OSHA recently released educational guides concerning the dangers of working with or around fluorescent lights in your work environment. Even if you are not directly handling the bulbs such as when recycling or disposing of them in a maintenance job, you may be at more risk than you realize if a light were to break nearby.
It used to be a concern of being cut by the broken glass of a fallen light bulb but with fluorescent lights, there is the additional concern of being exposed to toxic mercury vapors which are contained in the bulbs. For this reason, it is important to report any incidents no matter how small they may seem such as in the case of a broken bulb.
All workers who are in the vicinity of fluorescent light bulbs should be made aware of the potential health risks a broken bulb may cause. In the event a bulb is broken accidentally, proper clean up protocol needs to be followed to protect the health and safety of those nearby. Protective clothing will be necessary to prevent any liquid mercury from affecting the skin and masks to prevent breathing in the toxic mercury vapors.
Employers should have policies for handling broken bulbs and employees should be trained on how to properly respond to such situations to protect themselves. For workers who are in constant contact with the bulbs as a part of their job duties, it is essential to ensure employers are accommodating their safety needs and following the guidelines of OSHA concerning the dangers of mercury.
If you have suffered health problems due to mercury contamination in your workplace, protect your rights to workers compensation benefits. Contact our office toll free at 888-799-3918 or by using our online contact form.