Workers Sickened by Methylene Chloride

Oct. 10, 2000
OSHA cited David Peyser Sportswear Inc., Bayshore, N.Y., and\r\nproposed penalties of $122,650 against the firm after workers were\r\nsickened by methylene chloride.

OSHA cited David Peyser Sportswear Inc., Bayshore, N.Y., and proposed penalties of $122,650 against the firm after workers were sickened by methylene chloride.

According to OSHA Area Director Harvey Shapiro, the action resulted from an investigation begun on March 29 after his office was notified by the Long Island Regional Poison Control that several employees had been overcome by vapors.

OSHA compliance officers determined that employees had been using a mixture containing 70 percent methylene chloride and 30 percent perchlorethylene to remove paint from the floor.

Methylene chloride is a widely used industrial solvent that can cause cancer or worsen heart problems for workers exposed to its vapors.

As a result of the exposure, eight employees were taken to local hospitals for treatment.

The company employs about 100 workers at the facility, which is engaged in silk-screen printing of designs on garments.

OSHA alleges that the company willfully violated OSHA standards by failing to provide hand protection resistant to methylene chloride and failing to provide monitoring to determine employee exposure to methylene chloride.

Other citations included:

  • failure to have an emergency response plan;
  • failure to have procedures to contain spills and safely dispose of methylene chloride waste;
  • failure to provide personal washing facilities capable of removing methylene chloride;
  • failure to train employees in the use of personal protective equipment;
  • failure to inform employees of their exposure to methylene chloride in excess of permitted OSHA levels;
  • failure to have a written hazard communication program and have appropriate warning labels of hazardous-chemical containers; and
  • failure to have a lockout/tagout program and the necessary hardware to prevent the accidental start-up of machines during servicing or maintenance.

The firm was also cited for failure to ensure that exits were properly marked with exit signs, and failure to ensure that employees were trained in the safe operation of powered industrial trucks.

by Virginia Sutcliffe

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