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U.S. Geological Survey Manual

SM 445-2-H CHAPTER 22

Industrial Hygiene – Formaldehyde Control Program

Instruction:  Changes to this chapter were made to reflect organizational changes and to modify the name of the chapter to Formaldehyde Control Program.

1.  Purpose.  The purpose of this chapter is to establish policy and procedures to protect employees from hazardous exposures to formaldehyde.

2.  Scope.  This policy applies to U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) employees and those who work under USGS funding or direction.

3. References.

A.  29 Code of Federal Regulation (CFR) 1910.1048, Formaldehyde.

B.  29 CFR 1910.1048 Appendix A, Substance Technical Guidelines for Formalin.

C.  29 CFR 1910.1048 Appendix B, Sampling Strategy and Analytical Methods for Formaldehyde.

D.  29 CFR 1910.1048 Appendix C, Medical Surveillance - Formaldehyde.

E.  29 CFR 1910.1048 Appendix D, Non-mandatory Medical Disease Questionnaire.

F.  29 CFR 1910.1200, Hazard Communication Standard.

G.  29 CFR 1910.1450, Occupational Exposure to Hazardous Chemicals in Laboratories.

4.  Requirements.

A.  Use, handling, and storage of formaldehyde and formaldehyde-containing solutions and gases shall comply with the requirements of 29 CFR 1910.1048, Formaldehyde.  Requirements include:

(1)  Conducting initial and periodic monitoring to determine employee exposures to formaldehyde using sampling strategies representative of employee’s full-shift and short-term exposures.

(2)  Implementing annual medical surveillance for employees exposed to airborne formaldehyde concentrations equal to or greater than the action level of 0.5 part per million (ppm) as an 8-hour time weighted average or the 15-minute short-term exposure limit (STEL) of 2 ppm; and enrolling employees, who demonstrate signs or symptoms of overexposure to formaldehyde or were exposed to formaldehyde during a mishap.

(3)  Implementing feasible engineering and work practice controls where employee exposures equal or exceed the permissible exposure limit (PEL) of 0.75 ppm as an 8-hour time weighted average or the STEL.

(4)  Establishing regulated areas, where practical, with proper posting of entrances to areas where exposures equal or exceed the PEL or STEL.

(5)  Using respiratory protection and implementing a respiratory protection program where engineering and work practice controls are not feasible or do not reduce exposure below the PEL and STEL.  A local respiratory protection program shall be implemented in accordance with SM 445-2-H.18 Respiratory Protection.

(6)  Providing personal protective equipment and hygiene facilities (e.g., emergency eyewashes or showers) where skin and eye contact may exist.

(7)  Communicating formaldehyde hazard information through safety data sheets, labeling, and annual training of employees working with formaldehyde or formaldehyde-containing solutions (e.g., formalin) and gases.

B.  Sample preservation and preparation with formalin and formalin mixing conducted in laboratories shall be performed using approved laboratory hoods or local exhaust ventilation.

C.  Isolate operations involving formaldehyde gas, such as sterilization, to prevent exposures to employees in adjacent areas.  Isolation may include measures such as the use of sterilization units, negative pressure rooms with dedicated exhaust, or other effective engineering or work practice controls, and designating the area as a regulated area.  Operations in the field involving formaldehyde gas shall be conducted so that employees and other individuals are not exposed to the gas (e.g., downwind).  These operations and control measures shall be documented in a job hazard analysis.

D.  Formaldehyde products such as formalin and specimen containers containing formalin shall be stored in a cool, well-ventilated area and in accordance with any additional requirements listed in the safety data sheet.

E.  Formaldehyde waste products shall be properly stored in a labeled hazardous waste container for proper disposal, in accordance with local hazardous waste requirements.

5.  Responsibilities.

A.  Director.  Directs formaldehyde control program activities through the Designated Agency Safety and Health Official.
B.  Associate Directors and Regional Directors.

(1)  Ensure that managers and supervisors are accountable for ensuring compliance with the formaldehyde control program requirements.

(2)  Ensure that program deficiencies are abated in a timely manner.

C.  Designated Agency Safety and Health Official.

(1)  Exercises the authority of the Director to establish, develop, direct, and manage an effective formaldehyde control program.

(2)  Assigns authority to the Chief, Office of Management Services, for program management and administration.

D.  Chief, Office of Management Services.  Supervises the Occupational Safety and Health Program Manager and provides sufficient authority and resources to effectively support and represent the interests of the USGS in the oversight, management and administration of the formaldehyde control program.

E.  Occupational Safety and Health Program Manager

(1)  Ensures the program management, administration, and operational support of the formaldehyde control program.

(2)  Ensures the development of policies and guidance on formaldehyde handling, use, and control practices.

(3)  Ensures compliance with statutory, regulatory, and program requirements and provides management with the necessary support and guidance to effectively fulfill formaldehyde control program policy commitments.

F.  Industrial Hygienist(s).

(1)  Establish a formaldehyde control program inclusive of policy, guidance, oversight, and assessment.

(2)  Provide technical assistance to mission areas, office, and regional staff in identifying, assessing, and controlling employee exposures to formaldehyde.

(3)  Enter formaldehyde exposure assessment and data into the Department of the Interior Exposure Assessment Web site and analyzes exposure data.

(4)  Coordinate with Regional Safety Managers and the Occupational Safety and Health Management Branch (OSHMB) National Program Section staff to ensure local implementation of the formaldehyde control policies, direction, and guidance.

(5)  Enter formaldehyde findings from exposure assessments, sampling, and special investigations into the Inspection and Abatement System (IAS).

(6)  Provide technical support to mission areas, offices, and regions in identifying and assessing formaldehyde exposures and control measures.

(7)  Provide direction in implementing the medical surveillance program for formaldehyde.

G.  Regional Safety Managers.

(1)  Validate, through inspections and external audits, that exposures to formaldehyde are evaluated and controlled.

(2)  Assist management and Collateral Duty Safety Program Coordinators (CDSPCs) in obtaining industrial hygiene services to assess formaldehyde exposures, and in implementing the medical surveillance program for formaldehyde, when required.  Coordinate with Industrial Hygienists to obtain industrial hygiene services.

(3)  Track and monitor abatement of formaldehyde findings in IAS.

(4)  Provide technical guidance and assistance to CDSPCs in establishing annual employee training on the hazards and controls of formaldehyde and in communicating formaldehyde hazards through safety data sheets and labels.

Note:  OSHMB National Program Section staff shall provide services detailed in 22.5.G.(1-4) above for Associate Directors.

H.  Science Center Directors, Cost Center Managers, and Project Chiefs.

(1)  Ensure local implementation of the formaldehyde control program.

(2)  Ensure that adequate funding resources are provided for control measures to abate formaldehyde exposures.

(3)  Ensure that formaldehyde exposures in the workplace are evaluated through coordination with their respective Regional Safety Manager or the OSHMB National Program Section staff and the Industrial Hygienists.

(4)  Ensure the utilization of feasible engineering controls, administrative controls and work practices, respiratory protection, and personal protective equipment.

(5)  Ensure that employees who are exposed to formaldehyde are provided annual training in formaldehyde.

(6)  Ensure that affected employees are informed of exposure monitoring results.

(7)  Ensure that mishaps involving exposures to formaldehyde are investigated and documented in the Safety Management Information System.

(8)  Ensure that formaldehyde findings from self-inspections are documented in IAS and are abated.

I.  Collateral Duty Safety Program Coordinators

(1)  Assist organizational managers and supervisors in implementing requirements of the formaldehyde control program.  

(2)  Coordinate exposure monitoring and assessments with the Regional Safety Manager or the OSHMB National Program Section staff and the Industrial Hygienists.

J.  Employees.

(1)  Comply with requirements to use engineering controls, administrative and work practice controls, respirators, and personal protective equipment.

(2)  Report to their supervisor or local CDSPC any concerns regarding formaldehyde exposures or mishaps.

/s/ Jose R. Aragon                                                                              October 19, 2015
Jose R. Aragon                                                                                     Date
Associate Director for Administration  

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