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A Strategy to Validate Work Practices: An Application to the Reinforced Plastics Industry.

Conard RJ; Hopkins BL; Fitch HG; Smith MJ; Anger WK; Dangel RF
NIOSH 1981 Mar:118-151
A strategy designed to control exposures to toxic substances by altering work practices was described. The strategy was based on applying techniques of behavioral science to safety problems. It involved evaluating appropriate work practices (behaviors), measuring the associated hazards (exposures), and altering the behaviors in such a way to reduce the exposures. The technique was applied to workers exposed to styrene (100425) in the reinforced plastics industry. Four employees (the gel coat sprayer, the resin chop sprayer, the rollout person, and a mold repair person) at a factory that produced reinforced plastic laboratory equipment were trained to use several work practice behaviors that were considered likely to reduce their exposures to styrene. These consisted of using appropriate personal protection, avoiding high exposure areas when not necessary for production, and utilizing existing engineering controls. Styrene exposures were determined by measuring breathing zone concentrations and analyzing urine samples for mandelic-acid (90642). The work practice behaviors changed as desired except in a few instances. The exceptions included several practices that were already considered to be at acceptable levels, such as the chop sprayer spraying toward himself and turning on the booth exhaust. The chop sprayer did not wear a respirator while working with resin, even though this was considered a highly desirable behavior. Decreases in breathing zone styrene exposures up to 57 percent occurred as a result of the new work practice behaviors. Urine mandelic-acid concentrations were reduced in the gel coat sprayer and rollout person. The authors conclude that the behavior training techniques are sufficient to cause the desired changes in most of the work practices. These changes were associated with significant reductions in exposure to styrene vapor.
NIOSH-Author; Work-practices; Occupational-exposure; Industrial-hygiene; Plastics-industry; Industrial-education; Aromatic-hydrocarbons; Personal-protection; Protective-measures;
100-42-5; 90-64-2;
Publication Date
Document Type
Conference/Symposia Proceedings;
Fiscal Year
Source Name
Symposium on Control of Workplace Hazards in the Chemical Manufacturing Industry, March 11-12, 1981, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, NIOSH, Cincinnati, Ohio
Page last reviewed: February 11, 2022
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division