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Health hazard evaluation report: HETA-2010-0175-3144, confined space program recommendations for dairy plant inspectors - nationwide.

Ceballos DM; 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 2010-0175-3144, 2011 Nov; :1-15
NIOSH investigators evaluated a federal agency's confined space program for equipment inspectors in dairy plants on March 1-2, 2011, after receiving a request from the agency's health and safety manager. The requestor was concerned with potential exposures to oxygen-deficient atmospheres and off-gassing of cleaning and disinfection products during equipment sanitation surveys in dairy plants. No health concerns were specifically reported. We toured one dairy plant on March 1, 2011, to learn about dairy plant processes and equipment. We evaluated typical procedures during an equipment sanitation survey on March 2, 2011, at a second dairy plant. We also reviewed the agency's draft written confined space program and interviewed equipment inspectors about their confined space practices and work-related health and safety concerns. We learned that dairy plants within the United States are increasing in size, which usually means more confined spaces in a plant. We observed six partial permit-required confined space entries (head and arm/hand into a vessel manhole for less than a minute) by an equipment inspector. We also observed several inspected pieces of equipment that were not confined spaces. The equipment inspector was accompanied at all times by plant personnel and usually wore a lab coat, safety glasses, hearing protection, bump cap, and a hair net, and used a high-intensity portable flashlight. We found the agency's draft confined space program hard to understand because much of it was written using legal jargon. Also, the program was not specific to the dairy industry and did not include rescue procedures in case of an emergency during an equipment sanitation survey. Our interviews with equipment inspectors revealed that they routinely entered permit-required confined spaces during equipment sanitation surveys but were not always familiar with the permit-required confined space and rescue procedures of the dairy plants. Although equipment inspectors usually wore the PPE required by the dairy plant they were inspecting, we observed instances where equipment inspectors did not follow all of the plant's requirements (for example, not wearing safety glasses or a bump cap when entering a confined space). We recommend that the equipment inspectors obtain information about the plant's permit-required confined spaces before visiting a dairy plant. This may include, but is not limited to, a copy of the plant's written confined space entry program, recent calibration of the plant's confined space air monitoring equipment, and information on confined space emergency and rescue plans. We recommend that the agency tailor its confined space program to the equipment and hazards found in the dairy industry, including rescue procedures. The agency should provide equipment inspectors with adequate PPE, calibrated air monitors, and yearly training in confined space entry specific to the dairy industry. Equipment inspectors should follow plant PPE requirements and permit-required confined space procedures during equipment sanitation surveys. We recommend that equipment inspectors use a bump cap with a chin strap, safety glasses, and intrinsically safe flashlights. Inspectors should also have lockout/tagout locks and full-body harnesses.
Confined-spaces; Agriculture; Agricultural-workers; Animal-products-workers; Oxygen-deficient-atmospheres; Agricultural-machinery; Equipment-operators; Dairy-products; Chemical-cleaning; Cleaning-compounds; Gas-mixtures; Gases; Safety-measures; Sanitation; Disinfectants; Agricultural-processes; Air-quality-monitoring; Personal-protective-equipment; Emergency-response; Regulations; Rescue-measures; Machine-operation; Author Keywords: Regulation of Agricultural Marketing and Commodities; confined space; chlorine; survey; dairy products; oxygen deficiency; cleaning products; disinfection products; mechanical hazards
Publication Date
Document Type
Field Studies; Hazard Evaluation and Technical Assistance
Fiscal Year
NTIS Accession No.
NTIS Price
Identifying No.
HETA-2010-0175-3144; B11232011
NIOSH Division
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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