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OSHA News Release
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Region 5


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Sept. 15, 2014

Workers exposed to combustible dust, amputation and other serious
hazards at Ravenna, Ohio, rubber products plant

RAVENNA, Ohio – Portage Precision Polymers of Ravenna has been cited for 15 serious safety and health violations, carrying proposed penalties of $61,600, by the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration after a complaint prompted an inspection. Many of the citations issued to the rubber products manufacturing plant were for exposing workers to combustible dust and amputation hazards*.

"Combustible dust can burn rapidly and explode with little warning, putting workers at risk for severe injury and death," said Howard Eberts, OSHA's area director in Cleveland. "OSHA's inspection found that Portage Precision Polymers used potential ignition sources, like powered industrial trucks and electrical equipment, in areas where combustible dust was present. This is dangerous and unacceptable."

OSHA's March 13, 2014, inspection found workers were exposed to the combustible dust while working in the facility. For the exposure, the company was cited with one serious violation. If this dust is suspended in the air in the right concentration, under certain conditions, it can become explosive. The force from such an explosion can cause employee deaths, injuries and destruction of buildings. The U.S. Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board identified 281 combustible dust incidents between 1980 and 2005 that led to the deaths of 119 workers, injured 718 and extensively damaged numerous industrial facilities.

Additional serious violations involved amputation hazards, including lack of machine guarding, and failing to implement specific lockout/tagout procedures to prevent machinery from operating during service and maintenance. Portage Precision Polymers failed to perform periodic inspections of overhead cranes and provide fall protection to workers exposed to falls of more than 5 feet while climbing on top of storage tanks.

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.

Portage Precision Polymers 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 Cleveland Area Office at 216-447-4194.

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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Media Contacts:

Scott Allen, 312-353-6976, allen.scott@dol.gov
Rhonda Burke, 312-353-6976, burke.rhonda@dol.gov

Release Number: 14-1684-CHI


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