PSM Issues for Packaging Maker

Friday, March 20, 2015 @ 03:03 PM gHale

Pregis Corp., a manufacturer of foam, paper and plastic packaging materials, is facing $73,000 in fines for 13 serious violations at its Queensbury, NY, facility, said officials at the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).

OSHA inspectors visited the plant Sept. 19 under its National Emphasis Program on chemical facilities and focused on its Process Safety Management (PSM) standard. The standard details specific requirements for employers to meet to prevent or minimize the consequences of catastrophic releases of large amounts of highly hazardous chemicals, in this case, 50,000 pounds of Isobutane, a flammable colorless gas used in the manufacturing process at the plant.

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OSHA’s inspection found several serious deficiencies in the plant’s PSM program.

These included incomplete analysis of hazards; inaccurate diagrams of the piping system; not conducting inspections and testing of the PSM covered systems; not correcting deficiencies; not addressing recommendations in a timely manner; not updating safety information when changes occurred in the manufacturing process, and not investigating incidents that could have resulted in a catastrophic chemical release.

The inspection also determined the plant allowed accumulations of combustible dust to build up in the workplace; did not provide training and personal protective equipment to employees working with live electricity; and located exit routes near hazardous areas. These conditions resulted in Pregis Corp. receiving citations for 13 serious violations of workplace health and safety standards.

“Numerous deficiencies in the plant’s process safety management program exposed its employees to the dangers of potentially fatal fires and explosions and an increased risk of a catastrophic release of this highly hazardous chemical,” said Kim Castillon, OSHA’s area director in Albany. “While no release occurred, the hazard was real and present. Pregis must strengthen and improve its chemical safeguards to absolutely minimize the possibility of a life-threatening incident.”

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