Item 8: Hazardous biological or chemical agents
Overview of Item 8
A PSR is required for Item 8 when a new or modified process uses or produces a hazardous biological or chemical agent and uses a ventilation system to limit the exposure of a worker in accordance with any exposure limit set out the Control of Exposure to Biological or Chemical Agents Regulation (Reg. 833) made under the OHSA. The purpose of the PSR is to review the ability of the ventilation system to control the exposure to the biological or chemical agents.
Sections 127 and 128 are the applicable provisions of the Industrial Establishments Regulation and set out requirements for ventilation and replacement air. The factory must be adequately ventilated by either natural or mechanical means, so the atmosphere does not endanger the health and safety of workers. In addition, replacement air must meet the requirements set out in section 128 and the discharge of air from any exhaust system must not return contaminants into the factory.
Out of scope
A PSR for Item 8 is not required:
- For general workplace heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems that have been designed for general occupant and worker comfort and not for process control. These ventilation systems will have been designed to meet the Ontario Building Code.
- When a process for which a PSR was conducted has not changed. If there is a modification only to the ventilation system and/or its components, these changes must be reviewed by a person with the appropriate knowledge, skill and experience to ensure that the level of process safety to protect workers from exposure is maintained or exceeded. A hygiene assessment, including monitoring, should also be conducted and records kept confirming that workers continue to be protected from the hazardous biological or chemical agents.
PSR for Item 8
A PSR for Item 8 must include details of the measures required to comply with sections 127 and 128 of the Industrial Establishments Regulation and ensure that a worker is not exposed to a biological or chemical agent in excess of the occupational exposure limits (OELs) set out in the Control of Exposure to Biological or Chemical Agents Regulation (Reg. 833). This should include both:
- A review of the ventilation system, including exhaust velocity, flow rate and filter change.
- Hygiene testing and record keeping ensuring that worker exposure to a biological or chemical agent is controlled by the ventilation system.
The employer is required to comply with section 11 of the OHSA with respect to industrial hygiene testing in the workplace.
The following code, guides and references may be used by the reviewer conducting the PSR to determine compliance or measures to be taken to achieve compliance for Item 8:
- Ontario Building Code (O. Reg. 332/12) under the Building Code Act, 1992
- Patty’s Industrial Hygiene and Toxicology, published by John Wiley & Sons
- Industrial Ventilation: A Manual of Recommended Practice for Design, published by the American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists (ACGIH)
- American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) handbooks
Reviewer for a PSR for Item 8
A reviewer for Item 8 must be an engineer or person with special, expert or professional knowledge or qualifications such as a Registered Occupational Hygienist (ROH) or a Certified Industrial Hygienist (CIH).
Exemptions for Item 8
A PSR does not need to be carried out on a portable device that extracts smoke, fumes or other substances and that does not exhaust to the outdoors. An example would be a ‘smoke hog’ used to capture welding fumes.
The employer, however, must still ensure the portable device is appropriate for use in the circumstances, and does not return contaminants to the workplace air. See subsection 128(3) of the Industrial Establishments Regulation for details. The employer must also comply with all the requirements of the Control of Exposure to Biological or Chemical Agents Regulation (Reg. 833).
Documents for establishing an exemption
There are no standards that can be used for an exemption from a PSR for Item 8.
To establish an exemption for Item 8, the following documents would be acceptable:
- a copy of the manufacturer’s manual that sets out the specifications for the product, required maintenance and how to safely use the device
- maintenance records for the portable exhaust device and
- records of hygiene testing ensuring that worker exposure to a biological or chemical agent is controlled by the portable exhaust device