Q & A: Formaldehyde (formalin) - 1910.1048
Question: “In regards to the formalin, in the medical clinic we occasionally use the formalin jars for specimens, would we be required to be training on this?”
Answer: 1910.1048 is OSHA’s governing standard.
Depending on the amount of formalin present at your facility, and the parts-per-million concentration, I highly recommend you click the link and read the standard because there’s a critical component related to exposure monitoring for employees that I wouldn’t want to ignore (you know, just to make extra sure).
Here’s what you need to know to guide decision making:
Permissible Exposure Limit (PEL) -
TWA: The employer shall assure that no employee is exposed to an airborne concentration of formaldehyde which exceeds 0.75 parts formaldehyde per million parts of air (0.75 ppm) as an 8-hour
Short Term Exposure Limit (STEL): The employer shall assure that no employee is exposed to an airborne concentration of formaldehyde which exceeds two parts formaldehyde per million parts of air (2 ppm) as a 15-minute STEL.
And here’s what the standard says about training:
Employee information and training -
Participation. The employer shall assure that all employees who are assigned to workplaces where there is exposure to formaldehyde participate in a training program, except that where the employer can show, using objective data, that employees are not exposed to formaldehyde at or above 0.1 ppm, the employer is not required to provide training.
Frequency. Employers shall provide such information and training to employees at the time of initial assignment, and whenever a new exposure to formaldehyde is introduced into the work area. The training shall be repeated at least annually.
It might be appropriate to first conduct some indoor air quality testing to determine exposure.
For example, if a coworker is in a room with an open jar of formalin for 20 minutes, and exposure exceeds two parts formaldehyde per million parts of air (2 ppm), that’s above the limit, and would trigger monitoring.
Alternatively, if an employee opens a small jar of formaldehyde once every two weeks, for less than a minute, there’s probably no reason to worry. You really want to ensure that this stuff is not getting into the air, or leaking out.
Most workers comp insurers can point you to resources to help you settle the exposure question, or set you up with indoor air quality monitoring for free; they’ll contract to have someone come in and run an actual test.
If you need training, we have an safety training online for this topic that satisfies the training standard. We’ve also got healthcare, laboratory and hazard communication safety courses.