Company identified as ‘Severe Violator’

Small Chemical PlantOSHA began a programmed-targeted inspection of Rich Products Corp., located in Brownsville, Texas under the agency’s Process Safety Management Covered Chemical Facilities National Emphasis Program to reduce or eliminate the release of highly hazardous chemicals. Following the inspection of the plant’s anhydrous ammonia refrigeration system, OSHA issued citations for 11 serious and three repeat violations and also placed the company in its Severe Violator Enforcement Program. Proposed Penalties total $155,000.

Some of the 11 serious violations cited include failing to:

  • Provide written notice of annual audiograms.
  • Refit workers for hearing protection and training.
  • Test ammonia detectors, and implement an emergency response plan for potential release of anhydrous ammonia.
  • Provide an annual fit test for respirator use.
  • Provide a medical evaluation to determine employee’s ability to use a respirator.

The repeat violations, all relating to the PSM, include failing to:

  • Include a relief design system for the process safety information to maintain adequate pressure.
  • Provide accurate calculations for the ventilation system design.
  • Provide adequate procedures for draining oil pot vessels.

“Process safety management is necessary for preventing or minimizing the consequences of an unexpected release of toxic, reactive, flammable, or explosive chemicals in the workplace. This includes liquids and gases in processes involving highly hazardous chemicals such as ammonia,” said Travis Clark, OSHA’s area director in Corpus Christi. It’s vital that Rich Products ensure safeguards are in place to protect worker safety and health at this facility.”

Link to the citations: http://www.osha.gov/ooc/citations/Rich_Products_Corp_1081533.pdf*

Headquartered in St. Simons Island, Georgia, Rich Products is a manufacturer and distributor of frozen seafood products.

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Retail chain faces $163K in penalties

iStock_000017378933XSmallFederal safety inspectors found a 5-foot high, 15-foot long pile of trash between employees at a Missouri Dollar General store and an emergency exit, one of nine safety violations that put workers at the O’Fallon location at risk.

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration initiated its inspection after an employee alleged that upper management ignored repeated requests to remove the hazards. Since 2010, the agency has cited Dollar General for more than 100 safety and health violations at stores across the nation. The national discount retailer recorded sales of $18.9 billion in sales in fiscal 2014.

OSHA cited the O’Fallon store for two willful, six serious and one other-than-serious violations on January 28, 2016. Proposed penalties total $163,000.

“Blocked exits can be the difference between life and death in an emergency. Carelessly piling up trash and debris is also unsanitary,” said Bill McDonald, OSHA’s area director in St. Louis. “Dollar General needs to immediately address hazards found in O’Fallon and at its stores nationwide.”

OSHA investigators also found:

  • Workers exposed to fall hazards because stairs lacked railings.
  • An exit sign posted at a door that was not an exit.
  • An unlit exit way and emergency exit lighting that did not work.
  • Circuit breakers were not labeled.
  • Electrical panels blocked by miscellaneous material.
  • Workers were not trained in fire extinguisher use.

View current citations here.

At a Dollar General store in Jennings, inspectors found exit doors blocked in May 2015, and cited the retailer for one repeated and one other-than-serious safety violation and proposed penalties of $28,050. Citations have been issued for similar violations at Dollar General stores in Georgia, Arkansas, Texas, and Illinois.

Based in Goodlettsville, Tennessee, Dollar General operates more than 12,000 stores in 43 states and employs about 100,000 workers.

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Worker fatally injured in fireworks explosion

iStock_000020367188XSmallOSHA initiated an inspection of the Texas Panhandle Heritage Foundation Inc. in July 2015 following a fireworks explosion at the Palo Duro Canyon State Park in Texas in which 21-year-old worker was fatally injured while taking inventory of the pyrotechnics for an outdoor musical production. Following the inspection, OSHA issued six serious citations for failing to train workers on the use of explosives, provide fire retardant clothing, perform a hazard assessment and develop a written hazard communication program.  Proposed penalties total $42,000.

“A 21-year-old worker, with three months of work experience under her belt, lost her life because Texas Panhandle Heritage Foundation failed to provide appropriate training and protective equipment to workers handling pyrotechnics,” said Elizabeth Linda Routh, OSHA’s area director in Lubbock.

Link to the citations:

http://www.osha.gov/ooc/citations/TexasPanhandleHeritageFoundation_1081897.pdf

Posted in Fire Prevention & Protection, OSHA, OSHA Inspections, PPE, Safety Training | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Employee has two toes amputated following rollover

Lawn MowerOSHA issued citations for two willful, five serious, and one other-than-serious safety and health violations to SNS Lawn & Landscape Services Inc., doing business as The Ground Guys, in Lancaster, Pennsylvania.  Proposed penalties total $42,000.

In August 2015, The Ground Guys notified the agency that an employee suffered a double toe amputation when he lost control of the lawn mower he was operating on a wet grassy slope, prompting an investigation. The amputation occurred less than three months after OSHA investigated another rollover incident in which an employee sustained serious injuries and was hospitalized.  Inspectors determined the company failed to ensure that workers were using a rollover protective system and seat belts when operating the zero-turn mower, and issued a willful citation.

Serious citations were also issued due to the company’s failure to use the proper guards on the mower, chemical hazards, and the lack of a hazard communication program. The company was also cited for failing to prepare a written workplace hazard assessment.

“This amputation and the incident that preceded it could have been prevented if The Ground Guys had only used the mower’s protective system,” said Kevin Kulp, director of OSHA’s Harrisburg Office. “By ignoring this vital safeguard, the company is taking unnecessary risks with the safety of its employees, which is unacceptable.”

View the citations: http://www.osha.gov/ooc/citations/SNSLawn_1083847.pdf.

Visit OSHA’s Landscape and Horticultural Services webpage for more information on the hazards associated with lawn care and landscape maintenance.

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AC Power Cord RecallRecall date:  February 02, 2016

Recall number:  16-089

Name of product:  AC Power Cords

Hazard:  The power cords can overheat, posing fire or shock hazards.

Description:  This recall involves AC power cords sold with Microsoft Surface Pro, Surface Pro 2 and Surface Pro 3 computers before March 15, 2015.  Surface Pro and Surface Pro 2 devices have a black case with the product name on the back of the device toward the bottom. Surface Pro 3 computers have a silver case with “Windows 8 Pro” on the back of the device under the kickstand.  This recall also involves accessory power supply units that include an AC power cord sold separately before March 15, 2015. The recalled power cords do not have a 1/8-inch sleeve on the cord on the end that connects to the power supply.

Incidents/Injuries:  Microsoft has received56reports of AC cords overheating and emitting flames and five reports of electrical shock to consumers.

Remedy:  Consumers should unplug and stop using the recalled power cords and contact Microsoft for a free replacement AC power cord.

Sold at:  Microsoft stores, Best Buy, Costco and other stores nationwide, and online at www.microsoft.com, from February 2013 through March 15, 2015 for between $800 and $2,000 for the Surface Pro computer and between $64 and $80 for the power supply unit sold separately.

Importer(s):  Microsoft Corp., of Redmond, Washington

Distributor(s):  Microsoft Corp., of Redmond, Washington

Manufactured in:  China, Taiwan, U.K.

Consumer Contact:  Microsoft toll-free at 855-327-7780 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. PT Monday through Friday or online at www.microsoft.com and click on Support, then Surface Support, then All Surface Support, then see Power Cords for more information

Units:  About 2.25 million (in addition, about 190,000 were sold in Canada)

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iStock_000011040755SmallI know there’s a community out there touting the benefits of electronic cigarettes, or e-cigs (also called vaping).   No one can deny that the e-cig industry is expanding and expanding.  Although everything I’ve read stops short of calling them a healthy alternative to smoking, the overall tone indicates that e-cigs may be a better alternative to tobacco – may help you quit smoking, may lower your exposure to nicotine, and eliminates everyone’s exposure to second-hand smoke with the ultimate goal of quitting altogether.  If that’s the purpose of e-cigs, count me in.

So what’s the problem?  Quit smoking, less nicotine, and no one gets second-hand smoke.  Am I missing something?

A definite Yes!  Pop into your local “vapor” store and you’ll see all sorts of shapes, sizes, and colors of what are basically nicotine delivery systems.  Now, the latest thing – flavors.  Yes, flavors.  Now, you can get a quick fix of nicotine AND enjoy any number of different flavors to enhance your vaping experience. (But I thought the goal was to quit using them altogether, so why are they being made more appealing?)

Now, the hidden problem.  Some of the flavors have been identified as potentially hazardous.  That’s right – potentially hazardous.  Remember the “buttery” flavoring on microwave popcorn?  It’s a chemical called diacetyl which was attributed to a condition called Popcorn Lung.  Popcorn Lung is known in the medical community as obliterative bronchiolitis (OB) which is a serious, irreversible lung condition.  The concern was with the workers breathing diacetyl and complaints of lung maladies.  The concern prompted NIOSH1 to investigate and ultimately publish an alert, NIOSH Alert: Preventing Lung Disease in Workers Who Use or Make Flavorings.

But wait.  Aren’t we talking about intermittent exposure in an e-cig rather than continuous exposure like in a factory?  Absolutely.  However, by inhaling the e-cig vapor, you are inhaling the flavoring chemicals directly into your lungs.  Granted, NIOSH does state that more research is needed to establish a causal link between diacetyl and OB.  However, NIOSH also makes a rather compelling case for this causal link.  At least, we need to take a closer look.

Another concern.  Diacetyl and other diacetyl-like chemicals are found in flavorings other than just “buttery” flavoring.  The Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health published a study1 in December 2015 in which diacetyl or diacetyl-like compounds were found in 47 of 51 flavors tested (the flavors tested were fruit, candy, and cocktail flavors).  Again, they aren’t claiming that diacetyl and diacetyl-like compounds are harmful, just that they are in more than just “buttery” flavoring.

To sum this all up, if you’re looking for a definite conclusion, there isn’t one.  At best, it’s a definite maybe. If you’re using e-cigs to wean off of nicotine and eventually get off of nicotine entirely, then great, and count me in.  However, if you’re using e-cigs as a way of “smoking” without the tobacco, count me out.

  1. National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health
  2. Allen JG, Flanigan SS, LeBlanc M, Vallarino J, MacNaughton P, Stewart JH, Christiani DC. Flavoring Chemicals in E-Cigarettes: Diacetyl, 2,3-Pentanedione, and Acetoin in a Sample of 51 Products, Including Fruit-, Candy-, and Cocktail-Flavored E-Cigarettes. Environ Health Perspect; http://dx.doi.org/10.1289/ehp.1510185
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Company fined more than $162K following OSHA investigation

Ladder-in-front-of-exit-179x300On December 31, 2015 OSHA Cited Dollar General Corp. headquartered at 100 Mission Ridge in Goodlettsville, Tennessee for an inspection that occurred at a store located at 2222 Texoma Parkway, in Sherman, Texas.

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration initiated the inspection on July 14, in response to a complaint alleging workplace safety hazards at Dollar General’s Sherman, Texas, store. OSHA issued citations for one serious, two repeat, and two willful violations.

Dollar General was cited for two willful violations for failing to keep exit routes clear and unobstructed, and for failing to keep working space clear around the electrical panel. The company was also cited for two repeat violations for failing to keep the store aisles clean and clear, and ensuring that portable fire extinguishers were mounted and accessible. One serious violation was issued for failing to clearly mark an exit route. The Proposed Penalties total $162,800.

“Dollar General stores nationwide have repeatedly been cited for exposing their workers to hazards posed by overstocking issues, while promising time and again to take corrective action, yet workers continue to be exposed to unnecessary hazards,” said Josh Bernstein, OSHA’s acting area director in Fort Worth, Texas. “It is the employer’s responsibility to find and fix these hazards and OSHA will continue to hold this employer accountable.”

Link to the citations:
http://www.osha.gov/ooc/citations/Dollar_General_1077466.pdf*

Information: Dollar General has 11,500 stores in 40 states, and employs about 90,000 workers nationwide, including eight workers at its Sherman location. OSHA has received complaints from Dollar General’s employees in 21 states since 2006, and has cited the company for 240 safety violations, including numerous willful and repeat violations during this same time period. The company has 15 business days from receipt of their citations to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA’s area director, or contest the citations and penalties before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

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iStock_000021312847XSmall safety job 1 croppedAdvanced Safety & Health would like to congratulate Hardin County Water District No. 2 – a long-term client of ours – for receiving the Governor’s Safety and Health Award.  The Kentucky Labor Cabinet presents the Governor’s Safety and Health Award in recognition of outstanding safety and health performance.

The District’s nearly 70 employees worked approximately 256,000 hours without a loss-time incident.  Kentucky Labor Secretary Larry L. Roberts praised the employees for their dedication to safety.

“Good, clean water is so important to a community, and the employees of Hardin County Water District No. 2 work extremely hard to deliver that service on a daily basis,” said Secretary Roberts. “Not only do they exceed in doing extremely good work, they go about everything they do with safety as a top priority.”

The entire Kentucky Labor Cabinet announcement can be found here.

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What is the Kentucky Tab Q-7 Plan?

ky_fiFirst, some background.  The federal Emergency Planning and Community Right to Know Act (EPCRA) of 1986 required each state to establish a formal state-level emergency planning commission (SEPC) and local-level emergency planning committee (LEPC).  The Act was in response to the chemical spill in Bhopal, India, in 1984.  Under the Act, each LEPC was tasked with developing a comprehensive written plan that outlined what to do in the event of a chemical-related emergency, i.e., spill, release, fire, or explosion.  The EPA did not require an LEPC to develop a separate plan for chemical emergencies; it could be incorporated into an existing emergency plan.

Since each county in Kentucky already had a County Emergency Operations Plan, the chemical emergency section was merely added to the existing Emergency Operations Plan as Tab Q-7.  Consequently, facility chemical emergency response plans were known as Tab Q-7 Plans because they were located in Appendix Q-7 of the already existing County Emergency Operations Plan.  Simple (and the name is actually quite appropriate).

What’s in the Tab Q-7 plan?

The Tab Q-7 plan identifies how each facility will respond and what the LEPC needs to know in the event of a chemical emergency.  It has a specific format and required elements.  Each Tab Q-7 Plan contains a list of hazardous chemicals, 24-hour contact information, emergency contact information, map of the facility, where the local community is vulnerable, who in the local community (outside the facility) is at risk, their contact information, etc.  The Tab Q-7 plan can be quite simple or quite lengthy depending on the type of chemicals, the quantity of chemicals, and how many people are at risk.

Do all companies need to have a Tab Q-7 Plan?

No.  The Tab Q-7 Plan is only required for Kentucky companies who have an extremely hazardous chemical on site at any time at levels exceeding pre-determined levels.

How do I know if I have an extremely hazardous substance (EHS) at my facility?

The list of extremely hazardous substances and the levels at which an emergency response plan is required can be found on the EPA website (Appendix A of Part 355), or you can contact us for guidance.

I have an EHS at my facility above the threshold level, now what?

You need to prepare a Tab Q-7 Plan which lists the chemical, emergency planning, map of the facility, and all the other items required by the Kentucky Emergency Response Commission.

Is the Tab Q-7 Plan something I can do or do I need someone with a special certification to prepare it?

The Tab Q-7 Plan can be written by anyone at your company or you can have someone outside your company write your Tab Q-7 Plan.

Who can I contact for further information?

Contact the Kentucky Division for Emergency Management, 502-607-5732, or David McGill @ Advanced Safety & Health, dmcgill@advancedsafetyhealth.com.

Posted in Chemical Safety, Emergency Action Plan, Hazard Communication, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

iStock_000019952192SmallReser’s Fine Foods, a food processing facility in Topeka, Kansas was cited for 13 serious violations. OSHA opened an investigation at the company, after receiving a complaint about an ammonia leak. Ammonia is used in the refrigeration process in food production facilities. Inspectors found that about eight pounds of ammonia were released in March 2015 from a compressor seal leak at the facility. Emergency evacuation procedures were initiated. One employee was taken to a local medical facility for observation but was able to return to work later that day.

Eight of the serious violations involved OSHA’s process safety procedures which contain requirements for the management of hazards associated with processes using highly hazardous chemicals. These include lack of training, failing to conduct periodic evaluations of processes and update procedures, and poor record keeping. OSHA also found the company failed to properly mark doors for emergency exit and did not adequately protect workers from operating machinery parts during service and maintenance. Proposed penalties total $71,700.

“Ammonia can cause immediate damage to skin, eyes and lungs,” said Judy Freeman, OSHA’s area director in Wichita. “Refrigeration is essential in the food industry, but the dangers of ammonia in the workplace are entirely preventable if employers follow the right procedures.”

To view current citations, visit:

http://www.dol.gov/opa/media/press/osha/OSHA20151784a.pdf
http://www.dol.gov/opa/media/press/osha/OSHA20151784b.pdf

The Beaverton, Oregon-based company’s leading brands include Reser’s American Classics deli salads, Reser’s Sensational Sides, and Stonemill Kitchens gourmet dips.

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