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A story of impact: NIOSH-funded program contributes to a new Massachusetts law to protect the health and safety of floor finishing worker.

Cincinnati, OH: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Public Health Service, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, DHHS (NIOSH) Publication No. 2011-181, 2011 Jun; :1-2
Wood floor sanding and finishing can be hazardous to workers and building occupants. In Boston, Massachusetts (MA) more than 25 fires were directly attributed to wood floor installation and refinishing from 1995-2004. In 2004 and 2005, the MA Fatality Assessment and Control Evaluation (MA FACE) program-funded by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH)-investigated two incidents in which a total of three Vietnamese floor finishing workers died when the flammable lacquer sealer they were using caught fire. The floor finishing industry in MA is largely dominated by the immigrant Vietnamese community. Alarmed by these deaths, the MA Coalition for Occupational Safety and Health (MassCOSH) mobilized a statewide task force to develop solutions to fire and health hazards associated with floor refinishing. The Task Force included representatives from the Dorchester Occupational Health Initiative (DOHI), the Vietnamese-American Initiative for Development (VIET-AID), labor unions, product distributors, floor finishing companies, and community organizations. Government agency staff served as advisors. At the time of these fires, DOHI - a project funded by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences - was working in Dorchester, Massachusetts to conduct outreach and educational efforts to improve the environmental and occupational health of Vietnamese-American floor finishers and other groups, and thus was able to quickly mobilize a response, release recommendations, and access this community.
Construction; Construction-materials; Floors; Flammable-liquids; Fire-hazards; Fire-prevention; Walking-surfaces; Wood; Wood-products; Mortality-data; Regulations; Racial-factors; Sealing-compounds; Construction-workers; Region-1; Fire-fighting; Fire-safety; Chemical-reactions
Publication Date
Document Type
Numbered Publication; Impact Sheet
Fiscal Year
Identifying No.
DHHS (NIOSH) Publication No. 2011-181
NIOSH Division
Source Name
National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health
Page last reviewed: February 18, 2022
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division