NIOSHTIC-2 Publications Search

Health hazard evaluation report: HETA-2010-0031-3130, evaluation of chemical hazards and noise exposures at a drum refurbishing plant - Indiana.

Fent-KW; Page-E; Brueck-SE
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, HETA 2010-0031-3130, 2011 Jun; :1-27
In December 2009 NIOSH received a confidential employee request for an HHE at a drum refurbishing plant in Indiana. The requestors reported respiratory irritation, chemical burns, and headaches from exposure to chemicals present in the drums. They were also concerned about noise exposure. In response to this HHE request, we conducted evaluations on February 2, 2010, and March 22-23, 2010. We interviewed employees during our first visit. We asked them about their job history, personal medical history, and if they had any symptoms or health concerns related to their work. We reviewed the OSHA 300 Logs of Work-related Injuries and Illnesses for the years 2006 to 2009 and emergency room records for one employee who reported seeking care after exposure to chemicals on the job. During our second visit, we conducted PBZ sampling for VOCs, aromatic hydrocarbons, and sodium hydroxide. We measured full-shift TWA personal noise exposures. We measured sound levels and conducted one-third octave band frequency analysis from 12.5 Hz to 20,000 Hz throughout production areas of the plant. Of the 21 employees we interviewed, only four reported symptoms they believed were related to work. Two of these employees reported headaches, two reported eye irritation, one reported dizziness, and one reported sinus infections. The OSHA Logs documented one employee with an STS in an audiogram in 2009, one employee with burning eyes in 2007, and four employees with chemical burns in 2006. One employee sought emergency room care for cough and chest pain after breathing in chemicals at work and was treated with a bronchodilator and released with an inhaler to use for shortness of breath. All aromatic hydrocarbon exposures were below applicable OELs except one PBZ concentration of trimethyl benzene (150 mg/m3) that exceeded the NIOSH REL and ACGIH TLV of 125 mg/m3. This PBZ sample was from a tote wash department employee who wiped the exterior of the totes with Aromatic 100. No sodium hydroxide was detected (MDC 0.04 mg/m3) in any of the samples. PVC gloves with a cotton lining were provided to the employees but are not protective against Aromatic 100. Half-mask N95 filtering facepiece respirators were available to employees for voluntary use. However, we observed employees who were improperly wearing and maintaining these respirators. Some employees believed that these respirators protected them against vapors and gases; however, these respirators are only effective against particles. All personal noise exposure measurements exceeded the NIOSH REL and the OSHA AL of 85 dBA for an 8-hour work shift. Noise exposures for employees loading drums, wiping exteriors of drums with Dissolve II, pressure washing drums and totes, emptying and vacuuming drums, and removing labels from totes all exceeded the OSHA PEL of 90 dBA. The drum and tote pressure washers had TWA noise exposures above 100 dBA. We recommended substituting Aromatic 100 with a less hazardous solvent for cleaning the outside of the totes and drums and adding local exhaust ventilation where drums and totes are being emptied and cleaned. Installation of an exhaust hood over drums used to collect residual waste emptied from the totes would remove any potentially hazardous chemicals that evaporate from the drums. We also recommended partially enclosing or installing barrier walls in the noisiest areas of the plant to reduce noise levels in the adjacent work areas. The company should require dual hearing protection (earplugs and earmuffs) for the employees who pressure wash drums and totes until TWA noise exposures are reduced to below 100 dBA. We advised the company to conduct a comprehensive hazard assessment to facilitate the selection of PPE as required by OSHA [29 CFR 1910.132]. Once this assessment is complete, employees need to be retrained on how to properly wear and maintain PPE, including hearing protection, gloves, sleeve covers, and safety glasses.
Respiratory-irritants; Chemical-burns; Noise-exposure; Hydrocarbons; Volatiles; Noise-induced-hearing-loss; Noise-levels; Noise-control; Noise-shielding; Hearing-conservation; Hearing-disorders; Hearing-impairment; Hearing-loss; Hearing-protection; Personal-protection; Personal-protective-equipment; Protective-equipment; Protective-clothing; Eye-protection; Eye-shields; Training; Author Keywords: Industrial Supplies Merchant and Wholesalers; drum refurbishing; noise; chemicals; trimethyl benzene
Publication Date
Document Type
Field Studies; Hazard Evaluation and Technical Assistance
Fiscal Year
NTIS Accession No.
NTIS Price
Identifying No.
NIOSH Division
Priority Area
SIC Code
Source Name
National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health
Page last reviewed: September 2, 2020
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division