Reducing Exposure to Diesel Exhaust

January 16, 2020

Every year, dangerous diesel exhaust fumes kill more than 38,000 people throughout the world. Workers exposed to toxic gases emitted from diesel vehicles and machinery are developing lung cancer, asthma, and chronic pulmonary disease. Employers have a duty to shield their employees from the dangers associated with diesel exhaust exposure. Employees who work near these dangerous airborne contaminants require training and protection on the job.

Diesel fuel is used to power vehicles and machinery. When the fuel is burned up, it releases dangerous exhaust containing carbon, ash, metals, sulfates, silicates, and other dangerous compounds. Collectively referred to as diesel particulate matter (DPM), these toxins can cause serious health consequences for workers who are repeatedly exposed to them. Many industries use machines and vehicles that run on diesel fuel. Workers in these industries have a higher risk of exposure to DPMs from diesel exhaust. Industries with increased DPM hazards include:

  • Construction
  • Transportation
  • Agriculture
  • Manufacturing
  • Mining
  • Maritime

Steps to Avoid Overexposure

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) recommends several safety steps to reduce workers’ exposure to DPMs, which include the following:

Turn off engines whenever possible. The best way to avoid toxic fumes is to keep them from being released into the air. Turning engines off when not in use will prevent the pollutants from being produced in the first place.

Employ exhaust systems. Protect workers with workspace ventilation systems that circulate contaminated air away from the work area. Tailpipe exhaust extraction is another method to keep exhaust waste products away from workers.

Keep windows up. Occupational drivers should keep their windows up to cut down on their exposure to DPMs on the job. Closing windows and properly recirculating air through a vehicle ventilation system can significantly reduce DPM exposure.

Wear a mask. Workers who must be near diesel machinery should wear a mask that meets the standards for use with diesel exhaust fumes. A proper air-purifying respirator should include a filter certified by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH).

Training. Employers are obligated to train their employees on the dangers of diesel emissions and how to prevent overexposure. Trainees should learn how to use safety equipment, as well as best practices to keep themselves safe. Training should include warning signs of overexposure.

Vineland Workers’ Compensation Lawyers at DiTomaso Law Represent Workers Harmed by Toxic Fumes

Employers have a duty to provide workers with a safe work environment. When they fail to do so, workers can be injured or sickened on the job. Workers who become sick due to exposure to toxic fumes, such as those released in diesel exhaust, may have a case against their employer. The Vineland Workers’ Compensation lawyers at DiTomaso Law can help you collect damages for your work injury. Contact us online or call us at 856-414-0010 to set up a free consultation. Located in Cherry Hill, New Jersey, we represent clients throughout South Jersey, including Mt. Holly, Camden County, and Vineland.