Safety Fines for Georgia-Pacific Chemicals

Wednesday, January 28, 2015 @ 02:01 PM gHale

Workers at Georgia-Pacific Chemicals LLC suffered exposure to dangerous chemicals, such as formaldehyde and other potential health and safety hazards, because the company failed to implement proper chemical management procedures at its Columbus, OH, plant, said officials at the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).

After an OSHA investigation, investigators found 11 serious violations with $60,500 in penalties.

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Atlanta-based Georgia-Pacific Chemicals, a subsidiary of Georgia-Pacific LLC, is a nationwide chemical manufacturer and distributor. The company produces a diverse range of products used in the building, oil and gas, mining, paper and packaging industries. The company employs 44 workers at the Columbus plant.

OSHA cited the violations under its Process Safety Management Standards, which contain specific requirements for managing highly hazardous chemicals in work processes. One of the hazards identified was formaldehyde, which sees use in various industrial applications and products. Formaldehyde can irritate the skin, eyes, nose and throat; it is deadly if swallowed. Formaldehyde also is a fire and explosion hazard if exposed to heat or flame. It is a colorless, strong-smelling gas.

“Chemical manufacturing can be catastrophic if proper safeguards are not in place, and Georgia-Pacific Chemicals failed to meet that responsibility,” said Deborah Zubaty, OSHA’s area director in Columbus. “Exposure to formaldehyde can have serious health consequences. Workers should not be put at risk because this company failed to implement required procedures.”

The July 16 inspection found Georgia-Pacific Chemical’s standard operating procedures did not contain accurate information on safety systems and how they worked.

The company’s process hazard analysis, an evaluation used to identify potential hazards associated with the processing of highly hazardous chemicals, failed to address issues in the plant. In addition, employees did not get training in changes to these processes, and inspections and equipment testing were not completed as scheduled.

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

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