Fertilizer causes adverse reactions for tree planters

Safety Alert Type: 
Workers
Location: 
Campbell River, BC
Date of Incident / Close Call: 
2012-09-25
Company Name: 
BC Timber Sales - Strait of Georgia Business Area
Details of Incident / Close Call: 

Fertilizer stored outside in the spring/summer seasons and then used in the fall planting season provided for an incident which occurred with tree planters.

Tree planters opened a large plastic storage bag containing many smaller bags of fertilizer teabags which are used when planting seedlings in the field. Within a short time two tree planters experienced adverse reactions: headaches, nose and mouth irritation and shortness of breath.

A WorkSafeBC inspector conducted a site inspection in the field and tested the bag of fertilizer that was suspect which was in the back of one of the contractor’s trucks on September 28, 2012.

A sampling was taken and approximately one part per million (ppm) of nitrogen oxides was found. Occupational exposure to nitrogen oxides is consistent with the symptoms reported by the tree planters. The inspector’s report stated that “decomposition of the fertilizer tested may have occurred”.

Outside storage of the stack of fertilizer bags in the heat of summer likely contributed to potential decomposition of the product, especially the fertilizer bags on the top of the stack.

Learnings and Suggestions: 

• MSDS details, such as depot and field storage and handling requirements, are to be reviewed in advance of ordering and usage of the fertilizer product. If any clarifications are required then contact the fertilizer supplier / manufacturer regarding the MSDS information.

• Only order amounts of fertilizer required for specific projects and where possible, have it delivered directly to the worksite. Where storage facilities are used they must be adequate (ie: “in a cool, dry, well ventilated place, out of direct sunlight”) for the amount of fertilizer ordered.

• MSDS details must be clearly conveyed and understood by all that will be in contact with the product. These details must include all storage and handling procedures, awareness of possible exposure side effects and first aid procedures.

For more information on this submitted alert: 

For more information contact: Jordie Sorensen, Certification Standards Officer, BC Timber Sales Campbell River 205-286-9353

File attachments
Fertilizer causes adverse reactions for tree planters.pdf
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