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Region 5


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Nov. 12, 2014

Workers cleaning chemical spill at Portage, Wisconsin,
plastics plant lacked training, personal protective equipment
Penda Corp. cited for 7 violations, OSHA proposes fines of $49,000

PORTAGE, Wis. – Workers cleaning a chemical spill at Penda Corp. in Portage had not been trained in proper cleanup procedures or provided proper personal protective equipment, according to an investigation by the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration. OSHA found that workers experienced symptoms of overexposure to an isocyanates chemical used in plastics manufacturing that can cause occupational asthma and other lung problems, as well as irritation of the eyes, nose, throat and skin. Seven serious violations, carrying proposed penalties of $49,000, were cited.

OSHA initiated the inspection on Sept. 5, 2014, under the National Emphasis Program for Occupational Exposure to Isocyanates*, after it received a complaint that alleged improper cleanup of a spill of approximately 100 gallons of the chemical diphenylmethane diisocyanate, a type of isocyanate.

"An employer, who works with hazardous chemicals, has a responsibility to train workers in proper chemical handling and how to respond to spills and other emergencies," said Kim Stille, OSHA's area director in Madison. "Common safety precautions, including protective clothing and respirators, prevent injuries and illnesses and must be part of the daily routine of workers in such manufacturing environments."

OSHA cited the company for seven serious violations for lack of a hazardous materials spill response plan and failure to train workers on how to respond to spills. Additionally, required personal protective equipment, such as gloves and respirators, was not provided. 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.

Penda Corp. manufactures plastic thermoformed products for various markets, including the automotive industry and for material handling. 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 Madison Area Office at 608-441-5388.

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: 14-2038-CHI


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