A Breath of Fresh Air: How Safety and Risk Expertise Saved the Day

March 6, 2024 • Previsor

While conducting an industrial hygiene visit for noise exposures at a manufacturing plant, Joe Czaicki, a seasoned Safety and Risk Consultant, was hit with a strong chemical odor as he entered the facility. Due to his years of experience as an industrial hygienist, he believed employees may be experiencing overexposure to the chemical paradichlorobenzene (PDC), a common ingredient in mothballs and insect repellents.  

Safety and Risk Consultant, Joe Czaicki

Joe knew PDC exposure could be harmful, so he investigated further. He observed poor housekeeping practices of PDC solids and dust throughout the plant. Additionally, he noticed employees were not wearing any respirators despite the strong odor. 

Concerned, Joe reviewed safety data sheets and learned that PDC could cause eye irritation and was a suspected human carcinogen. He also discovered the American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists (ACGIH) had significantly lowered the recommended exposure limit, known as the threshold limit value (TLV) for PDC in 1993, reflecting growing concerns about its health effects. 

Joe immediately brought his findings to the attention of the facility’s safety manager. While the manager acknowledged conducting previous air sampling, they could not locate the results. Joe arranged additional testing, finding four out of five employees exceeded the ACGIH TLV for PDC exposure. 

Working with the facility owner and their insurance agent, Joe recommended adhering to the lower ACGIH TLV; despite not being legally mandated by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, Joe didn’t stop there. He collaborated with the facility to develop a comprehensive action plan to address the PDC exposure problem to ensure a safe work environment. This plan included: 

  • Engineering controls: Install local exhaust ventilation systems near machinery and de-bagging stations, seal floor holes to improve overall ventilation, and clean the existing exhaust system. 
  • Administrative controls: Implement stricter housekeeping practices and provide extensive employee training on the safe handling of PDC and the importance of wearing proper personal protective equipment. 

Smart solutions with real results

Six months later, a follow-up visit revealed remarkable progress. The implemented engineering controls significantly reduced PDC levels in the air. Subsequent air monitoring confirmed a dramatic decrease in employee exposure, with a more than 94% reduction for most employees. 

This story showcases the critical role of Safety and Risk consultants in protecting workers’ health. Joe’s keen observation, knowledge of safety regulations, and collaborative approach helped the facility significantly reduce employee exposure to harmful chemicals, creating a safer and healthier work environment. 

Want to improve safety in your business?

Our Safety and Risk Services (SRS) team provides consultations to enhance your business operations and safety protocols, directs you to valuable resources, and connects you with tailored training programs. We are dedicated to providing education and support to help you achieve your safety goals. Connect with SRS today.    

March 6, 2024
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