Feb. 9, 2015
Reynolds Nationwide exposes workers to dangerous fumes
in food transport tankers at London, Ohio, facility
Freight-handling company faces $179K in penalties for 2 willful, 6 serious violations
LONDON, Ohio – Employees at Reynolds Nationwide risked potentially lethal suffocation caused by dangerous fumes as the company did not test the atmosphere and properly ventilate the air in food transport tankers before allowing workers to enter. After receiving an employee complaint, the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration initiated an investigation on Aug. 6, 2014, at the London tank-cleaning facility.
"Fumes can reach dangerous levels in confined spaces, and that puts workers in real and immediate danger," said Deborah Zubaty, OSHA's area director in Columbus. "Reynolds Nationwide failed to implement training and procedures to protect workers entering these tanks, and that is unacceptable."
OSHA's investigation found that Reynolds did not ventilate the tankers to eliminate and control atmospheric hazards and failed to test and monitor the atmospheric conditions in the tankers before allowing workers to enter and clean them. Employees were also exposed to fall hazards of nearly 11 feet while cleaning the tankers, resulting in the issuance of the two willful violations.
A willful violation is one committed with intentional, knowing or voluntary disregard for the law's requirement, or with plain indifference to worker safety and health.
OSHA regulations require that the atmosphere in a confined space must be tested for oxygen, combustible gases, toxic gases and vapors. Steps must also be taken to ensure the atmospheric conditions are safe before a worker enters the space. A confined space is one large enough for workers to enter and perform certain jobs, such as cleaning a food transport tanker, but it has limited or restricted means for entry or exit and is not designed for continuous occupancy.
The agency determined that Reynolds Nationwide failed to develop a confined space entry permit program to include training workers on hazards, procedures for summoning emergency services and providing monitors when an employee entered a confined space. Electrical safety violations were also noted. A total of six serious citations were issued for these violations.
An OSHA violation is serious if death or serious physical harm could result from a hazard an employer knew or should have known exists.
Exposure to harmful substances and environments accounted for 330 fatal occupational injuries* in the United States in 2013.
View the current citations at http://www.osha.gov/ooc/citations/REYNOLDSNATIONWIDE_989312_0130_15.pdf*
Based in San Antonio, Reynolds Nationwide employs about 750 workers corporatewide and 10 at the London location. The company has 15 business days from receipt of its citations and penalties to comply, request an informal conference 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, fatalities or situations posing imminent danger to workers, the public should call OSHA's toll-free hotline at 800-321-OSHA (6742) or the agency's Columbus Area Office at 614-469-5582.
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.
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Release Number: 15-145-CHI
U.S. Department of Labor news materials are accessible at http://www.dol.gov. The department's Reasonable Accommodation Resource Center converts departmental information and documents into alternative formats, which include Braille and large print. For alternative format requests, please contact the department at (202) 693-7828 (voice) or (800) 877-8339 (federal relay).
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