Poor Training for Chem Spill Workers: OSHA

Monday, November 17, 2014 @ 12:11 PM gHale

Workers cleaning a chemical spill at Penda Corp. in Portage, WI, did not receive proper training in cleanup procedures or did not get proper personal protective equipment, said officials at the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).

As a result, OSHA found workers experienced symptoms of overexposure to an isocyanates chemical used in plastics manufacturing that can cause occupational asthma and other lung problems, as well as irritation of the eyes, nose, throat and skin. Seven serious violations led to OSHA fining the company $49,000.

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Penda Corp. manufactures plastic thermoformed products for various markets, including the automotive industry and for material handling.

OSHA initiated the inspection on Sept. 5 under the National Emphasis Program for Occupational Exposure to Isocyanates, after it received a complaint saying there was an improper cleanup of a spill of 100 gallons of the chemical diphenylmethane diisocyanate, a type of isocyanate.

“An employer, who works with hazardous chemicals, has a responsibility to train workers in proper chemical handling and how to respond to spills and other emergencies,” said Kim Stille, OSHA’s area director in Madison. “Common safety precautions, including protective clothing and respirators, prevent injuries and illnesses and must be part of the daily routine of workers in such manufacturing environments.”

OSHA cited the company for seven serious violations for lack of a hazardous materials spill response plan and failure to train workers on how to respond to spills. Additionally, the company did not provide required personal protective equipment, such as gloves and respirators. 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.

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