Chemicals

It’s All Fun and Games Until Somebody Gets Cancer: Theme Park Cited for 5 Paint Room Health Hazards

At Lake Compounce Family Theme Park in Bristol, Connecticut, visitors can ride the Boulder Dash – a wooden coaster that reaches speeds above 60 mph – or the brand-new Phobia – a steel coaster that flips riders through a cobra inversion 150 feet in the air. But behind the thrills and chills were some working conditions that were less than thrilling – and less than safe.

According to OSHA citations issued in January, 2016, Lake Compounce employees were exposed to multiple hazards in the park’s paint room, including exposures to caustic and other chemicals, burns, and respirator hazards. Paint rooms pose serious physical and health hazards to workers.  Take a look at the citations issued against Lake Compounce for problems with their paint room and consider: how do your own paint room operations measure up?

Paint Room Health Hazards

Employees at the park applied spray coatings to park equipment – but according to OSHA, their employer had failed to:

Complete a PPE hazard assessment. Whenever workers are exposed to chemical hazards, they may need protection for their hands and arms, eyes and faces, or whole body. Only a thorough hazard assessment can tell you which type of PPE you need for chemical hazards. PPE hazard assessments are required by 29 CFR 1910.132.

Train workers regarding chemical hazards. The hazard communication standard, 29 CFR 1910.1200, requires employers to train workers about the hazards of the chemicals they are exposed to. Training can be either chemical-specific or categorical, but workers must be able to understand and implement their training. Workers exposed to methylene chloride and hexavalent chromium – chemicals that are commonly found in spray painting and electroplating operations like those at the theme park – are also subject to the substance-specific training requirements found in 29 CFR 1910.1052 and 1910.1026.

Provide eye- and hand-washing facilities. When workers’ eyes or bodies may be exposed to corrosive chemicals, 29 CFR 1910.151 requires employers to provide an eyewash and quick-drench shower.

Provide respirator fit testing, medical evaluations and training. Even the best-designed ventilation system can’t prevent all airborne exposures to aerosolized chemicals in a paint spray booth, so workers must wear respirators with either supplied-air or filtering facepieces. Respiratory protection programs are covered by 29 CFR 1910.134. Before workers can be placed in a respirator, they must be medically evaluated and fit tested, and they must be trained to wear and care for the respirator properly.

Monitor workers’ exposure to hexavalent chromium and methylene chloride. Exposures to these two hazardous chemicals are common in paint spray and electroplating operations. Hexavalent chromium is corrosive, asthmogenic and carcinogenic; it is the subject of an OSHA substance-specific standard, 29 CFR 1910.1026, that includes a permissible exposure limit (PEL) of 5 mcg/m3. Methylene chloride is carcinogenic and can cause cardiac effects (including elevation of carboxyhemoglobin), central nervous system effects, liver effects, and skin and eye irritation. Like hexavalent chromium, methylene chloride is subject to an OSHA substance-specific standard, 29 CFR 1910.1052, with a PEL of 25 ppm in air and a short-term exposure limit (STEL) of 125 ppm in air. Because they are subject to a substance-specific standard, exposures to these two chemicals involve specific exposure monitoring requirements.

Tomorrow, we’ll look at some physical hazards that are common in paint spray operations.