Health hazard evaluation report: HETA-2007-0144-3087, evaluation of carbon monoxide exposure among airport cargo material handlers, U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Transportation Security Administration, Erlanger, Kentucky.
In February 2007, NIOSH received a request from TSA management at the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport to conduct an HHE at the Delta Air Logistics warehouse in Hebron, Kentucky. The request concerned potential exposure to emissions from forklifts used in the warehouse. The request indicated that some employees had experienced health problems, including headaches and nausea, possibly related to the work environment. Although the request was received from TSA, the workspace was shared by employees from TSA, Delta Air Logistics, and Airport Terminal Services (under the supervision of Delta Air Logistics). Employees from all three companies were evaluated. On March 1, 2007, we held an opening conference with TSA and Delta Air Logistics management and a TSA employee representative. The meeting included an overview of the NIOSH HHE program, a review of the issues that prompted the HHE request, and a discussion of the scope of the evaluation. After the meeting, a walk-through of the warehouse was conducted to learn about exposures and observe work practices. On March 8, 2007, PBZ air measurements were taken for CO, and biological measurements were taken for COHb. We found that all Airport Terminal Services employees' CO levels exceeded the ACGIH TLV, and one exceeded the NIOSH REL. None of the TSA or Delta Air Logistics employees exceeded any OELs for CO. None of the employees participating in this evaluation had COHb levels that exceeded the ACGIH BEI or were above normal reference ranges. Recommendations are provided to eliminate or reduce CO exposure in the warehouse. The preferred recommendation is to replace all fuel-driven forklifts with electric forklifts because this will remove the CO hazard. If this is not feasible, engineering and administrative controls are recommended. These include adjusting the ventilation in the warehouse, offices, and planned TSA addition; installing catalytic convertors on the fuel-driven forklifts and tugs; improving preventive maintenance, including periodic emission testing of the forklifts and tugs; turning off vehicles while at the loading docks; installing CO alarms; developing a hazard communication program; and monitoring CO periodically.