One Spark Changes Everything
One gets a lot of junk mail as an architect, including some very strange and specialized magazines dedicated to ductwork, fire safety and even as obscure as "Coverings: Canada's floor covering magazine." In that august journal we learned that in the interest of saving a few bucks, workers are being constantly exposed to volatile organic compounds often without any personal protective equipment and working with products that can easily blow up in their face and kill them.
After three deaths and 25 fires in Massachusetts, the State set up a commission which found that most installers were using $9 per tin lacquer sealer instead of $40 water based sealer; they say that it dries faster and requires less skill to apply. It also can be set off by static electricity- "simply pouring liquid from one container to another can create enough friction to cause sparks." One installer who barely survived noted that some sealers are 80% solvent "A gallon of lacquer on the floor is like pouring three quarts of gasoline in your basement."
The commission also found that "Floor finishing can also cause health problems such as headaches, dizziness, and even damage to the nervous system when people inhale the solvents over a period of time."