Safety Fines after Worker Fatality

Friday, May 18, 2012 @ 03:05 PM gHale


Theresa, WI-based Vivid Image Inc. is facing fines of $64,600 for 12 safety violations after a worker died and another ended up hospitalized from chemical exposure last fall.

The violations include two willful violations involving workers not wearing respiratory protection while working with the chemical toluene and exposure to the chemical beyond peak levels, said Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) officials.

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Roman Torres, 55, of Horicon, died at the manufacturing plant, while his boss, Thomas Persha, 65, also of Horicon, went to an area hospital for treatment.

In a 911 call at 3:36 p.m. on Nov. 29, Cindy Persha reported to a Dodge County, WI, dispatcher that she could see her husband and Torres through a window, lying motionless on the floor of the coating room at the plant just north of Theresa.

A willful violation is an intentional, knowing or voluntary disregard for the law’s requirements, or with plain indifference to worker safety and health, said Kim Stille, OSHA area director in Madison.

OSHA guidelines limit peak toluene exposure to 10 minutes per single time period for any eight-hour shift, with a time weighted average exposure of 200 parts per million. Toluene is a clear, colorless liquid and a common solvent for products such as paints, thinners and glues. Vivid Image specializes in coating production and micro screens.

“Vivid Image has a responsibility to monitor workers’ exposure to known chemicals in its facility, ensure usage of protective equipment and train workers in workplace hazards,” Stille said.

The investigation following the fatality turned up 10 serious safety and health violations including a failure to: Reasonably evaluate toluene air concentrations; shut off the ventilation system and block the exhaust duct while applying screen coating material containing toluene; disallow ignition sources inside the coating room where flammable material mixed and applied; develop and implement a written hazard communication program; provide worker training on physical and health hazards of coating material; properly store flammable liquids; provide guarding on a table saw; prevent exposed electrical wires; and provide forklift truck training, according to the OSHA report.

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, according to OSHA.



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