March 21, 2016
Wood décor, floral supplier failed to prevent workers from exposure
to hazardous chemicals at Glidden, Wisconsin company
OSHA proposes fines of Winter Woods $70K for safety failures
GLIDDEN, Wis. - A Wisconsin wood décor and floral supplier exposed workers to toxic levels of chemicals in adhesives and paints because, federal inspectors determined, the workplace lacked adequate engineering controls needed to reduce harmful vapors.
On March 24, the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration cited Winter Woods Inc. for 10 serious safety violations based on the findings of its Oct. 15, 2015, investigation.
Agency inspectors found a lack of sufficient engineering controls allowed employees to suffer exposure to toluene and xylene, chemicals commonly used in paints and adhesives, at the company's Glidden facility. Excessive toluene and xylene exposure can cause headache, weakness, confusion, muscle fatigue as well as damage to the liver and kidneys.
OSHA has proposed penalties of $70,000.
"Exposing employees to two hazardous chemicals at levels exceeding permissible exposure jeopardizes workers' safety and health," said Mark Hysell, OSHA's area director in Eau Claire. "Employers working with hazardous materials must determine the dangers that chemicals present before exposing employees to them. The employer must ensure engineering controls, work practices and personal protective equipment requirements are in place and in use to minimize exposure to toxins and protect their workers."
Investigators found Winter Woods failed to:
- Provide a working environment free from recognized hazards.
- Implement engineering controls to prevent employee from over exposure to hazardous chemicals.
- Identify and evaluate respiratory hazards.
- Complete employee medical evaluations and fit workers for respirators.
- Properly store chemicals.
- Train employees about hazardous chemicals used in the workplace.
View current citations here*.
Based in Glidden, Winter Woods is a specialty wood and floral company that makes wreaths, scented pine cone, birch, fire starters and other products for wholesale to nurseries, garden centers and for use in fundraising. The company has 15 business days from receipt of its citations and penalties to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA's area director in Eau Claire, or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.
To ask questions, obtain compliance assistance, file a complaint, or report amputations, eye loss, 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 Eau Claire office at 715-832-9019.
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: 16-641-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).
*Accessibility Assistance: Contact OSHA's Office of Communications at 202-693-1999 for assistance accessing PDF materials.