#70 Inhalation Hazards

Health depends on breathing clean air. In today’s highly industrial environment, inhalation (respiratory) hazards are a part of life. These hazards are often invisible and can even be odorless but can cause severe health problems in case of exposure. California Code of Regulations, Title 8, General Industry Safety Orders §5141 and §5143 require prevention of employee exposure to harmful levels of airborne contaminants by installing and using engineering controls wherever it is feasible to do so. Installing ventilation equipment that is designed to remove contaminants from the employee’s breathing zone, substituting a non-toxic or less toxic substance for the harmful substance, and isolating or enclosing the work operation are the most widely used engineering controls.


Cal/OSHA standards include an employee’s “Right-to-Understand” about hazardous conditions and/or materials that they may be exposed to during the course of their employment and how to safely protect themselves. Hazardous conditions must be identified and documented, hazardous materials inventoried and properly communicated by use of “accessible” Safety Data Sheets (“SDS”). All hazardous materials should be carefully labeled. If a hazard is found (or develops) that cannot be immediately abated, the jobsite should be secured with appropriately placed signs and the area taped off, in order to prevent possible exposure and/or injury.


Respiratory protection can be used only when it is impracticable to use either engineering controls or administrative controls for reducing employee exposure to acceptable levels, or while engineering controls are being installed, or in emergency situation. Employers in the construction industry follow the requirements for respiratory protection that are specified in Title 8 CCR’s §1528, 1529, 1530, & 1531.