Portage Precision Polymers of Ravenna, OH, is facing $61,600 in fines for 15 serious safety and health violations for exposing workers to combustible dust and amputation hazards, said officials at the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).

OSHA inspected the facility after receiving a complaint.

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“Combustible dust can burn rapidly and explode with little warning, putting workers at risk for severe injury and death,” said Howard Eberts, OSHA’s area director in Cleveland. “OSHA’s inspection found that Portage Precision Polymers used potential ignition sources, like powered industrial trucks and electrical equipment, in areas where combustible dust was present. This is dangerous and unacceptable.”

OSHA’s March 13 inspection found workers suffered exposure to the combustible dust while working in the facility. For the exposure, the company received one serious violation. If this dust ends up suspended in the air in the right concentration, under certain conditions, it can become explosive. The force from such an explosion can cause employee deaths, injuries and destruction of buildings. The U.S. Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board identified 281 combustible dust incidents between 1980 and 2005 that led to the deaths of 119 workers, injured 718 and extensively damaged numerous industrial facilities.

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Additional serious violations involved amputation hazards, including lack of machine guarding, and failing to implement specific lockout/tagout procedures to prevent machinery from operating during service and maintenance. Portage Precision Polymers failed to perform periodic inspections of overhead cranes and provide fall protection to workers exposed to falls of more than 5 feet while climbing on top of storage tanks.

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.

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