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Respirator use and practices in lumber and wood products manufacturing establishments: results of a national survey of private sector employers.

Doney B; Greskevitch M; Groce D; Syamlal G; Bang KM
GLTPA 2008 Dec; (12):46-50
Approximately 5.3% or an estimated 1,897 establishments in the Lumber and Wood Products manufacturing industry used respirators for required purposes in 2001. This percentage (5.3%) was slightly higher than the percentage of establishments with respirator use in All Private Industry (4.5%). Among the types of respirators used, dust masks were used in 66.5% (1,261 of 1,897) of the Lumber and Wood Products respirator-using establishments compared to 71.3% (200,995 of 281,776) of All Private Industry establishments. Also, employees in Lumber and Wood Products were as likely to use respirators as were All Private Industry employees as a whole (both 3.1%). Operations in the Lumber and Wood Products industry (e.g., logging, sawmill work, planing, cabinet making, sanding, staining, painting and applying urethane coatings) can result in exposures to airborne contaminants and agents. For example, workers in this industry may be exposed to isocyanates, formaldehyde, and paint vapors from formaldehyde resins in making particleboard, coating and painting, and wood dusts from sawing, planing, and sanding. Exposure to wood dust and isocyanates can cause asthma. While the survey design does not allow determination of particular substances that prompted respirator use within the Lumber and Wood Products industry, results of the survey provide such information for its parent industry, Manufacturing. There, dust, paint vapors, solvents, welding fumes, and silica dust were the substances for which respirators were most frequently used. Dust (includes wood dust), paint vapors, solvents, welding fumes, and silica dust are found in the Lumber and Wood Products industry. For example, paint vapors and solvents are emitted during process such as painting particle board that will be used for furniture and welding fumes are emitted during equipment repair. Also, a NIOSH exposure survey from 1981-1983 estimated that 34,000 workers were exposed to silica dust and 120,000 exposed to sawdust in the Lumber and Wood Products industry. Silica expose can result from sanding and from maintenance operations. Of the respirator-using Lumber and Wood Products establishments, 60%, or an estimated 1,143 establishments, had three or more indicators of a potentially inadequate respiratory protection program as measured against OSHA respirator program requirements and NIOSH recommendations listed in the previous section. OSHA recognized the problem with improper respirator use in this industry. From October 2005 through September 2006, OSHA conducted 100 inspections among Lumber and Wood Products establishments and issued 208 citations for respiratory protection. The survey findings are subject to some limitations. Public sector, self-employed, and agriculture establishments with less than 11 workers were not included in the survey. Although the instructions stated that the person most familiar with respiratory protection should complete the questionnaire, this may not have always happened. In spite of the cognitive and field testing of the survey at small, medium, and large establishments prior to its mailing, recipients may have misinterpreted the written questions. The survey was not designed to collect exposure information specifically for Lumber and Wood Products, though it did collect such information for the broader industry category of Manufacturing.
Respirators; Respiratory-protective-equipment; Respiratory-protection; Lumber-industry; Lumber-industry-workers; Lumberjacks; Behavior-patterns; Woodworking-industry; Woodworking; Woodworkers; Questionnaires; Sawmill-workers; Dusts; Dust-masks; Painting; Paint-spraying; Solvents; Silica-dusts; Surveillance
50-00-0; 14808-60-7
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Journal Article
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Great Lakes TPA
Page last reviewed: September 2, 2020
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division