The wrong stripping agents can kill
An investigation into the death of a Michigan bathtub refinisher in 2010 has uncovered more than a dozen other fatalities that may be related to the same chemical compound. In the Feb. 24 issue of Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, a publication of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, researchers looked at the effect of methylene chloride, a paint-stripping product marketed for use in aircraft maintenance.
The agencies identified 13 bathtub refinisher fatalities associated with methylene chloride stripping agents that had been investigated in nine states during 2000 to 2011. Each death occurred in a residential bathroom with inadequate ventilation.
Protective equipment, including a respirator, either was not used or was inadequate to protect against methylene chloride vapor, which has been recognized as potentially fatal to furniture strippers and factory workers but has not been reported previously as a cause of death among bathtub refinishers.
Ten different products were associated with the 13 deaths. Six of the products were marketed for use in the aircraft industry, the rest for use on wood, metal, glass and masonry. None of the product labels mentioned bathtub refinishing. The percentage of methylene chloride in the products ranged from 60% to 100%.
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Stock prevails in subcontractor lawsuit
A North Carolina Business Court Judge has ruled in favor of Stock Building Supply in a long-running case involving one of its window and door installers. Thompson Installation filed suit against Stock in April 2011, claiming breach of contract and unfair restraint of trade because Stock allegedly refused to let Thompson do work for any of Stock’s competitors. According to the lawsuit, the contract between the two companies was supposed to be “non-exclusive.”
But that’s not how it worked out, the plaintiff said. Stock used “threats and coercive tactics” to make Thompson refuse work from Stock’s competitors. At the time, the Raleigh, N.C., pro dealer was providing Thompson with more than 200 installation jobs per week. Stock’s competitors were offering less than 20, according to the court brief.
The issue at stake — whether Stock possibly committed unfair trade practices or unlawful restraint of trade — was designated as a “mandatory complex business case” by the Chief Justice of the North Carolina Supreme Court and assigned to a Business Court. In Judge John Jolly’s ruling, there were no “substantial aggravating circumstances” in the dispute that would constitute unfair trade practice. He also noted that Stock had a 60% market share of window and door installation in the Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill area, hardly a monopoly that would hurt consumers through an unfair constraint of trade.
Jolly did not rule on the breach of contract motion.
D.C. Hotline: Scaling back the LRRP Rule
Lumberyard owners from around the country carried drafts of S 2148 — the Lead Exposure Reduction Amendment Act — throughout the halls of Congress March 5 to 7, lobbying legislators to pass a more reasonable version of the EPA’s Lead Renovation, Repair & Painting (LRRP) Rule. More than 110 dealers came to Washington, D.C., for the annual Legislative Conference of the National Lumber & Building Material Dealers Association (NLBMDA).
Joined by the Window & Door Dealers Alliance, the groups co-hosted a congressional reception on Capitol Hill in the Rayburn House building foyer. CNN contributor and GOP political strategist Alex Castellanos addressed both groups, along with Sen. John Hoeven (R-N.D.) and Greg Walden (R-Ore.)
Paying calls on Democrats as well as Republicans, NLBMDA members pressed various causes, including removing barriers to credit for small businesses. But the Lead Exposure Reduction Act was at the top of the agenda, having just been introduced by Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), ranking member of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works. The bill already has five co-sponsors in the Senate, and the lobbying trip yielded two more — Sen. John Boozman (R-Ark.) and Sen. Dan Coats (R-Ind.).
Chris Yenrick of Smith Phillips Building Supply in Winston-Salem, N.C., visited with various U.S. House members, including Mick Mulvaney, a former builder who now represents a district in South Carolina, and Shelley Moore Capito, a representative from West Virginia.
Yenrick noted that his pitch for S 2148 got the best reception in the GOP offices. “They felt that the EPA had done some overreaching there,” he reported. The NLBMDA expects to have a House version of the bill introduced in the next several weeks.
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