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Over $120,000 in Penalties Proposed against Stan Chem, Inc.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) of the U.S. Labor Department has cited Stan Chem, Inc., an East Berlin, Connecticut, manufacturer of paints, polymers and fireproofing, for a total of thirty-four alleged Serious and Other than Serious violations of the Occupational Safety and Health Act and has proposed penalties totaling $120,250.
According to John J. Stanton, Jr., OSHA area director in Hartford, the alleged violations were discovered during an inspection initiated November 9, 1998, and chiefly concern improper storage and management of flammable liquids and failure to comply with OSHA's process safety management (PSM) standard, which is designed to prevent catastrophic releases of highly hazardous chemicals. Approximately 58 employees work at the plant which is located at 401 Berlin Street in East Berlin.
"Work with flammable and highly hazardous chemicals requires stringent and detailed safeguards because the inherent risks of fire, explosion or uncontrolled chemical release are so great," said Stanton. "In this case, the process involving the manufacture of the chemical compounds known as polymers is covered under the PSM standard. Yet, many of the basic safety steps required under the standard -- including analyzing the polymerization process to identify and address inherent hazards, developing written operating procedures to safely conduct the process as well as a written plan to manage changes to the process, ensuring employee training and performing a pre-startup safety review before using a new reactor for the process -- were not undertaken.
"In addition, the inspection identified numerous serious safety deficiencies involving the storage and management of sizable quantities of flammable liquids," he said. "These included storage tanks that were not built to industry standards, failure to pressure test tanks and pipelines, a lack of emergency drainage, inadequate ventilation, inadequate means of transferring flammable liquids and the use of unapproved fork trucks in locations with containers of flammable liquids or hazardous atmosphere."
The inspection also other deficiencies involving emergency response, hazard communication, exit access and the improper storage of oxidizers and organic peroxides.
Stanton noted that the considerable size of the fines proposed in this case reflect the breadth and severity of the conditions cited in the inspection:
"Left uncorrected, these conditions expose employees at this plant and outside contractor employees to the potential of death, burns or other severe injuries or illnesses resulting from catastrophic fire, explosion or chemical exposure."
Specifically, the citations and proposed penalties encompass the following:
Twenty-nine alleged Serious violations, with a proposed penalty of $120,250 for:
Process Safety Management: No analysis conducted to identify, evaluate and control hazards associated with the polymerization process; no written operating procedures for safely conducting the process; no written compilation of the technology and equipment used in the process, nor any written documentation that the equipment used complied with accepted engineering practices; no pre-startup safety review when a new reactor was used for the process; no written program to maintain the ongoing mechanical integrity of the equipment used in the process, nor any documentation of training in such a program; no written program to manage changes to the process; no written plan for implementing employee participation in PSM activities; no documentation of training for employees and outside work contractors and no program outlining safe work practices for outside contractors;
Flammable/Combustible liquids: Improper storage of oxidizers and organic peroxides; flammable liquid tanks not built to recognized industry standards; tanks located inside building; tanks vented to inside the building; tanks lacking heat-actuated self-closing valves on drains; no means to prevent overfilling of tanks; tanks supported on wooden timbers; tanks not strength tested; piping for flammable liquid lines not pressure tested; large quantities of flammable liquids transferred by gravity; vapors from outside storage tanks vent back into the building; no emergency drainage in areas where flammable liquids are used or stored; inadequate ventilation for such areas; flammable liquid truck unloading stations located less than 25 feet from building; flammable liquid pipe located directly under windows; flammable liquid storage container not grounded or bonded during transfer; no self-closing faucets when transferring flammable liquids between containers; no explosion-proof wiring in areas where flammable vapors are present in abnormal circumstances;
Spray booths: sprinkler removed from a spray booth; sprinklers improperly placed in spray booth; excess amounts of flammable methyl ethyl ketone stored near a spray booth;
Emergency Response: No medical surveillance for Hazardous Materials response team; no appropriate training for incident commander and HazMat technicians; incorrect respirator specified in written program;
Hazard Communication: No initial monitoring or emergency action plan for acrylonitrile; no identification or warning labels on containers of hazardous chemicals; no written chemical hygiene program;
Fork trucks: Fork trucks in use were not approved for use in hazardous atmosphere or areas where flammable liquids are present or to transport flammable liquids in sealed containers; missing emergency brake on a fork truck;
Guarding: no magnetic starter on a table saw, no spindle guard on a bench grinder, no work rest on a bench grinder;
Housekeeping: Wet and slippery floors in the reactor area.
Exit access: A broken fire door wired open and with doorway obstructed by hose.
Five alleged Other than Serious violations, with no penalties proposed, for:
combustible wastes allowed to accumulate in flammable storage area; combustible residues allowed to accumulate in paint spray booth; improper respirator storage; beards worn with respirators; and no tripod and winch available for confined space rescue.
Stanton urged Connecticut employers and employees with questions regarding workplace safety and health standards to contact the OSHA area offices in Hartford or Bridgeport and added that OSHA's toll-free, nationwide hotline --1-800-321-OSHA (1-800-321-6742)-- may be used to report workplace accidents or fatalities or situations posing imminent danger to workers, especially if they occur outside of normal business hours.
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. An other-than-serious violation is a condition which would probably not cause death or serious physical harm but would have a direct and immediate relationship to the safety and health of employees.
OSHA is empowered by the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 to issue standards and rules requiring employers to provide their employees with safe and healthful workplaces and jobsites, and to assure through workplace inspections that those standards are followed.
The company has 15 working days from receipt of the 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 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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