Occupational Health Efforts of the Department of Defense

HRD-79-9: Published: Nov 21, 1978. Publicly Released: Nov 21, 1978.

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Occupational health efforts of three military installations were reviewed to determine whether their programs were effective in protecting employees from exposure to toxic substances and harmful physical agents. Of the three installations reviewed, none were routinely requesting material safety data sheets when they bought toxic items and data sheets were not on hand for most of the toxic items found at the installations. Most of the workers interviewed at the Picatinny Arsenal and about half of the workers interviewed at the Norfolk Naval Shipyard were unaware of the potential harmful effects of the substances they worked with and had not been given training in the safe use of emergency procedures for the substances. Workers at the Portsmouth Naval Regional Medical Center indicated that they were aware of the hazards of some of the substances they worked with and were trained in their safe use. At all three installations, the industrial hygiene surveys were not adequate to detemine whether employees working with toxic substances were adequately protected. The Departments of Defense (DOD), the Army, and the Navy established occupational safety and health policies and have issued directives and guidelines for establishing and maintaining effective programs. However, adequate action has not been taken to ensure that the programs were properly implemented. The Secretary of Defense should take actions to ensure that effective occupational health programs are implemented at DOD installations.

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