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Health hazard evaluation report: HETA-2006-0307-3139, heat stress and strain evaluation among aluminum potroom employees - Texas.

Dang B; Dowell CH; Mueller C
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 2006-0307-3139, 2011 Aug; :1-29
On July 14, 2006, NIOSH received a request from the United Steelworkers to assess employee exposure to heat while working in the potrooms at an aluminum smelter in Texas. The union was concerned about heat-related illnesses during the hot summer months and the health implications of mandatory overtime. On July 23-27, 2007, we conducted an in-depth heat stress and strain evaluation. We measured potroom employees' HR and CBT throughout the shift. We also measured preshift and postshift serum electrolyte levels and urine specific gravity to assess hydration. After the shift, employees filled out a questionnaire about medical history, work history, and symptoms experienced during the shift on which they were monitored. We measured the WBGT and outdoor weather conditions during the shifts on which employees were monitored. At the time of our evaluation we found that most monitored tasks exceeded the ACGIH TLV and NIOSH ceiling limit for working in a hot environment. The majority of the employees we evaluated met at least one ACGIH criterion for heat strain. Several employees were not sufficiently hydrated, which could have precipitated the onset and increased the intensity of their heat strain. Lack of acclimatization and lower body mass index could have contributed to heat strain in some employees. This report includes recommendations to help reduce the potential for heat-related illnesses in potroom employees. These recommendations include reducing physical demands, installing cooling recovery areas, eliminating 8-hour overtime shifts during extremely hot weather, using heat-reflective PPE, and instituting other administrative controls.
Region-6; Health-hazards; Employee-exposure; Employee-health; Heat; Heat-exposure; Smelters; Smelting; Aluminum-compounds; Exposure-assessment; Exposure-levels; Work-intervals; Work-practices; Heat-stress; Medical-screening; Biological-monitoring; Electrolytes; Urinalysis; Health-surveys; Questionnaires; Outdoors; Exposure-limits; Permissible-limits; Hot-environments; Climatic-factors; Control-methods; Cooling-systems; Work-capacity; Heat-acclimatization; Heat-resistant-materials; Author Keywords: Secondary Smelting & Alloying of Aluminum; heat stress; heat strain; hot work environment; aluminum smelting
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National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health
Page last reviewed: March 18, 2022
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division