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Deepwater Horizon Response: NIOSH identifies need for worker education on heat stress, hand washing, and hygiene (6/21)

June 21, 2010
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Two NIOSH Health Hazard Evaluation (HHE) Program industrial hygiene teams have conducted worker exposure monitoring for volatile organic compounds (VOCs), including total hydrocarbons and specific VOCs identified on screening samples. Sampling is also being done to look for carbon monoxide, hydrogen sulfide, benzene soluble particulates, diesel exhaust, and propylene glycol (a component of dispersant). Monitoring was conducted during offshore booming and skimming operations.

The medical team is continuing to administer health symptom surveys to off-shore response workers and investigating the feasibility of distributing additional surveys through boat docks, decontamination areas, and safety officers.

About 350 surveys, of which approximately 10 percent were Spanish, were received at the home office for review. Medical officers visit the Venice, LA, BP infirmary daily. The infirmary, which sees first-aid and non-recordable injuries and illnesses, refers more serious cases and recordable injuries and illnesses to the Disaster Medical Assistance Team clinic. Infirmary logs showed some very mild heat-related symptoms.

HHE Program medical staff are preparing a guidance document on medical screening for fitness for duty. The medical field team identified a need for worker education materials about heat stress, hand washing, and hygiene and is facilitating the provision of public health posters for a camp for contracted on-shore and near-shore workers.

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