A fiber glass manufacturing company was cited by OSHA for 10 separate safety and health violations. OSHA has penalized the company in amount of $49,500 following an investigation OSHA started in March. OSHA started their investigation after receiving an anonymous complaint that workers at the plant were exposed to unhealthy amounts of a chemical called Styrene used in the manufacturing of plastics and resins and can cause severe respiratory irritation.
Kim Stille, an OSHA Area Director in Madison, WI stated, “Companies must be aware of the hazards that exist in their facilities and take all possible precautions to minimize the risk of illness.” Workers at plant did not have a written respiratory protection program in place which is responsibility of the employer. Workers were exposed to large airborne concentrations of styrene with no adequate personal protective equipment provided to workers such as respirators or proper ventilation in manufacturing areas.
Other violations include failure to conduct PPE hazards assessment; employees were not provided with hazard analysis training for chemicals; and failure to keep the manufacturing area safe for workers from high levels of styrene. According to OSHA standards, a violation is serious when death or physical injury occurs by a hazard that employer knew or should have known.
Workers who work with chemicals like styrene should read OSHA guidelines for safety procedures; detailed information can be found here, www.osha.gov/SLTC/styrene. The employer also failed to maintain records and ignored labeling hazardous chemicals properly. OSHA has aligned Hazard Communication Standard with the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of chemicals. Labeling and SDS training requirements deadline for employers to train their workers is set on December 1, 2013 per OSHA.
Organizations whose operations involve hazardous chemicals should take serious note of this. Get your employees trained on the new GHS OSHA HazCom training standard to protect employees’ safety and health and prevent unnecessary exposures to hazardous chemicals. Compliance with OSHA is important but more importantly it will save lives.