Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Recycling plant fined for lack of respiratory protection

Companies may have to pay large fines
if they fail to protect workers.
EAST TROY, Wis. – Strategic Materials Inc., a glass and plastic recycling company, has been cited for 11 health violations carrying proposed fines of $82,000.

The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration found a repeat violation involving the company's failure to develop and implement a respiratory protection program following a May complaint inspection of the East Troy facility.

"Strategic Materials must protect the respiratory health of its workers and maintain a workplace free of known hazards," said Kim Stille, OSHA's area director in Madison. "As one of the nation's leading recycling companies, it should know the hazards unique to the industry."

A repeat violation exists when an employer previously has been cited for the same or a similar violation of a standard, regulation, rule or order at any facility in federal enforcement states within the last five years.

Similar violations were cited in August 2012 at the company's Sarasota, Fla., facility.

Nine serious violations include failing to prevent workplace exposure to airborne concentrations of dust and lead above the eight-hour time-weighted average limit; prevent excessive accumulation of combustible dust; provide respiratory protection; have a hearing conservation program; implement engineering controls for dust accumulation; and have training on the bloodborne pathogen standards and hazardous chemicals in use in the workplace.

A serious violation occurs when there is substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result from a hazard about which the employer knew or should have known.

One other-than-serious violation involves failing to train forklift operators. 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.

The Houston-based company has 15 business days from receipt of the citations and proposed 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. Previously inspected by OSHA at several of its 40 locations nationwide, this was the first at the company's East Troy facility.

Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their employees. OSHA's role is to ensure these conditions for America's working men and women by setting and enforcing standards, and providing training, education and assistance. For more information, visit

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