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Notices to Readers NIOSH Alerts on Workplace Hazards:Exposure to Chlorofluorocarbon 113 and Electrocution of Workers Using Portable Metal Ladders Near Overhead Power Lines

CDC's National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) recently published two new Alerts* on workplace hazards that cause death and serious injury to workers. The topics of the Alerts are prevention of death from excessive exposure to chlorofluorocarbon 113 (CFC-113) (1) and prevention of electrocutions of workers using portable metal ladders near overhead power lines (2).

Request for Assistance in Preventing Death from Excessive Exposure to Chlorofluorocarbon 113 (CFC-113) (1). Workers exposed to CFC-113 or other chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) in confined spaces or areas with insufficient ventilation are at risk of death from cardiac arrhythmia or asphyxiation. The chemical name for CFC-113 is 1,1,2-trichloro-1,2,2-trifluoroethane, but it is also known by trade names** such as Freon 113, Genetron 113, Halocarbon 113, or Refrigerant 113. CFCs are most commonly used as refrigerants, propellants, degreasers, fire extinguishers, deicers, agents for cleaning electronic equipment, and agents for preparing frozen tissue for histopathologic examination. According to the 1977 National Occupational Hazard Survey by NIOSH, an estimated 300,000 workers are potentially exposed to CFC-113.

This Alert describes 12 worker deaths since 1983 that resulted from exposure to CFC-113 in confined spaces or areas with insufficient ventilation. All deaths were attributed to cardiac arrhythmia, asphyxiation, or both. The 12 workers were apparently unaware that CFC-113 might generate vapor concentrations sufficient to cause death.

The Alert provides six recommendations for controlling CFC-113 and other CFCs in the workplace: hazard awareness, training, engineering controls, hazards in confined spaces, medical considerations, and personal protection equipment. Editors of appropriate trade journals, members of health and safety organizations, and others responsible for the safety and health of workers who use CFC-113 or other CFCs are requested to bring these recommendations to the attention of those who use these products and those who supervise the use of these products. Adherence to the recommendations should reduce the risk to these workers.

Request for Assistance in Preventing Electrocutions of Workers Using Portable Metal Ladders Near Overhead Power Lines (2). Contact between portable metal ladders and overhead power lines causes serious and often fatal injuries to workers in the United States. During 1980-1985, 4% of all work-related electrocutions resulted from metal ladders contacting overhead power lines. This Alert describes six deaths that occurred because portable aluminum ladders, which are electrical conductors, contacted energized overhead power lines. If nonconductive ladders had been used, or if safe working clearances had been maintained, these deaths might have been prevented.

Portable metal ladders are widely used in many industries, and specific Occupational Safety and Health Administration regulations govern their use. These regulations should be implemented and enforced by every employer, manager, supervisor, and worker in operations that use portable metal ladders. Trade journal editors, safety and health officials, and other persons (especially those in the construction trades) are requested to bring the recommendations in this Alert to the attention of contractors and workers. Reported by: Div of Standards Development and Technology Transfer, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, CDC.

References

  1. NIOSH. NIOSH alert: request for assistance in preventing death from excessive exposure to chlorofluorocarbon 113 (CFC-113). Cincinnati, Ohio: US Department of Heath and Human Services, Public Health Service, CDC, 1989; DHHS publication no. (NIOSH)89-109.

  2. NIOSH. NIOSH alert: request for assistance in preventing electrocutions of workers using portable metal ladders near overhead power lines. Cincinnati, Ohio: US Department of Heath and Human Services, Public Health Service, CDC, 1989; DHHS publication no. (NIOSH)89-110. *Single copies are available without charge from the Information Dissemination Section, DSDTT, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, CDC, 4676 Columbia Parkway, Cincinnati, Ohio 45226; telephone (513) 533-8287. **Use of trade names is for identification only and does not imply endorsement by the Public Health Service or the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Disclaimer   All MMWR HTML documents published before January 1993 are electronic conversions from ASCII text into HTML. This conversion may have resulted in character translation or format errors in the HTML version. Users should not rely on this HTML document, but are referred to the original MMWR paper copy for the official text, figures, and tables. An original paper copy of this issue can be obtained from the Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government Printing Office (GPO), Washington, DC 20402-9371; telephone: (202) 512-1800. Contact GPO for current prices.

**Questions or messages regarding errors in formatting should be addressed to mmwrq@cdc.gov.

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