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2013 Health Hazard Evaluation Program Annual Report
The NIOSH Health Hazard Evaluation (HHE) Program is pleased to share its 2013 annual report with you! Our report includes summaries of projects that were interesting and other highlights of our year. We hope the report stimulates conversations about who the HHE Program is and how we make a difference for the health and safety of employees throughout the United States.
Evaluation of Metals, Solvents, Formaldehyde, Ventilation, and Ergonomic Risks During the Manufacture of Electrical Cable Accessories
The HHE Program received a request from employees at a manufacturer of premolded cable accessories who were concerned about chemical exposures, poor ventilation, and ergonomic risks during rubber molding, plastic extrusion, soldering, and painting. HHE investigators talked to employees about their health and work, reviewed injury and illness logs, looked at work practices and processes, inspected ventilation systems, collected air samples for solvents and air and surface wipes for metals, and evaluated workstations for ergonomic risk factors. Some employees working with irritants and solvents reported eye and upper respiratory symptoms, headaches, and lightheadedness. The HHE investigators found deficiencies in the plant’s ventilation system that included holes in the ductwork, disconnected ducts, and broken dampers. Air levels of chemicals were low except for one toluene air sample on a spray painter. The evaluation noted that many employees had a combination of forceful exertion, repetitive movements, and twisting and bending that put them at risk for musculoskeletal disorders. HHE Program investigators recommended
- Repairing the ventilation system deficiencies
- Providing exhaust ventilation to the drying racks used for painted parts
- Installing a conveyor to help load parts, and use a tool to move parts into the collection bin
To read the full report go to http://www.cdc.gov/niosh/hhe/reports/pdfs/2012-0025-3207.pdf.
Evaluation of Indoor Environmental Quality in a Medical Office Building
The HHE Program received a request from employees at a medical office building. They were concerned about indoor environmental quality and exposure to sewer gas, specifically hydrogen sulfide. The building was surrounded by sewer manholes that had been identified as sources of odors. We measured hydrogen sulfide, carbon dioxide, temperature, and humidity levels throughout the building. The investigators also performed a technical inspection of the building’s heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning system. The investigators found problems with duct dampers, heat pumps, and the computerized control system; outdoor air supplied to each floor was not uniformly distributed; and temperature and humidity were within ANSI/ASHRAE recommended levels. The evaluation found odor sources, such as dry drain traps and manholes, within and near the building. HHE Program investigators recommended
- Fixing the ventilation problems and testing and balancing the system
- Replacing the cast-iron plumbing pipe with polyvinyl chloride pipe
- Creating an employee and employer health and safety committee and holding regular meetings
To read the full report go to http://www.cdc.gov/niosh/hhe/reports/pdfs/2012-0266-3210.pdf.
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