Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Nano-Enabled Products in Construction & Demolition: Exploring the OSH Risks

Nanotechnology has been a topic of interest to OSH professionals for several years, particularly because of it's simply not known how these particles may affect worker safety and health. Researchers at Loughborough University in the U.K. are working to identify products used in construction that contain nano materials or were developed using nanotechnology.

"We are exploring the potential health impact of these products, particularly for those involved during demolition, to provide guidance for OSH professionals and others involved with the built environment," explains Dr. Wendy Jones. While use of nano materials in the construction process is limited, Jones notes that "it is difficult to identify exactly what is being used and in what way, as the labelling of nano-enabled products is poor and many safety data sheets provide very limited information."

For the next phase of research, the team aims to expose some nano products to demolition-type processes. "This will enable us to provide guidance on recommended risk control measures for those installing these products into buildings or removing them at the end of a building’s life," Jones says.

NIOSH has a dedicated webpage addressing OSH and nanotechnology, as do OSHA and the U.K.'s Health and Safety Executive.