Big Fines after Chemical Fatality

Monday, May 21, 2012 @ 05:05 PM gHale

Raani Corp. is facing $473,000 in fines for failing to seek emergency medical treatment after a worker incurred chemical burns at the Bedford Park, IL, manufacturing plant last November and later died, said Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) officials.

The company earned citations for 14 safety violations, including six willful violations.

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OSHA received a referral from the Cook County medical examiner indicating a worker died from burn injuries caused by high-temperature water and a solution that erupted while the worker was beneath an open tank hatch. An investigation determined the company failed to call 911 to seek emergency medical treatment and neglected to wash the worker in the available safety shower. The worker ended up transported to a local occupational health clinic in a co-worker’s vehicle more than 30 minutes after the injury.

“Raani Corp. has a legal and moral responsibility to seek immediate medical attention for anyone injured in the workplace,” said Greg Baxter, acting regional administrator for OSHA in Chicago. “Failing to provide protective equipment and hazard communication training shows zero commitment to worker safety and health.”

Six willful violations were for failing to utilize available emergency care; provide, require and train workers on the proper use of protective clothing; provide eye, face and hand protection when handling high-temperature liquid and hazardous chemicals; and failing to provide hazard communication training to workers exposed to hazardous chemicals. Generally, workers would wear medical-grade latex gloves, which are not insulated or sufficient when using high- temperature liquids or the majority of chemicals used at the site. 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.

Additionally, seven serious safety violations involve failing to perform a personal protective equipment assessment; correct an improperly guarded platform; provide visible quick drenching facilities within the immediate work area; train about the usage of powered industrial vehicles; enclose live parts of electrical equipment; use proper safety precautions when transferring flammable liquids; and not maintaining dry, clean floors. 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 was for failing to report the fatality to OSHA. 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.

Due to the willful nature of some of the violations, OSHA placed Raani in its Severe Violator Enforcement Program, which mandates targeted follow-up inspections to ensure compliance with the law. The program focuses on recalcitrant employers who endanger workers by committing willful, repeat or failure-to-abate violations.

Raani, a manufacturer of health-care items, over-the-counter pharmaceuticals and household and salon products, employs 150 workers, of which nearly half are temporary day workers. OSHA previously inspected the in 1993, resulting in five serious violations

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