Safety Fines for Hazardous Waste Operator

Thursday, August 9, 2012 @ 06:08 PM gHale

East Liverpool, OH-based Heritage-WTI Inc. which operates a hazardous waste incinerator faces fines of more than $150,000 for failing to review and annually certify operating procedures for the process of safety management of hazardous chemicals, said Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) officials.

Heritage-WTI earned a citation for willful violation. A willful violation is one committed with intentional knowing or voluntary disregard for the law’s requirements, or with plain indifference to worker safety and health, OSHA said.

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“Employers must provide safe working conditions, especially for employees who work with highly hazardous chemicals,” said Howard Eberts, OSHA’s area director. “These citations basically mean that Heritage-WTI failed to create safety procedures and then review those procedures to ensure their effectiveness.”

A safety inspection in December 2011 occurred after an employee died while manually separating the contents of 55-gallon drums containing metal wastes and residue.

In that incident, Thomas Bailey, 52, of Glenmoor, died when two explosions occurred, causing a flash fire. His was the first employee death at the facility.

Another man suffered an injury in the same incident. In March of this year, three employees ended up in the hospital after becoming ill while working with a chemical used in a variety of ways, including blue jean dye, polyurethane and medications.

The December inspection resulted in a June 12 notice from OSHA containing citations for nine violations, most deemed serious and carrying fines totaling $30,600.

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.

Among the serious violations, the company did not ensure employees performing splitting operations on 55-gallon metal drums containing metal wastes had protection from combustible metals deflagration, explosion or other fire hazards.

That citation noted the company allowed employees to use steel garden hoes and shovels and failed to bond and ground the equipment.

Among citations from that inspection were those involving lack of training, unguarded floor openings and ladderways, failure to develop and implement an emergency response plan, no periodic inspections of energy control procedures for equipment and unguarded roller conveyors.

There were also several “other-than-serious” violations.

A health inspection took place in February as a follow-up to the December safety review, resulting in the above-mentioned “willful” violation carrying the $63,000 fine and 10 “serious” violations for which the company faces an additional $63,000 fine for a total of $126,000.

The serious violations from the health inspection involve failing to conduct a process hazard analysis on the kiln, provide documentation proving the kiln complies with good engineering practices, address problems found in process hazard analyses and correct deficiencies in the kiln’s written operating procedures.

According to a prepared statement from Heritage-WTI, the company has responded to the proposed findings, and discussions are on-going with the agency.

“The company, moreover, has cooperated fully with agency personnel for their investigation, providing documents, interviews and inspections of the plant upon request,” the release said.

“Heritage-WTI looks forward to continued cooperation with (the) agency with the goal of making the company’s robust safety program even stronger. The company is committed to the well-being of all associates in the workplace and strives for continuous improvement of its safety program.”

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