Friday, October 11, 2013

Workers exposed to airborne contaminants at manufacturing plant

Fiberdome Inc. cited by OSHA for exposing workers to airborne hazards at Wisconsin manufacturing plant

LAKE MILLS, Wis. – Fiberdome Inc. has been cited by the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration for 10 health violations and $49,500 in penalties following a March investigation of the Lake Mills fiberglass manufacturing plant.
Employers need to protect
workers from toxic chemicals
and other health hazards.

Workers were exposed to styrene - a chemical used extensively in the manufacture of plastics, rubber and resins-in excess of permissible limits.

OSHA initiated the inspection after receiving a referral alleging workers were experiencing respiratory irritation due to chemical exposure.

"Workers at this manufacturing plant continue to be exposed to chemical hazards that can cause severe respiratory illness," said Kim Stille, OSHA area director in Madison. "Companies must be aware of the hazards that exist in their facilities and take all possible precautions to minimize the risk of illness."

Seven serious violations include allowing worker exposure to airborne concentrations of styrene in excess of recommended exposure limits, as well as failing to develop a written respirator protection program and provide adequate respiratory protection and training to workers.

Other violations involve failing to conduct a personal protection equipment hazards assessment and train workers on hazards associated with chemicals used in the factory; provide safety data sheets to a physician treating a worker for occupational illness; and to keep the production area free of excess fiberglass and styrene.

An OSHA violation is serious if death or serious physical harm could result from a hazard an employer knew or should have known exists.

Workers who make fiberglass products are potentially exposed to styrene. Health effects from exposure to styrene may involve the central nervous system and include complaints of headache, fatigue, dizziness, confusion, drowsiness, malaise, difficulty in concentrating, and a feeling of intoxication. For more information on this chemical, visit this page.

One repeat violation was cited for failing to require workers to use appropriate hand protection when exposed to hazardous chemicals. A similar violation was cited in 2011 at the same facility.

Two other-than-serious violations were cited for record-keeping deficiencies and failing to properly label containers carrying hazardous chemicals. An other-than-serious violation is one that has a direct relationship to job safety and health, but probably would not cause death or serious physical harm.

Fiberdome Inc. has 15 business days from receipt of its citations and penalties to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA's area director, or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

To report workplace accidents, fatalities, or situations posing imminent danger to workers, the public should call OSHA's toll-free hotline at 800-321-OSHA (6742) or the agency's Madison office at 608-441-5388.

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