North Carolina Employees Coming into Contact with Formaldehyde Can Suffer Long Term Health Effects

Two Florida manufacturers and two distributors based in Florida have been cited by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) for allegedly failing to guard their workers from potential formaldehyde contact and not communicating with product users on the dangers of coming into contact with formaldehyde. The companies face proposed fines of $49,200.

Our North Carolina workers’ compensation lawyers in Asheville reported back in May on our North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Lawyers Blog about the dangers of working with formaldehyde. Exposure to the skin, lungs, and eyes can cause detrimental effects to a worker’s health and should be medically attended right away.
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A spokeswoman for OSHA says that employers have the responsibility to inform workers of the dangers associated with using and producing hair products containing formaldehyde. If workers must be around products that contain formaldehyde then the following safety measures must be implemented to ensure the safety of all employees: staff training, proper ventilation, air quality monitoring and provide personal protective equipment.

A division of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration in Oregon got in touch with Florida’s OSHA office after officials had tested in excess of 100 merchandise samples at 50 beauty salons that use hair straightening or smoothing products. Products found to be causing formaldehyde exposure were then linked to the Florida distributors and manufacturers. Formaldehyde is associated with cancer and can cause irritation to nose and eyes with wheezing and coughing. It can also cause rashes, asthma and itching.

M&M International Incorporated located in Delray Beach and Copomon Enterprises in Boca Raton have both been penalized for $12,600 and each company was issued three serious violations which include: not ensuring that the material safety data sheets (MSDS) listed formaldehyde as an ingredient, communicating the dangers associated with exposure to formaldehyde and not providing for their workers a documented hazard communication plan.

A manufacturer in Orlando, Pro Skin Solutions Incorporated, which makes hair straightening products that are keratin-based, was fined $15,000 for 5 serious violations. The penalties cited were for not having a documented respiratory safety plan; there was no emergency eyewash location; they had no hazard communication program or any type of protocols to protect workers in an emergency situation.

The company failed to deal with formaldehyde inhalation and exposure dangers on the MSDS for merchandise containing formaldehyde. Additional violations included not keeping air sample records and not having written protocols for assessing chemical hazards. In Coral Springs, Keratronics Incorporated also a producer of hair straightening products that are keratin-based was fined $9,000 for similar violations to Pro Skin Solutions.

OSHA standards require all distributers, importers and manufacturers to clearly identify formaldehyde, either a solution or gas form, on any merchandise that has in excess of 0.1 percent formaldehyde. The products which contain MSDS must list formaldehyde as an ingredient and clarify why the formaldehyde is dangerous, what harm/damage it can do, how to protect you from harm and what should be done in the event of an emergency.

A hazard alert was issued by Federal OSHA previously warning hair salon employees and owners about possible formaldehyde exposure risks.

If you have been exposed to formaldehyde or are suffering from a workplace illness in North Carolina, contact the Lee Law Offices, P.A. today for a free no-obligation appointment to discuss your rights. Call 1-800-8 1965.

More Blog Entries:

Fewer Willful Violation Citations in North Carolina Leads to High Rate of Workplace Injuries in Unsafe Work Environments, North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Lawyers Blog, September 15, 2011.

North Carolina Injured Workers: What to Do, Who to Tell, North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Lawyers Blog, July 6, 2011.

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