A Maintenance Worker Dies from Exposure to Dichloromethane
California Case Report: 12CA002
A maintenance worker died while using a paint stripper, which contained dichloromethane (methylene chloride), to strip the floor of a baptismal font within a church. The maintenance worker (victim) poured an unknown amount of the paint stripper (up to one gallon) over the steps and floor of the baptismal font and spread it around using a push broom. With the windows and doors open, he then left the area to allow the stripper to work into the surface. He was found later that evening lying face down on the baptismal font floor with the doors and windows closed. The victim was wearing an unknown type of glove and was not wearing any other personal protective equipment. There was no local or general exhaust ventilation in place to prevent harmful exposure. Contributing factors identified in this investigation were the use of a paint stripper containing methylene chloride, an enclosed workspace with poor ventilation, and incomplete implementation of a hazard communication program.