OSHA News Release - (Archived) Table of Contents|
OSHA Trade Release
April 14, 2005
Contact: Frank Meilinger
Phone: (202) 693-1999
Perchloroethylene Exposure in Dry-Cleaning
WASHINGTON -- Reducing Worker Exposures to Perchloroethylene in Dry-Cleaning is the name and goal of a new publication unveiled today by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).
Perchloroethylene is a commonly used chemical in the dry-cleaning industry that can pose serious health hazards.
"This booklet provides practical and effective guidance on ways for dry-cleaning operators to reduce worker exposure to perchloroethylene," said Jonathan L. Snare, Acting Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health. "Reducing exposure to this potentially hazardous chemical is emphasized through a combination of preventive maintenance and control of leaks in dry-cleaning equipment, proper ventilation, and good work practices."
Perchloroethylene is a volatile organic chemical that can cause serious health hazards. Dry-cleaning workers who routinely breathe the solvent's vapors or spill it on their skin are at risk of developing health problems, including skin, liver, and kidney damage, and possibly cancer. The inhalation of the chemical has been shown to cause numerous health effects such as dizziness, loss of coordination, memory loss, and blistering of skin.
The new document provides information on the health hazards and current regulations, as well as recommendations on methods for reducing worker exposures. It also provides information on training, personal protective equipment, and some of the new technologies available in the dry cleaning industry.
The publication also addresses how good work practices can greatly minimize worker exposure to percholoroethylene vapors. For example, peak exposure levels can be reduced by several hundred parts per million simply by proper positioning of the head and body during transfer operations. Other important work practices to reduce exposures are listed in the accompanying fact sheet.
Employers are responsible for providing a safe and healthful workplace for their employees. OSHA's role is to assure the safety and health of America's workers by setting and enforcing standards; providing training, outreach, and education; establishing partnerships; and encouraging continual process improvement in workplace safety and health. For more information, visit www.osha.gov.
- Do not load the machine past its capacity.
- Do not open the machine door when the cycle is running.
- Keep the machine door CLOSED as much as possible.
- Do not "short cut" the drying cycle by removing garments from the machine before the cycle is finished.
- Keep head and face turned away from machine door and clothes when removing solvent-laden clothes from the washer.
- Avoid manually handling perchloroethylene. Instead, use a closed piping system that delivers perchloroethylene directly to the machine drum.
- WAIT until the machine and solvent are cold before performing maintenance.
- Use perchloroethylene-free spotting agents, if possible.
- Use spotting agents sparingly.
- Clean up perchloroethylene spills immediately. (The shop should have in place a plan for safely responding to spills.)
- Store containers of perchloroethylene and perchloroethylene wastes in tightly sealed containers.
This news release text is on the Internet at http://www.osha.gov. Information on this release will be made available to sensory impaired individuals upon request. Voice phone: (202) 693-1999.
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