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Employee complaining about air quality

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Involved In Discussions
#1
We have an employee reporting problems with breathing, and he said his doctor told him it could be caused by a "sick building"(I unaware of any evidence other than speculation)... The employee now seems to think we have an air quality problem and has complained on multiple occasions. After the first complaint we called out an air duct cleaning company(didn't know who to reach out to...) who did a visual inspection and said they don't see any reason to clean the ducts, and the fact that only person is complaining is probably a clue we don't have an air quality problem, but would clean them if we want(no record unfortunately, it was verbal). We also offered him an air purifier for his desk, and a respirator mask and he declined both. He just complained again, and I want to make sure I'm following the correct protocol, but I'm just not sure what they are. Any pointers/advise?

Forgot to mention(edit) we purchased a ventilation hood a couple months ago to ensure we have good ventilation when using adhesives.

PS we're located in Arizona and the building is only about 10 years old if that helps...
 
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#2
Some people are super sensitive. Not a whole lot you can do. Maybe have the air sampled and tested, to be sure but that can open a can of worms. He declined your accommodations. Not sure what he expects you to do. He'd probably be happier somewhere else. Good luck.
 

Randy

Super Moderator
#3
Do a search and locate an Industrial Hygienist to do some area and point air sampling, it starts there. It's been reported so no matter what you think it's now an OSHA issue, so get the IH now.....Look under the AIHA (American Industrial Hygiene Association) or ASSE (American Society of Safety Engineers) to locate someone close, don't waste time you've got to get real deal people involved now. Your insurance might cover the cost or even have an IH on call.
 
#4
Randy is absolutely correct. You took the first initial step, but to address a health concern you need a recognized (licensed?) person to properly assess the issue. To do any less leaves you open to potential lawsuits.
 

mattador78

Involved In Discussions
#5
As golfman says some people are a more sensitive than others, we use a lot of chemistry here as a finishing company so every six months we have a air quality report performed for all our buildings including the office. We haven't had any issues with the staff and we even supply the adjacent buiding with information as our vents go out past their office so it keeps them happy as well (kind of they moan about the smell but at least its not harming them lol).
 
#6
Our Bureau of Workers' Compensation does air quality testing for free. Generally for factories but if you also manufacture they will have about 4-6 people in different parts of the business wear monitoring devices for 8 hours. I would go with Bureau of Workers' Compensation because if that report comes back clean and worker still makes a "stink" - he/she would have a hard time proving bad air if the BWC says there is no problem.
I would not have that individual wear a monitor just people close or in near proximity... I could just see that person purposely making dust and spraying hair spray.
 

mattador78

Involved In Discussions
#7
Our Bureau of Workers' Compensation does air quality testing for free. Generally for factories but if you also manufacture they will have about 4-6 people in different parts of the business wear monitoring devices for 8 hours. I would go with Bureau of Workers' Compensation because if that report comes back clean and worker still makes a "stink" - he/she would have a hard time proving bad air if the BWC says there is no problem.
I would not have that individual wear a monitor just people close or in near proximity... I could just see that person purposely making dust and spraying hair spray.
That's what we do here fastened up to fixed points where the airflow is.
 
#8
Having been the guy who had to bring similar issues to top management's attantion decades ago I'll weigh in.

Some people are more sensitive than others, this person could be the one who detects whatever you're using at low concentrations.

Some people are more willing to speak up - could be your plant stinks and everybody is pretending it doesn't. It being in Arizona, sadly that state is known as the place California businesses with hazardous outputs flee to when they are unable/unwilling to meet our environmental requirements, so without knowing your processes I'll withhold judgement.

Some people get sensitized - after excessive exposure to polyurethanes and epoxies with no protections or ventilation, I became able to detect by scent a recently opened container on the other side of the room. This was with substances that for the first six months of using I believed had no scent at point blank range. It went from being fun materials to work with to feeling as though I was breathing smoke when I worked with them.

Granted all this occurred in the early eighties, as MSDS and worker protections such as gloves, respirators, and ventilation hoods were yet to come into play. To this day I can detect small amounts of some chemicals in the area, and believe me it's no benefit to me, and I do not work for employers that I would have to endure this at.
 
#9
We have an employee reporting problems with breathing, and he said his doctor told him it could be caused by a "sick building"(I unaware of any evidence other than speculation)... The employee now seems to think we have an air quality problem and has complained on multiple occasions. After the first complaint we called out an air duct cleaning company(didn't know who to reach out to...) who did a visual inspection and said they don't see any reason to clean the ducts, and the fact that only person is complaining is probably a clue we don't have an air quality problem, but would clean them if we want(no record unfortunately, it was verbal). We also offered him an air purifier for his desk, and a respirator mask and he declined both. He just complained again, and I want to make sure I'm following the correct protocol, but I'm just not sure what they are. Any pointers/advise?

Forgot to mention(edit) we purchased a ventilation hood a couple months ago to ensure we have good ventilation when using adhesives.

PS we're located in Arizona and the building is only about 10 years old if that helps...
If it is an important worker, take care of he /she even If You invest More than usual.
If he Is the only with this need, and
You need to invest some important resources, and really His/her job can be done by any person, You can move him/her to other different área and maybe assign him/her other type of job.
My two cents
 

Randy

Super Moderator
#10
From the looks of it here I'm the only professional OHS person in this discussion with 30+ years of OSHA compliance experience and a ton of OSHA related training including an BS in Occupational Health & Safety. Do what you want but here's the thing, move him, pander to him, or forget him totally, regardless of what you do, you now know and from this point forward you can start facing potential US OSHA Egregious violations and penalties. All your person has to do is call 1-800-321-6742 (which you are by law required to provide him) and file a complaint and possibly claim imminent health hazard to initiate the OSHA inspection process, once that's done all bets are off and lack of positive action on your part can become a humbling experience.
 
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