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Occupational health and industrial hygiene considerations related to cases of histoplasmosis among workers at a corn processing facility.

King B; Burr G
American Industrial Hygiene Conference and Exposition, May 21-26, 2005, Anaheim, California. Fairfax, VA: American Industrial Hygiene Association, 2005 May; :58
CDC received a request from the Nebraska Health and Human Services System to conduct an investigation of possible cases of histoplasmosis among the employees at a 650-acre corn processing facility in rural Nebraska in February 2004. A site visit was made to address concerns that a second outbreak of histoplasmosis was occurring among the employees at the worksite, following one that had occurred in August 2003 in which 43 clinically or laboratory-confirmed cases were identified. In that outbreak, soil excavated for pipe repair in an area of the facility associated with a large accumulation of bird droppings was a likely cause of aerosolization of H. capsulatum spores and thus, the possible site of the employees' exposures. CDC/NIOSH representatives participated in the February 2004 investigation by addressing industrial hygiene and occupational health-related issues. This included providing guidance to the company to identify worker activities which may be at higher risk for exposure, the proper use of personal protective equipment (PPE) required for these activities, and recommendations for preventing future outbreaks. CDC/NIOSH representatives conducted a walk-through of facilities to identify accumulations of bird droppings and discuss job activities and protocols with employees at these locations. We met with the health and safety managers to review a draft plan developed to characterize activities regarding the risk for exposure to H. capsulatum spores, and the corresponding PPE that would be required. We also reviewed the adequacy of the written respiratory protection program. Recommendations provided to the company included proper employee training regarding the hazard and the company's policies on the selection of PPE (particularly respiratory protection) for work categorized as higher/lower/minimal risk; excluding birds from entry to buildings by sealing all entry points; updating their written respiratory protection program; and ensuring proper maintenance of building and ventilation systems.
Occupational-health; Industrial-hygiene; Workers; Work-environment; Worker-health; Occupational-exposure; Risk-analysis; Risk-factors; Exposure-levels; Health-hazards; Respiratory-protection; Ventilation-systems; Respiratory-system-disorders; Pulmonary-system-disorders; Microorganisms; Personal-protective-equipment; Agricultural-industry; Agricultural-products
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American Industrial Hygiene Conference and Exposition, May 21-26, 2005, Anaheim, California
Page last reviewed: September 2, 2020
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division