How Does Our Exposure to Formalin Compare to Workers in Other Industries - OPED

A survey conducted by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) compared the number of workers with specific chemical exposure between various industries. For example, it compares how many Registered Nurses are exposed to formalin with how many Funeral Directors are exposed. In that case, there are twenty times as many nurses exposed as there are funeral directors. No determination is mate regarding the amount or duration of the exposure.

The following is a practical test. I have listed the chemical and I have listed some of the occupational groups that were surveyed. In the margin to the right, underline Less Exposed if you think the group has less exposure to formalin than funeral directors. Indicate More Exposed if you thin the group has more workers with exposure to formalin.

Exposure to Formalin Compared to Funeral Directors

Medical Scientist Less Exposed More Exposed
Registered Nurses Less Exposed More Exposed
Lab Technicians Less Exposed More Exposed
Health Technicians Less Exposed More Exposed
Food Preparation Industry Less Exposed More Exposed
Health Aids Less Exposed More Exposed
Maids Less Exposed More Exposed
Janitors/Cleaners Less Exposed More Exposed
Dental Labs Less Exposed More Exposed
Print Machinists Less Exposed More Exposed
Pack & Fill Machinists Less Exposed More Exposed
Folding Machinists Less Exposed More Exposed
Misc. Machinists Less Exposed More Exposed
Assemblers Less Exposed More Exposed
Hand Packers Less Exposed More Exposed

The answers: The survey is hardly new. The focus years are 1981 – 1983. Each of the above occupational categories had more workers exposed to formaldehyde than the funeral industry. In most cases, it wasn't even close.

Five years after the survey, OSHA promulgated the formaldehyde standard. Five years after that, Compliance Plus did their own survey and found OSHA had issued16 percent of all formaldehyde citations and over 20 of formaldehyde related fines to funeral homes. It was grossly unfair but there was nary a whimper from our industry. Some industries fight back. We are not one of them.

You may view the actual survey at the follow link:

Note: Our 2008 Employee Renewal Safety Training for Funeral Homes is available. This is a narrated PowerPoint presentation that is used throughout the industry. The fee is $125. Texas firms must add sales tax. For information, call Compliance Plus at 800 950-1101. Visa and Master Card accepted.