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Region 1 News Release: 10-38-BOS/BOS 2010-046
Tues., Jan. 26, 2010
Contact: Ted Fitzgerald
Phone: 617-565-2074

US Labor Department's OSHA proposes $90,500 in fines against Fibrelite for fire and explosion hazards at Pawcatuck, Conn., plant

HARTFORD, Conn. - The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has cited Fibrelite for 21 alleged violations of workplace safety standards at its Pawcatuck, Conn., plant. The manufacturer of composite manhole covers faces a total of $90,500 in proposed fines, chiefly for potential fire and explosion hazards.

OSHA's inspection found that combustible particulate solids, which were generated during trimming and repair operations, were not collected into an adequately designed dust collection system, were allowed to accumulate on machinery and surfaces, and were not adequately cleaned up to prevent such buildup. The combustible material was exposed to several potential ignition sources, including an LP gas-powered industrial truck, exposed wiring and a spark producing tool.

"A combustible dust explosion can be a catastrophic and fatal event, yet its dangers can be minimized if employers identify and promptly address combustible dust hazards," said Robert Kowalski, OSHA's acting area director in Hartford. "An effective dust collection system, proper industrial hygiene and frequent cleaning are critical to preventing a dangerous and potentially fatal buildup of combustible dust in the workplace."

Other hazards identified during OSHA's inspection include improper storage of waste material saturated with combustible residue, flammable liquid waste allowed to drip into an open bucket, inadequate precautions to avoid ignition sources for flammable liquids, a spray booth lacking a sprinkler and adequate grounding, a lack of an emergency action plan, unguarded power presses, a lack of specific energy control procedures for various machines, excess air pressure for a cleaning hose and several electrical hazards.

These conditions resulted in Fibrelite being issued 20 serious citations with $89,500 in fines. The company also has been issued one other-than-serious citation, with a $1,000 fine, for incorrectly recording injuries and illnesses. OSHA issues serious citations when death or serious physical harm is likely to result from hazards about which the employer knew or should have known.

Detailed information on combustible dust hazards and safeguards, including a concise fact sheet, is available online at and

Fibrelite has 15 business days from receipt of its citations and proposed penalties to comply, schedule an informal conference with OSHA's area director or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission. The inspection was conducted by OSHA's Hartford Area Office; telephone 860-240-3152.

Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, OSHA's role is to promote safe and healthful working conditions for America's working men and women by setting and enforcing standards, and providing training, outreach and education. For more information, visit


U.S. Department of Labor releases are accessible on the Internet at The information in this news release will be made available in alternate format (large print, Braille, audiotape or disc) from the COAST office upon request. Please specify which news release when placing your request at 202-693-7828 or TTY 202-693-7755. The Labor Department is committed to providing America's employers and employees with easy access to understandable information on how to comply with its laws and regulations. For more information, please visit

OSHA News Release - Table of Contents

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