7.1 Exposure Assessments

The purpose of an assessment is to determine if there was an exposure that might have caused harm to lab employees and to identify the chemical(s) involved. Exposure assessments may include interviews with the affected employee(s) and laboratory staff, air monitoring, evaluation of laboratory controls and protective equipment, and medical consultation and examination.

When to suspect overexposure:

  • If an employee manifests symptoms such as headache, rash, nausea, coughing, tearing, irritation or redness of the eyes, irritation of the nose or throat, dizziness, loss of motor dexterity or judgment, etc. and:
    • Some or all of the symptoms disappear when the employee is removed from the exposure area.
    • The symptoms reappear soon after the employee returns to work with the same hazardous chemicals.
  • Two or more persons in the same laboratory work area have similar complaints.
  • A hazardous chemical leaked, spilled or was otherwise rapidly released in an uncontrolled manner.
  • A laboratory employee had direct skin or eye contact with a hazardous chemical.

Note: Odor is not a means of determining exposure levels. If there is reason to suspect that a chemical exposure limit has been exceeded notify the lab supervisor whether or not a suspicious odor is involved.