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, maritime, and construction.
- 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.