OSHA News Release - (Archived) Table of Contents|
The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration has cited Sharp Corporation, Conshohocken, Pa., for alleged safety and health violations and proposed $225,000 in penalties. The company is a packaging contractor employing 430 workers at its Conshohocken facility.
OSHA initiated an investigation on February 17, 2000 in response to an employee complaint alleging that workers were not informed about the chemicals they were handling, or the hazards associated with those chemicals.
Approximately 25 employees work on the packaging of 17 Beta Estradiol Benzoate and Norgestimate-two sex hormones approved by the Federal Drug Administration in October 1999. Exposure to these hormones above the set Occupational Exposure Limit can cause adverse health effects to employees, including damage to the reproductive system.
According to George Tomchick, area director of the Allentown OSHA office, the company was cited for two serious violations, with a total penalty of $10,000 and four willful violations, with a total penalty of $215,000.
The willful citations address the company's failure to provide eye or face protection to guard against chemicals which target the eyes and may be absorbed through the skin and mucous membranes; failure to provide appropriate respirators for employees exposed to chemicals 35 to 150 times the industry-established exposure limit; failure to provide exposure records upon request and failure to provide hazard communication training for employees exposed to 17 Beta Estradiol Benzoate and Norgestimate.
The serious violations are due to the company allowing employee exposure to the hormones to exceed industry-established limits and its failure to conduct a hazard assessment to determine adequate protective equipment for employees.
"By not adhering to industry guidelines, the company took unnecessary chances with the health and safety of the workers exposed to these hormones," says Tomchick.
Willful violations are those committed with an intentional disregard of, or plain indifference to, the requirements of the Occupational Safety and Health Act. A serious violation occurs when 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 working days from receipt of the citations to decide to comply, request an informal conference with the OSHA area director, or to contest the citations and proposed penalties before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.
The investigation was conducted by the Allentown Area Office, 850 North 5th Street, Allentown, Pa. 18102, (610) 776-0592.
This information will be made available to sensory-impaired individuals upon request. Telecommunications Device for the Deaf. Telephone: (800) 927-9273.
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