Fines for Hazardous Chemical Handling

Wednesday, September 10, 2014 @ 08:09 AM gHale

Procedures for handling liquid chlorine, a highly hazardous chemical, at Beck Aluminum Alloys Ltd. in Racine, WI, were lacking and that is leading to a $32,890 fine for 10 serious safety violations, said officials at the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).

The company recycles aluminum and produces alloys used in various applications.

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The violations fell under OSHA’s Process Safety Management Standards, which contain specific requirements for managing dangerous chemicals in the workplace. Liquid chlorine, used in the production of aluminum metals, is a chemical covered under the standards. It can cause irritation to the eyes, skin and the respiratory system.

“Exposure to chlorine can have terrible health consequences, and workers must be trained in proper operating procedures to minimize exposure. Workers should never be put at risk because a company failed to implement and test controls that would protect them from exposure,” said Christine Zortman, OSHA’s area director in Milwaukee.

The Feb. 21 inspection found the foundry failed to evaluate potential hazards for employees who worked with chlorine, including the impact of power outages on work processes. The company also did not develop written procedures to minimize employee exposure. In addition, the company failed to properly test and evaluate piping used to transfer liquid chlorine, and it failed to implement safe operating pressure limits.

An OSHA violation is serious if death or serious physical harm could result from a hazard an employer knew or should have known exists.

Beck Aluminum Alloys Ltd., based in Lebanon, Pennsylvania, is a subsidiary of Beck Aluminum Corp. of Mayfield, Ohio. Beck Aluminum Alloys employs 115 workers nationwide at its foundries in Lebanon and Racine.

The company has negotiated a settlement agreement with OSHA which includes a final order of 10 serious violations and payment of $32,890 in four installments. The company must also provide documentation it abated the safety violations.

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