US Department of Labor's OSHA cites Houston, Texas, recycling plant
for exposing workers to multiple safety and health hazards
HOUSTON – The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration has cited Petag Corp. for 31 safety and health violations at the company's recycling plant on Lyons Avenue in Houston. OSHA began its investigation in August in response to a complaint, and found workers exposed to sulfuric acid and caustic soda while recovering silver from X-ray film and processing plastics for recycling. Proposed penalties total $144,760.
OSHA's Houston North Area Office cited Petag for 15 serious violations, including failing to follow manufacturers' safety requirements for operating a furnace; provide handrails on industrial stairways; provide personal protective equipment, such as safety glasses and gloves; provide warning signs for permit-required confined spaces; provide hazard communication training; ensure the use of seatbelts while operating a forklift; and provide machine guarding for chains, sprockets, pulleys and shaft ends. 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.
Seven repeat violations include failing to provide sanitary washing facilities as well as access to eyewash and shower stations; provide fall protection, such as standard guardrails or fall arrest devices, when employees are working on platforms; provide training on lockout/tagout procedures for machines' energy sources; and provide the required machine guarding. A repeat violation exists when an employer previously has been cited for the same or a similar violation of a standard, regulation, rule or order at any other facility in federal enforcement states within the last five years. OSHA cited the company for similar violations in 2006.
Eight other-than-serious violations include failing to provide required information for voluntary respirator use, and injury and illness record-keeping deficiencies. An other-than-serious violation is one that has a direct relationship to job safety and health, but probably would not cause death or serious physical harm.
"This employer has repeatedly exposed its workers to possible injuries and illnesses," said David Doucet, OSHA's area director for the Houston North office. "Such disregard for workers' safety and health will not be tolerated."
The citations can be viewed at http://www.osha.gov/ooc/citations/Petag-Corp_315675413_1221_11.pdf* and http://www.osha.gov/ooc/citations/Petag-Corp_315675421_1221_11.pdf*
Petag Corp. has 15 business days from receipt of the citations to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA's area director in Houston, or contest the citations and penalties 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), the agency's Houston North Area Office at 281-591-2438 or its Houston South Area Office at 281-286-0583.
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.
U.S. Department of Labor news materials are accessible at http://www.dol.gov. The information above is available in large print, Braille, audio tape or disc from the COAST office upon request by calling 202-693-7828 or TTY 202-693-7755.
* Accessibility Assistance: Contact OSHA's Office of Communications at 202-693-1999 for assistance accessing PDF documents.