A group of individuals experienced injuries related to a chemical reaction in a Boston-area chain restaurant this week. One man, an employee of the restaurant, was taken to a local hospital in serious condition and later died due to exposure to the substance.
The incident occurred Thursday evening at a Buffalo Wild Wings restaurant in Burlington, MA. At this time, the exact chemicals involved and/or exactly how the reaction happened is not known. A representative from the local fire department told a newspaper that first responders believed the incident involved a type of concentrated chlorine bleach called “Super 8.” Super 8 is the name of a low-temperature sodium hypochlorite solution that is EPA-registered to be used for sanitization in the Food Processing and Food Service industry. It is commonly used to clean floors. At this time, it was not clear if the Super 8 used in the restaurant had been mixed with any other cleaning chemicals.
The man who died was attempting to squeegee the product out of the building after a different employee who started to use the cleaning solution was overcome with the fumes when he was overcome with fumes, according to the fire department. The chemical reaction occurred in the restaurant’s kitchen and affected a group of ten individuals, including employees and diners. Symptoms included difficulty breathing, shortness of breath, and eye irritation. These individuals were treated with oxygen and none of them were reported to be in serious condition.
Diners in the restaurant told reporters that they smelled a strong chemical odor and witnessed those near the kitchen coughing and moving quickly away from the area. Some witnesses reported that the smell was “like you’re in the pool, but add bleach to that.” Super 8 contains sodium hypochlorite, a main component of bleach.
The Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OHSA) maintains guidelines for how employers can keep employees who work with cleaning chemicals safe. This includes choosing the least hazardous cleaning agent for the task at hand and providing safe working conditions for employees using cleaning chemicals. Additionally, if cleaning chemicals that employees will be using are deemed hazardous, worker training must be provided before any employee is required to use the hazardous chemical.
Under the OSHA Hazard Communication Standards, required training must include:
- the health and physical hazards of the specific cleaning products;
- proper handling, storage, and use of all cleaning chemicals being used, including dilution procedures when using a product which must be diluted before use;
- the proper procedures which must be followed if a spill occurs;
- personal protective equipment required for using the cleaning product; and
- how to obtain and use hazard information, including an explanation of labels and Material Safety Data Sheets.
OSHA has been notified about the chemical incident in Massachusetts and an investigation is currently underway.
About the Author