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OSHA News Release – Region 5
U.S. Department of Labor
Region 5 News Release V-262
June 12, 2003
Contact: Brad Mitchell
Treatment Process Leads to Employee Exposure, OSHA Fine
CINCINNATI -- A Dec. 11, 2002 release of hydrogen sulfide gas in Cincinnati that sickened one worker and prompted inquiries from several area environmental, safety and health agencies has now resulted in a $135,600 proposed fine by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), the U.S. Labor Department agency announced today.
OSHA opened an investigation following notification that a worker who entered a waste treatment area operated by Environmental Enterprises, Inc., Cincinnati, became ill as a result of exposure to hydrogen sulfide gas on Dec. 11. The hydrogen sulfide release was due to the failure of the company to ensure that sodium sulfide was dissolved prior to adding it to treatment tanks, according to OSHA, which fined the company for failing to train and ensure that the release of the chemical was avoided, as well as for deficiencies in its hydrogen sulfide alarm system.
"This is not the first time this company has had incidents related to the release of hydrogen sulfide," said U.S. Secretary of Labor Elaine L. Chao. "OSHA's job is to protect the health and safety of workers, and we want to work with employers to achieve that goal. But, when the employer fails to do their part in this effort, they'll find us ready to fully enforce our standards."
Environmental Enterprises, Inc. is a hazardous waste cleanup and detoxification company employing some 60 workers in their Cincinnati location out of 183 employees company-wide. The business has been inspected by OSHA 12 times since 1986 with resulting citations for deficiencies in fall protection respiratory protection, hazardous waste operations and other workplace safety and health problems.
According to OSHA Area Director Richard Gilgrist, Cincinnati, the company has 15 working days from receipt of the citations to appeal before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.
OSHA is dedicated to saving lives, preventing injuries and illnesses and protecting America's workers. Safety and health add value to business, the workplace and life. For more information, visit www.osha.gov.
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