HHE Report No. HETA-86-206-1744, Rotorex, Walkersville, Maryland.
In response to a labor/management request, an evaluation was made of sudden illness in workers at the Rotorex (SIC-3580) facility in Walkersville, Maryland, employing about 350 workers. The facility had been closed after an explosion on January 29, 1986, due to a malfunctioning boiler regulator valve. After reopening on February 3, and ten employees became ill with headaches, nausea, dizziness, and chest pain. Eight were tested for carbon-monoxide (630080) (CO) blood levels; five had elevated carboxyhemoglobin (COHb) levels. Fifteen workers were seen by the company nurse from February 4 to 18, and 14 returned to work. Five blood samples showed elevated COHb, but results were later considered inaccurate. Another outbreak occurred on February 19, with 18 employees removed by stretcher. Tests for CO, trichloroethylene (79016) (TCE), fluorocarbons, and methylene-chloride (75092) exposure were negative. The authors conclude that illness on February 3 was due to combined CO and TCE exposures; illness on February 19 was an anxiety reaction. It is recommended that a joint management/union health and safety committee be formed that meets regularly, with easy employee access. Development of evacuation procedures, evaluation of ventilation systems, study of welding and brazing operations for hazardous substances, determination of oil mist levels, weekly bacterial check of central coolant, evaluation of Freon-11 use in open cans, study of noise exposure, and replacement of a welding curtain are additional recommendations.
Hazard Evaluations and Technical Assistance Branch, NIOSH, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Cincinnati, Ohio, Report No. HETA-86-206-1744, 41 pages, 11 references