ChemDAQ is the voice for safety when it deals with people working with and around Hydrogen Peroxide, Peracetic Acid, and Ethylene Oxide. According to OSHA, employers have a duty to provide a safe work environment and employers should have a comprehensive plan to ensure workplace safety. A plan for working with toxic sterilant gases should include the following elements:

1. Employee Training: Employees must be trained on how to use Sterilization equipment properly, how to recognize malfunctions and what to do in the event of a problem. In addition, they should have a good understanding of the hazards of the chemical sterilants they are working with.

2. Engineering Controls: Where feasible engineering controls should be used to keep the sterilant gas concentrations in the ambient air below the Occupational Exposure Limits. 

  • Forced ventilation to prevent any emissions of sterilant gas from entering the ambient air

  • Frequent air changes (10 changes per hour are recommended)

  • Abators to destroy EtO

3. Work Practices:  Employees need to understand how to use specific work practices and know what actions should be taken to protect themselves.

For example, when opening an H2O2 sterilizer, take a few steps back to allow any residual gas to escape before reaching into the sterilizer to unload.  If a H2O2 gas monitor is used, wait until the display indicates that any residual gas is no longer present before proceeding. 

4. Gas Monitoring System: A sterilant gas monitoring system that can various sterilant gases in use at the facility, to provide alerts if the sterilant gas exposure approaches the occupational exposure limit. While many EtO monitors have a reputation for false alarms, monitors are available that are designed not to respond to common interferent gases such as alcohol and low levels of carbon monoxide.  The system should provide both continuous monitoring and real time and time weighted average exposures in ppm, and permanently log the data to comply with OSHA record keeping regulations. 

5. Personal Protective Equipment: Depending on the sterilization technology in use, personal protective equipment may be required, for example, gloves when handling a load from an aborted hydrogen peroxide sterilizer run. The sterilizer manufacturer’s guidelines on PPE should be followed.

If you do not have a gas monitoring system in place,

Contact ChemDAQ to keep workers safe.

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