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Inhalation Exposure

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Inhalation Exposure

A man worked as a water truck driver. Part of his job was to open 1-pound, double bagged packets of an antibacterial chemical to treat tanks of water. The process involved opening the outer bag and removing the intact inner bag, which was water-soluble. The intact inner bag would be placed directly into the tank of water where it would dissolve and release the chemical. The purpose of the outer plus inner bag assembly was to prevent the exposure of personnel during application.

The worker stated that the inner bag would often "stick" to the outer bag, requiring him to pull them apart. Other water truck drivers also reported this same sticking problem.

In the situation investigated, the worker was attempting this separation of bags when the inner bag suddenly "popped" and he inhaled the chemical as it flew into his mouth and nose.

The issues included an evaluation of the Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) and label with a focus on those portions of the MSDS and label relevant to the inhalation hazards and preventative measures. Compliance with the OSHA Hazard Communication Standard was also reviewed. Another element of the investigation was the fact that the inner and outer bags often stick to each other, the cause of that stickiness, and how it could be eliminated.

The case settled prior to trial.

Dr. Fox is an explosion expert, fire expert, and chemical expert with extensive experience in OSHA chemical regulations and chemical safety.