The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), a segment of the U.S. Department of Labor, announced on October 10, 2012, that it had cited Fontarome Chemical Inc. for a number of serious safety violations.
The citations were issued after a fire at the firm's pharmaceutical manufacturing facility in St. Francis, Wisconsin, on April 13, which erupted during maintenance of an electrical component fastened to the hot oil heater. After the fire, OSHA performed an inspection of the company's facilities – a part of its current national emphasis program – to determine the level of process safety management that is outlined for chemical facilities.
OSHA said proposed fines amounted to $51,800.
"Employers must provide safe working conditions, especially for employees who work with highly hazardous chemicals," said George Yoksas, OSHA's area director in Milwaukee. "It is clear that Fontarome Chemical failed to create safety procedures, much less train employees or review procedures to ensure their effectiveness, as is necessary for these kinds of operations."
Process safety management violations were cited for 12 different factors, including the company's failure to address hazards related to potential engineering and administrative control failures. The investigation also uncovered that Fontarome had not implemented written operating procedures, reviewed and certified those procedures every year or trained workers on these procedures.
Other citations included failure to create emergency procedures regarding the shutdown of process equipment, validate the oversight of different procedures, conduct a compliance audit every three years and to make changes in the facility based on this audit.
The remaining five violations included improper lockout/tagout procedures, poor inspections of machinery and machine guards, failure to require workers to wear appropriate safety gloves and other protective clothing and not conducting an arc flash hazard analysis.
OSHA's process safety management guidelines were written to address the unexpected release of toxic, reactive or flammable liquids and gasses during processes that involve dangerous and highly combustible chemicals. No matter the industry, these chemicals can create hazards that if not properly handled, can lead to fires or explosions.
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