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Welding without proper ventilation is a health-risk Image: FreeDigitalPhotos

Welding without proper ventilation is a health-risk
Image: FreeDigitalPhotos

OSHA finds Imperial Industries ignores rules to prevent toxic exposure

Workers welding stainless steel and other alloy steels containing chromium metal at a Wisconsin bulk storage tank manufacturer were exposed to hazardous levels of hexavalent chromium.

At high levels, hexavalent chromium can cause lung cancer and respiratory, eye and skin damage.

After a complaint, U.S. Department of Labor Occupational Safety and Health Administration inspectors visited Imperial Industries in Rothschild and identified two willful and 12 serious safety violations.

Proposed penalties total $161,100.

“Each year 50,000 workers die from exposures to hazardous substances like chromium during their careers. Failing to take steps to limit exposure to this dangerous substance is inexcusable,” said Robert Bonack, area director of OSHA’s Appleton office.

“Workers pay the price when companies don’t follow standards to reduce injuries and illnesses. Imperial Industries needs to take immediate steps to comply with safety and health standards.”

Inspectors determined employees were exposed to hexavalent chromium at levels exceeding permissible exposure limits while welding steels containing chromium metal. Chromium is added to harden alloy steel and help it resist corrosion.

Additionally, the company failed to implement engineering controls to reduce and monitor exposure levels among workers.

The November 2014 investigation also found workers endangered by amputation and struck-by hazards because machines lacked safety mechanisms.

Numerous electrical safety hazards were also identified, and workers were found operating damaged powered industrial vehicles.

Imperial Industries manufactures heavy gauge metal industrial tanks that are typically mounted to commercial trucks.

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.

Source: OSHA

Concerned about exposure to toxic chemicals and gases at your workplace? Electrocorp has designed a wide range of indoor air cleaners with activated carbon and HEPA filters that remove dangerous chemicals, gases, fumes, odors and particles from the ambient air. Source capture units are also available.

Check out Electrocorp’s welding fume extractors or browse other industrial and commercial applications. For more information, contact Electrocorp by calling 1-866-667-0297 or e-mailing sales@electrocorp.net.

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Hair stylists who use certain products may harm their health.

Hair stylists who use certain products may harm their health.

NEW YORK – All a receptionist at Salon Zoë hair salon wanted to do was make her fellow employees aware of health hazards associated with products containing formaldehyde that were regularly used by haircutters and stylists at the business in the Riverdale section of the Bronx.

Her employer responded by firing her.

As a result, the U.S. Department of Labor is suing the business and its owner, Kristina Veljovic, for discrimination, and seeking redress and compensation for the worker who exercised her rights under the Occupational Safety and Health Act.

“This firing was illegal and inexcusable,” said Robert Kulick, regional administrator in New York for the Labor Department’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

“It’s against the law to fire or otherwise retaliate against an employee for informing colleagues about possible health hazards in their place of employment. Such behavior not only intimidates workers, it also can deny them access to knowledge that will protect them against workplace hazards.”

The suit filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York says the worker began to experience respiratory distress in December 2011, including difficulty breathing and an impaired sense of smell. She sought medical attention on multiple occasions over the next several months. During this period, she also told her employer that she believed the salon’s hair-straightening products, which contain formaldehyde, were causing her health problems.

On June 27, 2012, she informed fellow employees of the presence of formaldehyde in the salon’s products and provided several co-workers with copies of an OSHA fact sheet* detailing the dangers of formaldehyde exposure.

Two days later, Kristina Veljovic terminated her employment. In July 2012, a physician confirmed that the worker’s respiratory distress resulted from her formaldehyde exposure at work. She subsequently filed an antidiscrimination complaint with OSHA, which investigated and found merit to her complaint.

“No employee should be fired for raising awareness of a potential workplace health hazard,” said Jeffrey Rogoff, the regional Solicitor of Labor in New York. “Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act, the Labor Department has the authority to file suit against employers who retaliate against employees and it will do so when the case warrants. This is clearly one of those cases.”

The department’s lawsuit asks the court to affirm the discrimination charge and permanently prohibit the defendants from illegally retaliating against employees in the future.

It also seeks payment of lost wages as well as compensatory, punitive and emotional distress damages to the employee, an offer of reinstatement with full benefits and seniority and the removal of all references to the matter in the worker’s employment records.

It would also require the employer to prominently post a notice that she will not discriminate against employees.

In a related action, OSHA’s Tarrytown Area Office conducted an inspection of Salon Zoe and cited the company in December 2012 for lack of a chemical hazard communication program and for not providing the salon’s employees with information and training on formaldehyde and other hazardous chemicals.

OSHA enforces the whistleblower* provisions of the OSH Act and 21 other statutes protecting employees who report violations of various airline, commercial motor carrier, consumer product, environmental, financial reform, food safety, health care reform, nuclear, pipeline, worker safety, public transportation agency, maritime and securities laws.

Employers are prohibited from retaliating against employees who raise various protected concerns or provide protected information to the employer or to the government.

Employees who believe that they have been retaliated against for engaging in protected conduct may file a complaint with the secretary of labor to request an investigation by OSHA’s Whistleblower Protection Program. Detailed information on employee whistleblower rights, including fact sheets, is available here.

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.

Source: OSHA

Remove dangerous chemicals in salons and spas

Hair salons, beauty centers and spas often use products that can contain and emit harmful chemicals and fumes.

Electrocorp's CleanBreeze 3 was conceived specifically for salons and spas

Electrocorp’s CleanBreeze 3 was designed for beauty salons and spas

These substances can affect worker health and well-being, especially after long-term exposure.

Electrocorp has designed a wide range of air cleaners for the hair styling and beauty industry, which help remove harmful fumes, chemicals, particles, odors and other contaminants from the ambient air.

Other air purifiers, such as Electrocorp’s CleanBreeze3, comes with a source capture attachment that can be positioned close to the head where the treatment is being used and helps remove harmful chemicals such as formaldehyde before they spread.

For more information and a free consultation, contact Electrocorp by calling 1-866-667-0297 or writing to sales@electrocorp.net.

Longtime exposure to contaminated air can affect workers' health and well-being.

Longtime exposure to contaminated air can affect workers’ health and well-being.

Workers exposed to combustible dust and other hazards at Illinois cornstarch processing facility

PARIS, Ill. – Workers were exposed to combustible cornstarch dust, dust particles in excess of permissible exposure limits and other hazards at Septimus Inc.

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration has cited the company for 21 serious safety and health violations, carrying proposed penalties of $46,400.

A complaint prompted the inspection at the facility, which processes cornstarch for use in laundry detergent and other products.

“Combustible dust can burn rapidly and explode with little warning, putting workers at risk for severe injury and death,” said Thomas Bielema, OSHA’s area director in Peoria.

“OSHA’s inspection found that Septimus used potential ignition sources, like forklifts and electrical equipment, in areas where combustible dust was present.”

OSHA’s April 30, 2014, inspection found workers were exposed because processing and dust collection equipment lacked protective covers.

If this dust is suspended in the air in the right concentration, under certain conditions, it can become explosive.

The inspection found the company operated powered industrial vehicles in poor repair that were not rated for use in environments where combustible dust was present.

These vehicles, along with numerous electrical violations, provided potential ignition sources for the dust. 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, 718 injuries and numerous extensively damaged industrial facilities.

Workers were also exposed to airborne concentrations of dust in excess of the permissible exposure limit, which can cause respiratory illness and lung disease. The company failed to implement administrative and engineering controls to reduce exposure limits.

Additional serious violations involved amputation hazards and included lack of machine guarding, failure to implement specific lockout/tagout procedures to prevent machinery from operating during service and maintenance, and workers exposed to fall hazards of 7 feet or greater from unguarded working platforms.

The company also failed to train workers about hazardous chemicals in use at the facility and to mark exit routes clearly and ensure they were free of obstructions.

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.

Septimus has a contract with Tate & Lyle to extrude, dry blend and package cornstarch. The company is owned by The Faultless Starch/Bon Ami Co. of Kansas City, Missouri.

Septimus 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.

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.

Source: OSHA

Concerned about airborne dust and chemicals at your workplace? Electrocorp has designed complete air cleaning systems with activated carbon and HEPA that can help remove airborne contaminants before they spread. Contact Electrocorp for more information and a free consultation.

Working with cars can be an occupational risk. Image: FreeDigitalPhotos

Working with cars can be an occupational risk.
Image: FreeDigitalPhotos

A complaint investigation found that Transport Tech LLC failed to provide employees with an effective training program, including information on appropriate handling and safe use of hazardous chemicals at its Hillside repair facility.

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration has cited the company for five repeat safety violations, carrying proposed penalties of $66,400.

“Workers have the right to know what chemicals they are exposed to and how to protect themselves against exposure, which can have severe health effects,” said Angeline Loftus, OSHA’s area director at the Chicago North office in Des Plaines.

“Employers have a responsibility to provide accurate information about the hazards their workers face each day, and Transport Tech failed to do that.”

OSHA initiated an inspection on March 28, 2014, after it received a complaint alleging hazards at the shop, which provides repair services for trucks operated by the national carrier Central Transport LLC.

Transport Tech failed to put identification and warning labels on containers filled with hazardous chemicals.

The company also failed to have an eyewash station readily accessible and provide portable fire extinguisher training, as required.

In addition, floors at the facility were not kept clean and dry to prevent slips and falls. The company was cited for similar violations in 2011 at the same facility.

OSHA issues repeat violations if an employer previously was cited for the same or a similar violation of any standard, regulation, rule or order at any other facility in federal enforcement states within the last five years.

Transport Tech, based in Warren, Michigan, 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.

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).

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.

Source: OSHA

Concerned about chemical exposure at the workplace? Longtime exposure to odors, gases, fumes and chemicals may affect employee well-being and productivity, resulting in poor health.

Electrocorp offers industrial and commercial air cleaners that can remove these and other air pollutants, providing cleaner and more breathable air.

Find out more about Electrocorp’s air cleaners for auto body shops and garages, or contact Electrocorp directly to find the right air cleaner for your workplace.

 

The silica sand used for fracking
puts workers at risk
Image: FreeDigitalPhotos

 

A work safety alert was recently sounded out in the hydraulic fracturing industry.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) both reported, after researching oil and gas well sites in five states, that workers were at risk for respiratory disease.

Though the thought that comes to mind with fracking is usually oil and gas, the two federal agencies found unusually high levels of silica sand in 80 percent of the air samples taken on the sites.

In fact, the samples revealed that over 30 percent of those samples contained levels of silica that were 10 times higher than safety regulations permit.

Exposure to silica sand dust through inhalation can cause silicosis, a life-threatening lung disease. OSHA and NIOSH suggest these oil and gas companies protect their workers by limiting their exposure to the particles. Respirators and exhaust vents are among some of the solutions proposed by the agencies.

During the fracking process, silica sand is combined with water and chemicals. This fluid is pressurized and then used to help break up shale deposits in the ground, allowing workers access to the oil and natural gas.

Though OSHA and NIOSH still have to conduct testing on the effects of exposure to silica sand, at least one Wyoming company has already tested its effects and implemented safety measures.

Knowledge on other companies’ plans is, as of yet, unknown but the Petroleum Association of Wyoming and The Wyoming Oil and Gas Safety Alliance have pledged their cooperation and plan to inform their members of the risks surrounding silica sand.

Do you or someone you know work in fracking? Tell us about your experiences with silica sand and how your company is dealing with the potential risks.

Source: Trib.com

Providing cleaner air

Electrocorp’s I-6500 Cyclone Collectors can extract fine particles, such as silica sand dust, from the air.

OSHA and NIOSH have made several suggestions for improving air quality. Of those recommendations is the use of exhaust vents.

Electrocorps’s I-6500 with Cyclone Collectors provides an air cleaning option that extracts dust and fine particles from the air through a pre-filter and a HEPA filter. There also activated carbon optionsfor chemicals, odors and gases.

We can also manufacture customized units for individual needs.

To speak to one of our IAQ experts about the I-6500 Cyclone Collector or for a customized unit, contact us at 1-866-667-0297.

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