Repeat Fines after Chem Plant Fatality

Thursday, January 8, 2015 @ 04:01 PM gHale

A MFG Chemical Inc. worker died after hazardous chemical vapors released from an overpressurized reactor burned his respiratory system. A second employee ended up treated at a hospital and released.

A July inspection resulted in citations for MFG for 17 safety and health violations and the company is facing $87,780 in fines at the Dalton, GA, facility, said officials at the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).

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OSHA initiated the inspection after a media referral said a chemical release at the manufacturing facility had occurred. MFG manufactures a range of specialty chemicals for the water treatment, agriculture and pulp, and paper industries.

“MFG continues to violate OSHA standards, exposing workers to serious hazards associated with process safety management,” said Christi Griffin, director of OSHA’s Atlanta-West Area Office. “Allowing repeated violations demonstrates the company’s lack of commitment to worker safety and health.”

OSHA inspected MFG previously in 2012 and received 19 serious citations related to process safety management standards.

OSHA’s Process Safety Management standard contains specific requirements for the management of hazards associated with processes using dangerous chemicals and establishes a comprehensive management program integrating technologies, procedures and management practices.

OSHA issued citations for MFG’s failure to ensure the reactor system alarm provided early warning for worker evacuation; not training workers on the hazards of permit-required confined spaces; and failure to ensure equipment used for manufacturing had an adequate pressure-relief design. A repeated violation exists when an employer previously faced citations for the same or a similar violation of a standard, regulation, rule or order at any facility in federal enforcement states within the last five years. MFG previously faced similar violations in 2012 at this facility.

Serious citations were for the company’s failure to ensure guarded floor openings and pits; establish and implement written changes to the chemical manufacturing process; and identify previous workplace incidents that had the potential for catastrophic results. Other violations included failure to provide medical examinations for workers required to use respirators and not conducting fit tests for respirators. 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.

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