||5 ppm (ceiling)|
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration does not have a a permissible exposure limit (PEL) for DPM. However, OSHA has PELs for other components of diesel exhaust. Monitoring for these gases can provide an indication of the presence of DE, and can be of help in evaluating the effectiveness of engineering and administrative controls implemented to minimize the potential for exposure to DE when working with or around diesel-powered equipment.
The links below can be used to access additional information regarding diesel regulations and technical information on control measures.
The EPA recommends strategies for reducing diesel exhaust on their website.
For questions, information or advice:
To report an emergency, fatality or catastrophe, or to file a confidential hazard complaint, contact your nearest MSHA district or field office, visit www.msha.gov, or call MSHA at 1-800-746-1553.
For questions, information or advice, to report an emergency, fatality or catastrophe, or to file a confidential complaint, contact your nearest OSHA office, visit www.osha.gov, or call at 1-800-321-OSHA (6472).
This Hazard Alert is not a standard or regulation, and it creates no new legal obligations. It contains recommendations as well as descriptions of mandatory safety and health standards [and other regulatory requirements]. The recommendations are advisory in nature, informational in content, and are intended to assist employers in providing a safe and healthful workplace. The Occupational Safety and Health Act requires employers to comply with safety and health standards and regulations promulgated by OSHA or by a state with an OSHA-approved state plan. In addition, the Act's General Duty Clause, Section 5(a)(1), requires employers to provide their employees with a workplace free from recognized hazards likely to cause death or serious physical harm.
OSHA - HA-3590-2012
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