Jan. 22, 2015
OSHA finds Zimmer TMT workers lacked training and plan to respond
when chlorine gas leaked at Parsippany, NJ plant
Accidental leak sickens 4 employees and results in $56,000 in fines
PARSIPPANY, N.J. – Workers were unprepared to respond to an accidental release of dangerous chlorine gas, leading to the evacuation and emergency medical treatment for several employees at Zimmer TMT's plant in Parsippany, an investigation by the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration found.
Employees were moving a chlorine gas cylinder without a valve protective cap on Sept. 13, 2014, when the container fell and began to leak. Lacking training in how to respond, no emergency response plan in place and inadequate respiratory protection, the workers were sickened as they tried to contain the leak.
Four workers were transported to the hospital for observation and were treated and released later that day. Multiple workers were evaluated by Emergency Medical Services at the scene but did not require hospitalization.
"Zimmer TMT is in the business of healthcare and should be aware of the potential health and safety hazards to which its employees could be exposed," said Kris Hoffman, director of OSHA's Parsippany Area Office. "Chlorine gas is poisonous and can cause death. Employers using highly hazardous chemicals absolutely must be prepared for emergencies, and this company clearly was not."
OSHA cited Zimmer for 10 serious violations - several which directly contributed to the leak - has levied $56,000 in penalties. The orthopedic device manufacturer was found to have lacked an adequate emergency response plan, allowed exit routes to be obstructed, machines to operate without proper safety mechanisms, and several electrical hazards to exist.
A serious violation occurs when there is substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result from a hazard about which the employer knew or should have known.
Zimmer Holdings Inc., doing business as Zimmer TMT, has 15 business days from receipt of its citations and proposed penalties to comply, meet informally with OSHA's area director, or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.
To ask questions, obtain compliance assistance, file a complaint or report workplace hospitalizations, amputations, fatalities or situations posing imminent danger to workers, the public should call OSHA's toll-free hotline at 800-321-OSHA (6742) or the Parsippany Area Office at 973-263-1003.
Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their employees. OSHA's role is to ensure these conditions for America's working men and women by setting and enforcing standards, and providing training, education and assistance. For more information, visit http://www.osha.gov.
Release Number: 15-46-NEW (osha 15-005)
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