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Region 1 News Release: BOS 2002-066
April 3, 2002
Contact: Ted Fitzgerald
PHONE: (617) 565-2074
New Haven Plastics Manufacturer Faces Over $33,000
In Penalties After Explosion And Fire
BRIDGEPORT, Conn. -- An explosion and fire at a New Haven, Conn., plastics manufacturer and its apparent failure to adequately address safety issues involving a hazardous chemical has resulted in proposed fines of more than $33,000 against the company.
The U.S. Labor Department's Occupational Safety and Health Administration has cited Saint Gobain Performance Plastics, Inc. for alleged repeat and serious violations of the Occupational Safety and Health Act at its 407 Main Street plant.
OSHA began its inspection on Jan. 23, after the New Haven fire marshal notified the agency about an explosion and fire that occurred in the plant's coating department while employees were splicing together rolls of coated fiberglass cloth. The coating operation uses large amounts of toluene, a flammable and toxic chemical.
"Our inspection found that the company had no written procedures instructing workers on how to safely perform the splicing," said Robert W. Kowalski, OSHA area director in Bridgeport. "OSHA's process safety management standard requires that employers establish and use such procedures for any process that involves large quantities of toxic, flammable, reactive or explosive chemicals."
As a result OSHA has cited the company for an alleged repeat violation and proposed a fine of $17,500. A second repeat citation, with a $12,500 proposed fine, was issued for inadequate hazard analysis, because the company did not include sampling for toluene when assessing the need for respirators for employees working in the coating department.
A repeat citation is issued when a substantially similar violation has been cited during a previous OSHA inspection and that citation has become final. Citations had previously been issued at this location in May 1999, when the facility was operating under the name FURON.
The company also faces a $3,500 fine for an alleged serious violation for obstructed ventilation in one work area. A serious violation is defined by OSHA as one in which there is a substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result, and the employer knew, or should have known, of the hazard.
The company has 15 business days from receipt of its citations and proposed penalties to either elect to comply with them, to request and participate in an informal conference with the OSHA area director, or to contest them before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission. The inspection was conducted by the OSHA Area Office in Bridgeport, Conn. The telephone number is (203 ) 579-5581.
The information in this release will be made available to sensory impaired individuals upon request. Voice phone: (617) 565-2072. TDD (Telecommunications Device for the Deaf) Message Referral Phone: 800-347-8029.
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