Health hazard evaluation report: HETA-2005-0227-3049, Diamond Chain Company, Indianapolis, Indiana.
The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) received a health hazard evaluation (HHE) request from union representatives at Diamond Chain Company, located in Indianapolis, Indiana, on May 4, 2005. The United Steelworkers of America, International Union, made the request because of several complaints of skin rash among manufacturing workers exposed to metalworking fluids (MWFs). In July 2005, NIOSH investigators met with labor and management representatives, conducted a walk-through of the facility, conducted confidential employee interviews, and observed work practices in areas of concern. In August 2005, additional employee interviews were conducted, and bulk samples of used and unused MWFs and biocides from various machines at the plant were obtained for chemical analysis. Dermal exposure to MWFs was observed to be a major route of exposure among Diamond Chain Company employees due to improper work practices, such as adjusting and cleaning the machines without adequate personal protective equipment (PPE). Employee interviews and medical examinations revealed that 11 employees had a history of rash consistent with workplace exposure to MWFs, and six of the 11 had a visible rash consistent with contact dermatitis on the hands and/or forearms at the time of the site visits. The analysis of the bulk MWF samples revealed a complex mixture of chemicals typical of MWFs, including skin irritants and skin allergens. Several water-based MWFs contained formaldehyde, a known skin and respiratory irritant and sensitizer, and a potential human carcinogen. NIOSH investigators concluded that dermal exposure to MWFs, chemical components of the MWFs, and a lack of MWF maintenance caused or contributed to the episodes of contact dermatitis in the Diamond Chain Company workforce. Although the focus of this HHE was skin rash, two interviewed employees reported experiencing respiratory symptoms that might be related to MWF exposure. Recommendations are provided to establish a comprehensive MWF maintenance program; monitor and follow-up reported work-related health problems with a physician knowledgeable in occupational diseases; provide worker training in MWF hazards, personal protective equipment (PPE) use, and skin care; and consider substituting current MWFs and biocides with those that contain less irritating and sensitizing components.
Region-5; Hazard-Unconfirmed; Metalworking-fluids; Metalworking; Metalworking-industry; Dermatitis; Dermatosis; Skin-disorders; Skin-exposure; Skin-irritants; Skin-protection; Personal-protective-equipment; Personal-protection; Protective-clothing; Protective-equipment; Protective-measures; Contact-dermatitis; Respiratory-irritants