Exposing workers to hazardous chemicals and chemical particles has resulted in Seeler Industries Inc. facing $134,400 in fines for 19 health and safety violations, including one willful, said officials at the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).
OSHA initiated an inspection on Feb. 4, after receiving a complaint about hazards at the company’s 3 Rivers Terminal in Joliet, IL. Seeler Industries operates the for-hire chemical terminal facility providing services in blending, on-site laboratory, storage, transfer, packaging and shipping to the chemical industry. The terminal has seven truck loading racks and 42 railcar unloading positions. The facility employs 60 workers.
OSHA’s investigation found Seeler Industries did not provide employees with an effective training program, including information on appropriate handling and safe use of hazardous chemicals. The company’s failure to provide this training resulted in the issuance of the willful citation. A willful violation is one committed with intentional, knowing or voluntary disregard for the law’s requirement, or with plain indifference to employee safety and health.
“Workers have the right to know what workplace chemicals they are exposed to and to be protected against exposure, which can have severe health effects,” said Kathy Webb, OSHA’s area director in Calumet City. “Mishandling chemicals can result in catastrophic fires and explosions. It is the employer’s responsibility to protect workers from these hazards.”
OSHA’s investigation also found Seeler Industries did not implement engineering controls to reduce employee exposure and failed to label containers with information that identified and warned of the hazardous chemicals contained inside. Workers ended up exposed to quantities of chemicals greater than the OSHA permissible exposure limit.
Other serious violations were for failing to provide fall protection, such as guardrails, and a sanitary work environment; follow respiratory protection standards; and train workers on confined space requirements, the use of personal protective equipment and proper operation of powered industrial vehicles. Other violations included lack of specific lockout/tagout procedures to protect workers operating dangerous machinery and exposing workers to live electrical parts by failing to shut down equipment during service and maintenance.
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.