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  Solvent Exposures: Results of an OSHA Inspection
Accident Type Fall
Weather Clear/Cold
Type of operation New building construction
Crew size 5
Competent person on site? Yes
Safety and health program in effect? Partially
Worksite inspected regularly by employer? Occasionally
Training and education provided? Yes
Employee job title Iron workers
Age/sex 45/male
Expirience at this type of work 20 years
Time on project 1 week
Mattress Manufacturer
During a recent site-specific targeting inspection at a mattress manufacturing plant, screening tools used by an OSHA industrial hygienist indicated levels of methylene chloride above 250 parts per million (ppm) while employees were using an adhesive glue to join layers of foam. This particular glue contained approximately 60 percent methylene chloride. Overexposures have been linked to cancer in humans and may cause central nervous system disorders, severe skin and eye irritation, and aggravation of preexisting liver and heart disorders. Methylene chloride is a pleasant aromatic liquid, noticeable at levels between 25 and 300 ppm and is the primary component in blowing agents used in foam manufacturing and as an adhesive in the bedding industry. OSHA's standard for methylene chloride-Title 29 of the Code of Federal Regulations, Part 1910.1052-has a permissible exposure limit (PEL) of 25 parts per million (ppm) of air for an 8-hour time-weighted average (TWA). The standard also has an action level of 12.5 ppm and a 15- minute short-term PEL of 125 ppm.
Deficiencies Found
The industrial hygienist found that the manufacturer had not conducted the initial monitoring required by the OSHA methylene chloride standard. The two potentially exposed employees were not wearing any personal protective equipment (PPE) such as respirators, aprons, gloves, or safety glasses and had not been trained on the hazards associated with methylene chloride use, even though the employer had the Material Safety Data Sheet onsite. In addition, the employer had no written hazard communication program. The employer also had not addressed other sections from the standard such as regulated areas, medical surveillance, engineering/administrative controls, and hygiene. Based on the screening results, the industrial hygienist performed personal monitoring on both exposed employees.
Industrial Hygienist's Analysis
The OSHA industrial hygienist measured worker exposure to methylene chloride using screening and area and personal monitoring. The methylene chloride exposures were found to be greater than the 8-hour TWA PEL, so OSHA issued citations for the following:
• Exceeding the 8-hour TWA PEL;
• Making no initial determination of exposure levels;
• Having no established regulated areas to identify areas where exposures exceed the action level;
• Having no engineering/administrative controls;
• Using no respirators;
• Using no PPE;
• Providing no medical surveillance; and
• Having no employee training program.
Solutions and Results
The OSHA industrial hygienist explained the requirements of the methylene chloride standard and provided OSHA material to help the employer take effective abatement measures. The industrial hygienist also explained free services offered by the OSHA onsite consultation service and encouraged the employer to take advantage of these services.

Graphic:  power washAdditional Benefits The following items briefly describe ways to address items within 29 CFR 1910.1052 and help prevent overexposures to methylene chloride.
• Review chemicals used at your facility, particularly the Material Safety Data Sheets, to determine if any of your chemicals contain methylene chloride.
• Perform personal air monitoring to determine employee exposures to methylene chloride.
• Implement engineering controls such as installing exhaust ventilation or using other controls where feasible.
• Establish regulated potential exposure areas.
• Provide supplied-air respirators as required by the standard.
• Evaluate the use of PPE to prevent skin contact with methylene chloride.
• Establish a training program for affected employees.
• Set up a medical surveillance program for affected employees.
• Consider substitution to another, less toxic chemical. Graphic: gas maskOSHA Publication 3144, Methylene Chloride, provides an overview of the OSHA methylene chloride standard. It is available on the OSHA website at Click on Newsroom, then Publications. For additional information about OSHA enforcement standards and consultation programs, contact the OSHA regional or area office in your area or visit the agency website.

This SafeWorks was submitted by Carlos Reynolds, an industrial hygienist in OSHA's Oklahoma City Area Office.
OSHA provides workplace safety and health assistance to help employers identify and correct workplace hazards, develop or improve an effective safety and health management system, or both. Small business employers can receive this assistance, without cost, under a consultation program funded largely by OSHA and administered by state agencies and universities. Contact the OSHA regional office in your area for additional information on the consultation program, or visit the agency's website at