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Rust-Oleum Corp., doing business as Synta Inc., is facing $188,500 in fines for 33 serious safety and health violations for exposing full-time and temporary workers to crystalline silica dust, amputation and electrical hazards, said officials at the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).

OSHA initiated its inspection of the Clarkston, GA, facility in February, following a complaint of improper storage of material and inadequate forklift training.

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Inhalation of respirable crystalline silica particles can cause silicosis, a disabling, nonreversible and sometimes fatal lung disease. Leading scientific organizations, including the American Cancer Society, have confirmed the causal relationship between silica and lung cancer.

“By failing to correct the violations identified, Rust-Oleum chose to ignore worker safety and exposed employees to hazards that could result in illness, injury or death,” said Bill Fulcher, director of OSHA’s Atlanta-East Area Office. “Workplace hazards need to be addressed immediately and prevented from reoccurring by implementing an effective safety and health program.”

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One repeat violation was for allowing employees to perform maintenance and servicing of equipment without ensuring the machine could not restart. A repeat violation exists when an employer previously faced a citation 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. The company received a citation for this same violation in January 2011 at a workplace in Pleasant Prairie, WI.

OSHA cited the employer for 26 serious violations for exposing an employee to crystalline silica at levels of more than two times the exposure limit; failing to develop procedures to protect workers from moving machine parts during servicing and maintenance; exposing workers to crushing and struck-by hazards by not replacing or repairing damaged storage rack shelving; and allowing electrical equipment to be installed or used without following manufacturer instructions. The employer failed to administer and implement an occupational noise monitoring program; to provide adequate protective equipment, such as a chemical apron for employees working with corrosive materials; and did not develop or implement a written hazard communication program for employees working with hazardous chemicals.

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.

Rust-Oleum Corp. has been in business since 1921 and acquired the Clarkston facility, formerly Synta Inc., in September 2012. Synta started up in 1993 and is a paint and coating manufacturer that sells its products through home improvement, hardware and other retail stores. Synta employs approximately 1,500 workers. The company’s corporate headquarters is in Vernon Hills, IL.

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