Work Practice Controls

Work practice controls are procedures that serve to limit employee exposures. The effectiveness in reducing exposures thus relies heavily on worker training and the use of standard operating procedures. Some examples of good work practices are the routine use of available local exhaust ventilation, the use of wetting agents to reduce dust levels and the observance of good housekeeping and personal hygiene practices. Housekeeping practices should include routine cleanup of the work area, particularly for dusty processes. However, the clean up activities themselves should not raise dust that may increase exposures. For example, dry sweeping may need to be prohibited and replaced by vacuum cleaning systems fitted with appropriate filters.

Good personal hygiene is important in all jobs and should be encouraged. Employees should be encouraged to change contaminated clothing in order to reduce the risk of contact dermatitis and of inhalation of nickel-bearing dust from contaminated clothing. If necessary, changes of work clothing and shower facilities should be made available. In areas where moisture, exposure to solvents, or wet working increases skin irritation (and thus, the possibility of developing nickel sensitization) appropriate protective clothing should be provided.

Particular attention should be given to the selection and maintenance of gloves. Some latex gloves can cause their own form of allergic contact dermatitis called latex glove contact urticaria (LGCU). LGCU can be avoided by wearing gloves made from polyvinyl chloride or synthetic rubber or by wearing cotton or plastic under- gloves (Turjanmaa and Reunala, 1991). Once gloves or gauntlets impervious to soluble salts, their solutions and/or powders have been selected, they should be washed and tested for leaks daily and replaced whenever found to be faulty.

Because smoking is the most common cause of respiratory cancer, it should be discouraged, if not banned. Appropriate educational materials and smoking cessation programs can play an important role in reducing cigarette smoking. In the interest of good hygiene, the consumption of beverages or food in nickel exposure areas should be discouraged, with attempts to confine such activity to designated eating areas. Some regulatory bodies have already mandated such practices. Hence, in EU countries, smoking, eating, and drinking are prohibited in areas where there is a risk of contamination by carcinogens.