The colorless, strong-smelling gas can cause a variety of health ailments -- from irritation to cancer. Workers can be exposed by breathing it, or getting it on their skin or in their eyes.
Recent air tests showed formaldehyde at hazardous levels in salons using Brazilian Blowout Acai Professional Smoothing Solution and Brasil Cacau Cadiveu, resulting in multiple violations. The agency also cited two manufacturers and two distributors of hair smoothing products for various violations, including failure to provide proper notification on product labels.
The Food and Drug Administration issued a warning letter in August to the importer and distributer of Brazilian Blowout Acai Professional Smoothing Solution, saying the product "is adulterated and misbranded," according to OSHA. "Although the solution contains methylene glycol, which can release formaldehyde during normal conditions of use, the product is labeled 'formaldehyde free' or 'no formaldehyde' and does not list formaldehyde on the material safety data sheet," a hazard warning sheet provided to products' users.
In addition to OSHA, public health agencies in Oregon, California, and Connecticut, as well as several other states, have issued warnings about the products to salon owners, stylists, workers, and clients. The agencies are continuing to investigate complaints from stylists and hair salon owners about exposure to formaldehyde while using the products.
The federal and state agencies advise salon owners and employees to look closely at the hair smoothing products they are using to see whether they contain ingredients that are treated as formaldehyde under OSHA's Formaldehyde standard. The standard includes certain requirements.
For example, if air tests determine that formaldehyde is present at levels above OSHA's limits -- 0.75 parts of formaldehyde per million parts of air during an eight-hour work shift or 2 ppm during any 15-minute period -- the employer must take a variety of measures, including:
- Installing air ventilation systems.
- Requiring workers to use lower heat settings on blow-dryers and flat irons, when possible, since workers can be exposed especially when heat is applied.
- Providing respirators to workers if needed.
- Posting signs at entryways to any area where formaldehyde is above OSHA's limits.
- Telling workers of the health effects of formaldehyde, how to use the product safely, and what personal protective equipment to wear while using the product.
- Training workers to properly clean up spills.
Whether air tests show formaldehyde levels above OSHA's limits, employers must give employees appropriate gloves and other personal protective equipment such as face shields, chemical splash goggles, and chemical-resistant aprons. They must also ensure the workplace has eye and skin washing equipment available.
Read more at the WorkersComp Forum homepage.
October 27, 2011
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