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Overexposure to Methylene Chloride can have long-term effects

Missouri workers have the right to know when they are exposed to toxic chemicals at their places of work. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration recently revisited a manufacturer in another state to check whether appropriate action had been taken following prior citations related to toxic exposure. OSHA proposed additional penalties for repeat offenses after it was found that workers remained exposed to Methylene Chloride that can cause occupational diseases with long-term effects.

The solvent, Methylene Chloride, is used in a variety of industries, and employers must inform workers of dangers and provide training in the safe use of it. Methylene Chloride affects the brain through the central nervous system and causes symptoms similar to consuming alcohol. This includes headache, drowsiness, nausea and dizzines, and an affected worker may become clumsy. At high levels, Methylene Chloride can lead to loss of consciousness and even death.

Methylene Chloride is regulated as a carcinogen in the workplace, and workers with heart conditions are particularly vulnerable. OSHA cited this company for overexposing its workers to this dangerous solvent in 2013. In the subsequent inspection, it was determined that the company had not complied with orders to install engineering controls to lower exposure levels. It also failed to provide workers with face and eye protection, and respirators in areas where they were in danger of exposure.

Disregard of worker safety is unacceptable, and OSHA has warned companies that it would follow-up to ensure compliance. Missouri workers who suspect that they may have been exposed to toxic chemicals may benefit from medical evaluations to avoid conditions with long-term effects. Compensation for medical expenses and lost income due to occupational diseases may be pursued by filing benefit claims with the workers' compensation insurance fund.

Source: ohsonline.com, "OSHA Cites Sign Manufacturer for Methylene Chloride Overexposures", April 22, 2015

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