A just-released federal report sheds light on the numerous occupational health and safety dangers that likely exist at e-scrap firms throughout the country.
The report, released this month by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), shares findings from a series of site visits conducted between 2012 and 2013 at the request of an undisclosed e-scrap firm in the U.S. NIOSH collected air, surface and blood samples and interviewed about a quarter of facility employees to identify necessary health and safety improvements.
And, according to the report, a variety of shortcomings were found. Seven of 26 interviewed employees reported health concerns connected to CRT de-manufacturing, and NIOSH staffers found reason for worry on lead exposure.
Two company employees engaged in “maintenance or in the CRT processing area” had elevated blood lead levels and one employee was found to be overexposed to lead in the air. In addition, lead was detected on the clothing and skin of employees as well as on surface areas throughout the facility. Lead, a potentially toxic substance, is concentrated in the funnel glass and frit components of CRT monitors and displays.
Noise and ergonomic assessments were also carried out during NIOSH’s visits — both areas, the report states, could stand to improve. Seven of 13 employees were exposed to noise levels above national workplace standards and employees were observed working in “awkward,” strenuous and potentially dangerous positions.
A 13-point list of recommendations was drawn up to respond to NIOSH’s concerns, including updating the ventilation system, segregating CRT glass breaking areas and a remodeling of facility work stations and procedures to ensure worker safety.
The NIOSH agency, part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), is responsible for conducting research and making recommendations on national worker safety issues.