March 1, 2012 • Volume 11, Issue 5
OSHA cites 2 companies, proposes $288,000 in fines for workplace safety and health violations involving foreign students
OSHA has cited Exel Inc. for nine, including six willful, workplace safety and health violations at the Eastern Distribution Center III, a facility in Palmyra, Pa., owned by the Hershey Co. and operated by Exel. Proposed penalties total $283,000. OSHA also has cited the SHS Group LP, doing business as SHS Staffing Solutions, for one violation with a proposed penalty of $5,000.
OSHA's inspection was conducted in response to a complaint filed by the National Guestworker Alliance on behalf of a group of foreign students who were performing summer jobs at the Palmyra facility under the U.S. Department of State's J-1 visa program. Under a contract with Exel, SHS Staffing Solutions hired the students to work at the Palmyra site repackaging Hershey candies for promotional displays. See the news release for more information.
OSHA-NIOSH report on dangers of methylene chloride in bathtub refinishing
In a new article, OSHA, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) and Michigan's Fatality Assessment and Control Evaluation (FACE) program report on the hazards of using methylene chloride-based stripping products in bathtub refinishing.
Investigators have identified more than a dozen deaths in the last 12 years associated with the use of methylene chloride in bathtub refinishing. In November 2011, Michigan's FACE program issued a Hazard Alert (PDF*) encouraging employers to consider alternative methods of bathtub stripping.
Methylene chloride is a volatile solvent and cancer-causing chemical that is easily absorbed into the body through the lungs and skin. Short-term exposures to high levels can cause headaches, fatigue, dizziness and lack of coordination. Methylene chloride is metabolized in the body to carbon monoxide, which may lead to irregular heart rhythms, heart attacks and sudden death. If workers use methylene chloride-based products, OSHA's Methylene Chloride standard (29 CFR 1910.1052) requires employers to protect and train workers exposed to these hazards
Florida aluminum fabricator, Mississippi lumber company and Wisconsin powdered milk producer cited by OSHA for combustible dust and other hazards
Fritz Aluminum Services Inc. has been cited by OSHA with 37 violations for exposing workers to a variety of safety and health hazards, including combustible dust accumulations, at the company's Eustis, Fla., facility. OSHA opened an inspection in September after receiving a complaint. Proposed penalties total $139,800. Due to the repeat violations and the nature of the hazards, OSHA has placed Fritz Aluminum Services in its Severe Violator Enforcement Program, which mandates targeted follow-up inspections to ensure compliance with the law. See the news release for more details.
In addition, OSHA has cited Franklin Lumber Co. in Bude, Miss., for 22 safety violations. OSHA initiated its inspection as part of the agency's National Emphasis Program to reduce workers' exposure to combustible dust hazards. Sixteen serious violations include management's failure to prevent accumulations of combustible dust; provide guardrails around equipment; remove defective industrial trucks from service; and provide proper machine guards. Proposed penalties total $103,356. See the news release for more information.
OSHA has also cited Milk Specialties Co. with three safety violations, including one willful violation for combustible dust hazards. OSHA opened an inspection following a report of a fire resulting from a dust explosion in a machine at the company's Fond du Lac, Wis., facility, which converts liquid whey products into dried whey protein concentrate powder. Proposed fines total $72,000. Details of the violations and a related U.S. District Court hearing are available in the news release.
Combustible dust explosions have killed scores of workers and injured hundreds over the past few decades. For more information, visit OSHA's Combustible Dust page.
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