Safety and OSHA News

Moldy lottery tickets: New hazard?

An OSHA fact sheet says mold “can grow on almost any material.” Apparently, that includes lottery tickets. Two employees have filed for workers’ comp benefits over the moldy scratch-offs.

Two New Jersey Lottery employees were told to audit 400,000 moldy tickets that were damaged in Hurricane Sandy in 2012. The tickets were stored in a warehouse.

One worker contacted The Trentonian newspaper. The employee complained of headaches and respiratory problems.

The workers’ union, CWA local 1033, contacted officials about the conditions in the warehouse three times: Nov. 30, April 3 and April 18.

A union representative said the state’s handling of the situation was “careless.”

Lottery spokesman Bill Quinn says the state did take action. Quinn says after the first CWA complaint, all auditing work on the tickets was suspended until the workers could be supplied with protective gear and trained on how to safely handle the tickets.

Then in April, plastic wrapping on two boxes of the moldy scratch-offs came loose, which led to the second and third complaints.

The lottery also received a complaint about the situation in the warehouse from the property’s manager who contacted the state in mid-April to find out when the tickets would be removed and if remediation work would be performed.

The warehouse was professionally cleaned at the lottery’s expense which totaled about $10,000.

The employee who contacted The Trentonian sent a sample of the mold on the tickets for testing. The tests uncovered high levels of stachybotrus and aspergillus/penicillium molds.

OSHA says the most common health problems associated with mold are allergies. Symptoms can include sneezing, eye irritation, cough, asthma aggravation and skin rash.

People most at risk are children and the elderly, and:

  • people with allergies or existing respiratory conditions including asthma
  • people with a weakened immune system
  • recent organ or bone marrow transplants patients, and
  • patients recovering from recent surgery and receiving chemotherapy or long-term steroid treatment.
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