A plastics injection molding company cleaned their molds with a product that contained trichloroethylene, a volatile solvent classified as a suspect human carcinogen. When they were inspected by OSHA, the inspector asked them if they knew if respirators were required for that task. They didn’t know. So they contacted CHESS for help in evaluating their employees’ exposures.
CHESS’s Certified Industrial Hygienist did the exposure monitoring that OSHA required, providing the results before the abatement date on the OSHA citation. We found that exposure was below OSHA limits and provided the company with a report they could give to OSHA, showing the results compared to OSHA limits.
Even though results were below OSHA limits, they were above the recommended short-term exposure limit, the ACGIH Threshold Limit Value® – STEL. In the detailed report we provided to the company, we recommended better control of exposure. As part of that, we evaluated three options: using respirators, putting in ventilation systems, or changing to a less hazardous product. The company was able to use the least expensive and most effective option, changing products.
The company called CHESS again a year later, for help determining if employees needed to wear hearing protection. Hearing protection was mandatory, but the company had worked hard to make the shop quieter. The monitoring we did showed that exposures throughout the shop had been reduced so much that the company no longer needed a hearing conservation program and employees didn’t need to wear ear plugs. That made employees happy because they didn’t like wearing hearing protection. It made managers happy because they didn’t need to try to enforce hearing protection. And it made the company’s bottom line better because the company didn’t need to pay for the audiograms, monitoring, and hearing protection required when noise levels were high.