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Health hazard evaluation report: evaluation of dermatitis among sanders in a furniture manufacturing plant.

Tapp-LC; Burton-NC
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 2011-0180-3193, 2013 Oct; :1-21
Health Hazard Evaluation (HHE) Program investigators evaluated sanding department exposures and rashes among employees at a furniture manufacturing company in North Carolina. The employer became concerned after two sanders had severe skin reactions at work and were unable to continue work in the area. In November 2011, HHE investigators toured the facility, observed work processes and practices, and reviewed the company's material safety data sheets for the epoxies and other chemicals used in the sanding department. They assessed ventilation in the work area using smoke tubes to observe air flow patterns, collected personal air samples for volatile organic compounds (VOCs), surface wipe samples for bisphenol A and diglycidyl ether of bisphenol A (DGEBA) (epoxy components), and surface samples for metals and minerals. They interviewed 18 employees confidentially and reviewed employee medical records and OSHA 300 Logs. The sanders' downdraft tables were ineffective in controlling dust while employees sanded large frames. Compressed air was used to clean off the chairs, which increased the airborne dust levels in the sanding department. The wipe samples of work surfaces in the sanding department found low levels of DGEBA, indicating that employees had potential for skin contact with this epoxy resin component. They found low levels of metals and minerals in surface wipe samples and low concentrations of airborne VOCs. Eight of the 18 interviewed employees, all sanders or prior sanders, reported current or recent skin rash that began within 2 years of our site visit and that they associated with work. Five employees had visible skin rash. A few employees reported upper respiratory symptoms and one employee reported asthma symptoms. Employees reported using a much larger amount of epoxy than they did 2 years prior to our visit because they began plugging furniture screw holes with epoxy instead of wood plugs. Employees reported using their fingers to mix the epoxies because of their thick consistency. The company began requiring employees to wear gloves while working with epoxy about a month prior to the site visit. Medical record review of four employees revealed that one employee had been diagnosed with work-related allergic contact dermatitis after skin patch testing showed an allergic skin reaction to bisphenol A; the other three were diagnosed with contact dermatitis. Skin contact with epoxy resin may cause allergic contact dermatitis and occupational asthma. The increased use of epoxy 18 months before the site visit, insufficient dust control during sanding, and lack of skin protection likely played a role in the development of dermatitis among sanders. HHE investigators recommended the employer reduce epoxy resin exposures by using a dispensing gun to apply the epoxies, adding local exhaust ventilation to the hand-held sanders to control dust, and educating employees on the hazards of epoxy exposure and the need for work practices to prevent skin exposures to epoxy resins, including appropriate glove use. They encouraged employees to report work-related skin rashes and respiratory symptoms as early as possible and those with persistent symptoms were advised to be evaluated by an occupational medicine physician.
Region-4; Furniture-industry; Furniture-manufacture; Furniture-repair; Furniture-workers; Exposure-assessment; Employee-exposure; Skin-absorption; Skin-exposure; Skin-irritants; Skin-lesions; Dermatitis; Contact-allergies; Contact-dermatitis; Allergic-dermatitis; Allergic-reactions; Skin-sensitivity; Epoxy-compounds; Epoxy-resins; Volatiles; Organic-compounds; Glycidyl-ethers; Phenolic-compounds; Phenols; Industrial-processes; Industrial-dust; Machine-tools; Air-sampling; Sampling; Metal-dusts; Mineral-dusts; Work-practices; Personal-protective-equipment; Gloves; Respiratory-system-disorders; Bronchial-asthma; Author Keywords: Upholstered Household Furniture Manufacturing; epoxy resins; volatile organic compounds; diglycidyl ether of bisphenol A; DGEBA; sanding; skin rashes; allergic contact dermatitis
Publication Date
Document Type
Field Studies; Hazard Evaluation and Technical Assistance
Fiscal Year
Identifying No.
HETA-2011-0180-3193; M112013
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