US Department of Labor's OSHA cites Alabama manufacturer for
combustible dust and other hazards; proposes nearly $55,000 in fines
OPELIKA, Ala. – The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration has cited Intercontinental Packaging Inc. for 24 safety violations at the company's Opelika plant, including exposing workers to hazards associated with combustible dust, among others. OSHA conducted an inspection in May as part of its national emphasis programs on combustible dust and amputations, and a regional emphasis program on powered industrial trucks. Proposed penalties total $54,880.
Twelve serious violations carrying proposed penalties of $47,180 involve improper housekeeping for allowing up to 36 inches of combustible wood dust to accumulate; having improper electrical classification in the area of dust buildup; failing to provide standard guardrails on a platform; not training employees on the use and care of personal fall equipment; failing to train workers on the use of powered industrial trucks; not maintaining forklifts properly by having seatbelts installed; exposing employees to machine guarding hazards; failing to have a written hazard communication program addressing chemical hazards; not having a strain relief for flexible cords and cables; and deficiencies associated with lockout/tagout procedures intended to prevent equipment from starting up unexpectedly. 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.
Eleven other-than-serious violations carrying penalties of $7,700 relate to deficient record keeping, including not recording all of the required information for 2007, 2008, 2010 and 2011, as well as not annually summarizing the OSHA 300 log of work-related injuries and illnesses for 2007, 2008 and 2010. There were no injuries in 2009 that met the OSHA criteria for reportable injuries. One additional other-than-serious violation involved failed to provide employees using respirators voluntarily with the information contained in Appendix D of the agency's respirator standard. An other-than-serious violation is one that has a direct relationship to job safety and health, but probably would not cause death or serious physical harm.
"This inspection found a variety of serious hazards, including accumulations of combustible wood dust, along with potential ignition sources, which expose employees to the risk of fire and explosions. Employers must take the necessary precautions when conducting operations that produce combustible dusts to prevent catastrophe," said Kurt Petermeyer, OSHA's area director in Mobile.
The company, which produces corrugated cardboard boxes and wooden pallets, has 15 business days from receipt of the citations and proposed penalties to comply, request a conference with OSHA's area director or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission. The site was inspected by OSHA's Mobile Area Office, 1141 Montlimar Drive, Suite 1006, Mobile, Ala. 36609; telephone 251-441-6131. To report workplace incidents, fatalities or situations posing imminent danger to workers, call the agency's toll-free hotline at 800-321-OSHA (6742).
Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their employees. OSHA's role is to ensure these conditions for America's working men and women by setting and enforcing standards, and providing training, education and assistance. For more information, visit http://www.osha.gov.
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