US Osha to fine plastics producer over January fire

04 April 2002 22:48  [Source: ICIS news]

WASHINGTON (CNI)--The US Occupational Safety and Health Administration (Osha) said Thursday it will fine a plastics manufacturer $33 000 (Euro37 500) for alleged safety rules violations related to an explosion and fire in January.

In a proposed settlement, Osha said it cited Saint Gobain Performance Plastics Inc of New Haven, Connecticut for alleged multiple and serious violations of the federal job safety law.

Osha began its inspection on 23 January 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 fibreglass cloth. The coating operation uses large amounts of toluene.

"Our inspection found that the company had no written procedures instructing workers on how to safely perform the splicing," said Robert Kowalski, Osha area director in Bridgeport, Connecticut.

Osha's process safety management standard requires that employers establish and use such procedures for any process that involves large amounts of toxic, flammable, reactive or explosive chemicals. As a result, Osha 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.

Osha previously issued citations in May 1999 when the facility was operating under the name Furon.

Saint Gobain Performance Plastics also faces a $3500 fine for an alleged serious violation for obstructed ventilation in one work area.

The company has 15 days to respond to the Osha proposed settlement; it may accept the proposed fines and pay them or contest the proposed settlement in administrative proceedings.


By: Glenn Hess
+1 713 525 2653



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