By the Northwest Georgia News
DALTON, Ga. – An MFG Chemical Inc. worker died after hazardous chemical vapors released from an overpressurized reactor burned his respiratory system. A second employee was treated at a hospital and released. A July 2014 inspection by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration resulted in citations for MFG for 17 safety and health violations. OSHA initiated the inspection after a media referral alleged that a chemical release at the manufacturing facility had occurred.
“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.”
MFG was inspected by OSHA 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 repeated citations for MFG’s failure to ensure that 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 has been cited 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 was cited previously for similar violations in 2012 at this facility.
Serious citations were issued 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.
Bureau of Labor Statistics data from the preliminary Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries shows fatal work injuries in Georgia accounted for 70 of the 4,405 fatal work injuries reported nationally in 2013. Additional details are available at http://www.bls.gov.
MFG manufactures a range of specialty chemicals for the water treatment, agriculture and pulp, and paper industries. The company has 15 business days from receipt of its citations and penalties to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA’s area director, or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission. Proposed penalties total $87,780.
To ask questions, obtain compliance assistance, file a complaint or report workplace hospitalizations, fatalities or situations posing imminent danger to workers, the public should call OSHA’s toll-free hotline at 800-321-OSHA (6742) or the agency’s Atlanta-West Area Office at 678-903-7301.
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.