Thursday, April 2, 2015

NIOSH Calls for Tobacco-Free Workplaces

NIOSH is recommending that all workplaces become tobacco-free and that employers make tobacco cessation programs available to workers. These latest recommendations, which also encompass the use of e-cigarettes "are aimed at protecting workers from the occupational hazards of tobacco and the effects of secondhand exposure to tobacco smoke and emissions from e-cigarettes," NIOSH says.

The recommendations are the first NIOSH guidance to include recommendations on e-cigarettes. Because of the limited data available on the safety of exposure to e-cigarette emissions, NIOSH says these products should be included in indoor smoking bans. Here are some specific recommendations from the agency:
  • All workers, including workers who use tobacco and nonsmokers exposed to secondhand smoke at their workplace, should know the OSH risks associated with their work, including those that can be made worse by personal tobacco use, and how to limit those risks.
  • Develop, implement and modify tobacco-related policies, interventions and controls in a stepwise and participatory manner. Get input from employees, labor representatives, line management, EHS and wellness staff, and human resources professionals.
  • Comply with current OSHA and MSHA regulations that prohibit or limit smoking, smoking materials, and/or use of other tobacco products in work areas characterized by the presence of explosive or highly flammable materials or potential exposure to toxic materials.
  • Establish and maintain smoke-free environments that protect those in workplaces from involuntary, secondhand exposures to tobacco smoke and airborne emissions from e-cigarettes and other electronic nicotine delivery systems. "Smoke-free zones should encompass 1) all indoor areas without exceptions; 2) all areas immediately outside building entrances and air intakes; and 3) all work vehicles," NIOSH says. "Additionally, ashtrays should be removed from these areas."
  • Provide information on tobacco-related health risks and on benefits of quitting to all employees and other workers such as contractors and volunteers. In addition, provide information on employer-provided and publically available tobacco cessation services to all employees and other workers at the work site.
  • Provide employer-sponsored cessation programs at no cost or subsidize cessation programs for lower-wage workers to encourage their participation.