Health hazard evaluation report: HETA-2003-0080-2905, Norwin Middle School East, North Huntington, Pennsylvania.
On November 27, 2002, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) received a request to conduct a health hazard evaluation (HHE) at Norwin Middle School East in North Huntington, Pennsylvania. The request stated employees were concerned that the dust collector used in the wood shop was not working properly, thus potentially exposing teachers in adjacent classrooms to wood dust. Health concerns included sinus infections, coughing, sneezing, sore throat, and eye irritation. On February 24-25, 2003, NIOSH industrial hygienists conducted an HHE at Norwin Middle School East. Following an opening conference and walkthrough tour of the wood shop, NIOSH investigators evaluated the wood shop ventilation system and the dust collector using a smoke machine. The next day, air monitoring was conducted for total dust in the wood shop and in two classrooms. The local exhaust ventilation (LEV) system in the wood shop was also evaluated. In addition, confidential interviews were conducted with teachers concerning their health and work environment. Seven area air samples for total dust were collected. The locations of the samples included the sanding table and the band saw in the wood shop, and in classrooms 204 and 208 on the third floor of the school building. Classroom 208 is located above the wood shop, while classroom 204 is located in a hallway adjacent to 208. Personal breathing zone samples were collected from the wood shop teacher for total and inhalable dust. Sampling was conducted for the entire work day, which included six wood shop classes. Air sampling results indicated that exposures to wood dust were below established occupational exposure limits on the day of the NIOSH survey. With the exception of the canopy hood, ventilation measurements indicated that the LEV and the dust collector were within recommended operating standards for dust removal. To be effective, the canopy hood should be enclosed on three sides, allowing for visibility from the front. The LEV system should be on whenever equipment is used in the wood shop. An emphasis should be placed on working as close to the inlet as safely possible without compromising any guards in order to capture the maximum amount of wood dust. Concerns expressed by teachers related to poor general housekeeping and poor communication between employees and management. Recommendations in the report address these issues.