Diesel exhaust is a mixture of gases and particles produced by incomplete combustion of diesel fuel, and it is very harmful for human health. Exposure to high levels of diesel exhaust can cause lung disease. Diesel engines are a power source for heavy equipment and industrial machinery, including transportation, construction, mining, agriculture, and many types of manufacturing operations. The small particulate matter (DPM) that can be released by diesel exhaust includes elemental carbon and organic carbon compounds, ash, sulfates, and silicates. The particulate matter can irritate throat, eyes, nose, and lungs. Employees who works with or at construction sites, tunnels, railroads, oil and gas, loading docks, trucks/buses/cars, materials handling operators, farms, miners, and long-shoring workers may exposed to DE/DPM. Diesel emissions of nitrogen oxides contribute to the formation of ground level ozone, which can cause respiratory problems and reduce lung capacity. OSHA does not have a standard for diesel exhaust as a unique hazard, but the components of diesel exhaust are addressed by general industry standards. In the USA, emission from vehicles is regulated by the EPA, under the Clean Air Act. Federal and State organizations have taken steps to reduce diesel emissions. The EPA adopted a fuel standard to reduce sulfur in diesel fuel. There are also new engine standards for diesel cars, trucks, and heavy equipment. Workplaces must provide a safe working environment for employees through training, education, and the use of engineering and administrative controls to reduce diesel emissions.
- Some Emission Safety Tips:
- If it is possible, use low emission or more efficient diesel engines at workplace.
- Attaching filters to tailpipes and oxidation catalytic converters can reduce exhaust.
- Inspect and maintain engines regularly.
- Turn engines off whenever possible to reduce engine idling.
- Ventilate indoor work area well.
- Use negative air pressure to ventilate the area.
- Use respirators if ventilation is inadequate.
- Reduce worker exposure through job rotation.
- Install diesel oxidation catalysts.
- Make sure the number of vehicles operating in the area does not exceed the capacity of the ventilation system.
- Use required PPE for all tasks.
- Training should include disclosure of potential hazards and risks for workers as well as their control measures.
- Supervisor must make sure safety procedures are followed and training is recorded.