Chemical Firm Fines after Fire

Friday, October 12, 2012 @ 06:10 PM gHale

Fontarome Chemical Inc. is facing fines of $51,800 for 17 serious safety violations following a fire at the company’s pharmaceutical manufacturing facility in St. Francis on April 13, said officials at the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).

The fire occurred during the troubleshooting of an electrical component on the hot oil heater. OSHA initiated an inspection under its national emphasis program on process safety management for covered chemical facilities.

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“Employers must provide safe working conditions, especially for employees who work with highly hazardous chemicals,” said George Yoksas, OSHA’s area director in Milwaukee. “It is clear that Fontarome Chemical failed to create safety procedures, much less train employees or review procedures to ensure their effectiveness, as is necessary for these kinds of operations.”

Twelve violations cited relate to process safety management, including failing to address hazards related to potential engineering and administrative control failures, implement written operating procedures, review and certify operating procedures annually, train workers on the procedures, develop emergency procedures for the shutdown of process equipment or to address deviations from normal operating limits, validate management of change procedures, conduct a compliance audit at least every three years and respond to deficiencies found in compliance audits.

Five other violations involve failing to develop machine-specific procedures for locking and tagging out energy sources, perform periodic inspections of machinery, guard machines, require workers to wear insulating gloves and fire-retardant clothing when working on energized circuits, and conduct an arc flash hazard analysis. 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.

Fontarome Chemical manufactures ingredients for pharmaceuticals and the flavor and fragrance industries. The inspection was OSHA’s third of the St. Francis facility, which previously 22 previous violations.

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