Massachusetts has banned the commercial use and sale of lacquer sealer, a highly flammable wood floor finishing product linked to deadly home fires.
Gov. Deval Patrick signed the safety bill into law this week. The bill had strong support from MassCOSH (the Massachusetts Coalition for Occupational Safety and Health), which convened a Floor Finishing Safety Task Force to investigate the problem.
The task force was convened after a 2004 house fire in Somerville claimed the lives of two Vietnamese floor sanders and burned their co-workers. Shortly after, a Vietnamese flooring contractor died in a Hull house fire. Both fires involved the use of lacquer sealer used in floor finishing.
“This groundbreaking law will save lives and end floor finishing fires that have caused so much pain and destruction,” said Marcy Goldstein-Gelb, executive director of MassCOSH. “We owe a great deal of thanks to the Governor and Legislature for recognizing these grave dangers and taking action to protect workers and residents.”
Following the three fatal fires, the Floor Finishing Safety Task Force issued a 2005 report stating Boston had seen 25 fires involving lacquer sealer over the 10 previous years and Needham had seen two in the prior year that threatened worker safety.
In the 2005 report, the task force recommended the state promote use of non-flammable water-based finishers to protect Massachusetts worker safety and prevent worker deaths.
The task force observed the problem of flammable lacquer sealer was targeting Massachusetts’ Vietnamese community, which has a large concentration of workers in the floor finishing industry.
The bill proposing the ban was jointly filed by state Rep. Martin Walsh and Sen. Patricia Jehlen.
Breakstone, White & Gluck of Boston is a supporter of MassCOSH and its work to protect Massachusetts construction workers and other employees.