The characterization of airborne occupational safety and health hazards in selected small businesses; manufacturing wood pallets.
Researchers from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) investigated occupational safety and health concerns in the small business wood pallet manufacturing industry because of an injury rate (2000) 226% greater than that for general industry. NIOSH investigators conducted walk-through evaluations at seven wood pallet manufacturing companies, and returned to four of them to take environmental measurements. Carbon monoxide (CO) levels, noise levels, and total particulate were measured, ergonomic observations made, and occupational safety practices analyzed at each of the four facilities where measurements were taken. The focus of this study is the evaluation of airborne particulate and carbon monoxide exposures for the purpose of determining areas of potentially high exposures. This knowledge can guide the plant owner or health professional to determine whether further measurements are necessary and where they might be needed. Safety factors and physical stressors (noise and ergonomic stressors) were described in a previously published companion paper. Although we did not take 8 h samples, we did find certain exposures that were potentially of concern to the small business owner. The main findings of this investigation were as follows: 1) CO levels in three plants, for the time periods measured, were less than the OSHA permissible exposure limit (PEL) of 50 parts per million (ppm) for an 8-h TWA. Three measurements, all from one plant, were due to a older and defective forklift and were above 50 ppm. 2) Total dust measures ranged from 0.86 to 1.67 mg/m3, taken adjacent to an operating machine cutting hardwood and measured up to 6 min. The American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists (ACGIH) guideline for hardwood dust is 1.0 mg/m3, again for an 8-h TWA.
Malkin, R; Lentz, TJ; Topmiller, J; Hudock, SD; Niemeier, RW
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