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April 2013

Safety Notes

Employees exposed to pesticides in food-products warehouse

Accident Report

Indicent | Exposure to pesticides
Business | Food products
Employee | Shift workers

Employees at a 550,000-square-foot food-products warehouse were sickened when they came to work after the warehouse had been fogged with an insecticide (ULD BP-100) and an insect growth regulator (Nyguard IGR).

The warehouse was fogged twice a year by licensed commercial pesticide applicators. A typical application required two fogging machines and concluded by 7:30 p.m. After the application, there was usually a two-hour "hang time" or settling time, after which the warehouse was ventilated for two hours before employees on the third shift arrived.

This time, however, one of the two fogging machines broke down, leaving one fogger to cover the entire warehouse. The breakdown extended the application time by two hours, decreasing both the hang time and the time allowed for ventilation. Ventilation fans were still running at 11:40 p.m. when employees on the third shift arrived.

As the employees entered the warehouse, they saw a foggy mist hanging in the air in the upper rafters. Many of them started coughing and wheezing. Others felt their eyes burning and noticed a bitter taste in their mouths and numb lips. Those who took heart medications had worse symptoms. None of the employees knew the warehouse would be fogged before their shift started and they had no health hazard information on the pesticides used.

Applicable standards

Rules for all workplaces, 437-001-0760(1)(d) – The employer did not inform the employees about the known health hazards to which they were exposed.

warehouse illustration

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