OSHA News Release - (Archived) Table of Contents|
The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration today cited Specialty Fixtures, Inc., and proposed penalties totaling $154,800 for safety and health violations at the company's Gwinnett County facility.
According to Ray Finney, OSHA's Atlanta-East Area Director, the inspection began in response to a safety complaint and was expanded to include health items after the OSHA inspector observed several health hazards.
Following the inspections at the plant, OSHA cited the company and proposed penalties totaling $126,000 for three willful health violations:
- exposing employees to excessive levels of the hazardous chemical methylene chloride without effective engineering controls and without required respiratory protection;
- failure to establish a monitoring program to periodically audit employee exposure to methylene chloride, and
- failure to adequately inform and train employees about the use of hazardous materials.
Additional penalties totaling $14,100 were proposed for five serious health violations involving failure to provide: a regulated area and a medical surveillance program for employees exposed to methylene chloride; a workplace hazard assessment program, and personal protective equipment and eye protection for employees involved in spraying glue, cutting wood and using nail guns.
OSHA's safety inspection of the plant resulted in penalties of $14,700 for eight serious violations including:
- spraying flammable materials in an area with open flames;
- using PVC pipe to transport compressed air without encasing the pipe in a proper conduit;
- blocking emergency fire exits;
- improperly dispensing flammable liquids, and
- operating nail guns and radial-arm saws without safety devices.
"Company officials had been advised of hazards associated with the use of methylene chloride during a 1997 safety and health inspection," said Finney. "At that time, the company signed an agreement to abate the conditions for which they were cited."
Finney continued, "OSHA has particular concerns when an employer signs an agreement to abate hazards and then fails to honor it. This company knew what the hazards were and did little to correct them."
A willful violation is one committed with an intentional disregard of, or plain indifference to, the requirements of the OSH Act and regulations.
OSHA defines a serious violation as one in which there is substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result and that the employer knew or should have known of the hazard.
Specialty Fixtures employs about 90 workers at the Gwinnett facility to manufacture cabinets for business offices and industrial displays. The company has 15 working days to contest OSHA's citations and proposed penalties before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.
Inspections of the worksite were conducted by OSHA's Atlanta-East area office located at LaVista Perimeter Office Park, Building 7, Suite 110, Tucker, Ga. 30084; phone: (770) 493-6644/6742.
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