Industrial Hygiene Success Story
Case 4: Industrial Hygiene Hazards at Georgia Mobile Home Manufacturers, 1990-2000
Scott E. Brueck, CIH, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, Cincinnati, Ohio
Art Wickman, CIH, Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta, Georgia
The Safety and Health Consultation Program at the Georgia Institute of Technology provides free consultation to small businesses in Georgia. Between 1990 and 2000 industrial hygiene surveys were conducted at 10 manufactured home facilities in the state. Each facility had approximately 125 to 300 employees and typically operated one shift per day. Manufacturing activities included welding, woodworking, cutting drywall, use of pneumatic staple and nail guns, and other activities similar to those in residential construction.
Representative air sampling was conducted to measure employees' exposures to wood dust, nuisance dust, metal fumes from welding, and methylene diisocyanate (MDI). Monitoring results revealed exposures to be in excess of the OSHA PEL and/or the ACGIH TLV for each of these air contaminants, except MDI. Of particular concern were exposures to welding fumes and manganese fume. Fifty percent of the welders monitored had exposures in excess of the TLV (5.0 mg/m3) for total welding fumes and 83% had exposures to manganese fumes which exceeded the TLV (0.2 mg/m3). Specific problems with the exhaust ventilation system in the woodworking and drywall areas, such as plugged exhaust ducts, were observed and likely contributed to excessive exposures in those areas.
Representative full shift noise monitoring indicated that more than 50% of the employees were exposed to noise levels greater than OSHA's Action Level of 85 dBA and over 10% were exposed above the PEL of 90 dBA. Additional noise concerns included lack of proper hearing protection use, inadequate or no hearing conservation program, and leaking compressed air lines contributing to noise exposures.
Other problems identified at these facilities included inadequate safety and health programs such as hazard communication, personal protective equipment, respiratory protection, fall protection, and prevention of commonly occurring injuries.