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The Massachusetts Hospital EtO Health and Safety Study: a summary report for study participants and supporters.

LaMontagne AD
The Massachusetts Hospital EtO Health and Safety Study: A Summary Report for Study Participants and Supporters, 1996, Massachusetts 1996 Jan; :1-44
A study was conducted examining hospital compliance with the ethylene-oxide (75218) (EtO) health standards passed by OSHA in 1984. Hospitals in the state of Massachusetts were sent surveys in 1993 regarding implementation of the exposure monitoring, training, and medical surveillance requirements of the 1984 standards, and on site surveys were conducted. Ninety eight percent of the 92 hospitals studied had some form of EtO health and safety training in place in 1993 for workers performing sterilization duties; only 58% had such training in place by the end of 1985, as required by the standards. Most of the training programs took place on a regular basis, and over half also provided EtO training for maintenance workers. By 1993, 95% of the hospitals had performed personal exposure monitoring for the recommended action level (AL) and 87% for the exposure limit (EL); 66% had installed EtO alarms as required by the standard. Twenty three percent of the facilities surveyed reported having exceeded the AL at least once between 1990 and 1992 and 24% reported having exceeded the EL. Over 60% of the hospitals using EtO provided medical surveillance for exposure between 1985 and 1993; of these, 65% performed all five required surveillance procedures. EtO related symptoms or conditions were identified in 27% of the facilities. Providing EtO surveillance was related to only accidental worker exposures, only one of the five of OSHA specified triggers for providing such surveillance. The author concludes that, although there are problems with the implementation of the required OSHA standards for EtO, medical surveillance of EtO appears to be identifying and managing EtO related illness.
NIOSH-Grant; Grants-other; Ethylenes; Oxides; Health-standards; Occupational-exposure; Health-care-personnel; Surveillance-programs
Environmental Health Harvard Sch of Public Hlth 665 Huntington Ave Boston, MA 02115
Publication Date
Document Type
Final Grant Report
Funding Amount
Funding Type
Fiscal Year
Identifying No.
NIOSH Division
Priority Area
Other Occupational Concerns; Grants-other;
Source Name
The Massachusetts Hospital EtO Health and Safety Study: A Summary Report for Study Participants and Supporters, 1996, Massachusetts
Performing Organization
Harvard University, Boston, Massachusetts
Page last reviewed: April 8, 2022
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division