Today, new consumer products manufactured using nanotechnology are coming on the market at a fast rate. Nanoparticles are already used in paints, car parts, eyeglasses, cosmetics, tennis racquets and clothing, and their use is expected to increase in the near future.
While nanotechnology is an exciting new field, it may also pose potentially serious hazards for workers who handle nanoparticles. Keep safety and prevention in mind to protect your workers and your company.
Here are some ways your business can protect workers from harm:
- Require special protective clothing for your employees. Research indicates that nanoparticles can possibly penetrate traditional knit clothing. Ironically, clothing weaved using nanotechnology to prevent the entrance of minute particles could prove to be the most effective.
- Require all employees to wear eye protection even when not working directly with nanoparticles or nanomaterials. The particles tend to behave like gasses, settling more slowly than other particles and dispersing widely while also re-suspending easily.
- Restrict consumption of food and drinks to non-work areas. Nanoparticles could be just as harmful if ingested as if they are if inhaled due to their ability to permeate through organs and into the bloodstream.
- Provide shower and locker room facilities for all employees, and require workers to shower and change clothing when leaving their work area. Be active in preventing the spread of nanoparticles outside of the workplace.
- Educate your employees. Give them the latest information on nanotechnology news and trends so they are aware of the dangers and are sure to use extra precautions.
- Reduce unnecessary exposure. Limit the number of employees working with or around nanoparticles by using safe handling procedures or a closed system when working with high volumes of nanoparticles.
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Nanotechnology could be a huge opportunity for growth in your industry. The American Society of Safety Engineers predicts that by 2019, 50 per cent of all products produced will be influenced by nanotechnology, which will provide jobs for millions of workers.
However, the future could also hold health problems for workers exposed to nanotechnology, and lawsuits for companies that did not do enough to protect employees. Because the health hazards are so uncertain, you should create your safety and protective policies with extra caution to protect both your employees and your company.
Download your own copy of our in-depth guide Risk Insights: Nanotechnology for free so you can better protect your assets and manage risks: