Safety Fines for Nuway Tobacco

Friday, April 12, 2013 @ 11:04 AM gHale

Connecticut tobacco sheet manufacturer, Nuway Tobacco Co., is facing $59,869 in fines for 22 serious violations of workplace safety and health standards at its South Windsor manufacturing facility, said Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) officials.

Inspectors found workers exposed to fire and explosion hazards from both combustible tobacco dust generated by the manufacturing process and from the lack of equipment and procedures to prevent the spread of dust fires and explosions.

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Nuway Tobacco makes tobacco sheets used as filler and wrappers for cigars.

Specifically, inspectors found accumulated tobacco dust up to one inch thick on light fixtures, electrical enclosures, ducts, pipes, equipment and other surfaces in the plant’s grinding room; the processing system allowed the escape and buildup of combustible dust in the work area; processing machinery lacked interlock and isolation systems to shut down equipment and prevent or limit the spread of a dust fire or explosion; and protective systems, such as sprinklers and explosion vents, had not been inspected, tested and maintained on a regular basis.

“A dust fire or explosion can be catastrophic and result in deaths, injuries and the destruction of entire buildings,” said Warren Simpson, OSHA’s area director in Hartford. “While an explosion did not occur here, the hazard is real and present. It is imperative that this employer promptly and effectively eliminate these hazards and prevent their recurrence.”

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.

OSHA also found workers exposed to falls from equipment and work platforms that lacked guardrails; laceration, amputation and crushing hazards from unguarded moving machine parts; and electrocution from ungrounded or exposed wiring. Workers also lacked training, protective equipment and safe work practices when performing troubleshooting on live electrical equipment.

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