Accommodations/food service Injury prevention

Chemical used in car, truck washes can injure workers: study

Reprints
chemical

Photo: Washington State Department of Labor and Industries

Tumwater, WA – A chemical used in car and truck washes can harm workers, according to research from the Washington State Department of Labor and Industries.

Researchers from the department’s Safety and Health Assessment and Research for Prevention program examined injury reports from 2001 to 2013. Roughly half of the injured employees worked at commercial car washes.

One worker died and 48 workers were burned in the state after being exposed to car and truck wash products containing hydrofluoric acid. Of the seven hospitalized workers, two needed surgery. Injuries also led to time off work and disability. Nine cases cited “failure” of personal protective equipment, in which the product got inside gloves, boots or glasses, according to the report.

Products containing both diluted-use concentrations of less than 1 percent HF and concentrated formulations of up to 20 percent HF are dangerous to workers, the researchers said.

Washington L&I recommends using products that do not contain HF. If the chemical is used, employers should limit exposure and ensure workers are trained, aware of the hazard and wear PPE, according to a safety hazard alert from the agency.

The research was published in the Aug. 21 issue of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.