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Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez
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News Release

OSHA News Release: [10/19/2011]
Contact Name: Scott Allen or Rhonda Burke
Phone Number: (312) 353-6976 or x6976
Release Number: 11-1510-KAN

US Department of Labor's OSHA cites America's Fiberglass Animals in Minden, Neb., for failure-to-abate, repeat and serious violations

Proposed penalties total nearly $170,000

MINDEN, Neb. — he U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration has cited America's Fiberglass Animals for eight repeat and seven serious violations of safety and health standards found during an inspection at the company's manufacturing facility in Minden, which was conducted as a follow-up after the company moved operations from Hastings. Two failure-to-abate notices also were issued because the company had not corrected employee respiratory hazards cited at the Hastings location. Proposed fines total $169,260.

The failure-to-abate notices with $63,000 in fines were issued for failing to provide fit-testing and medical evaluations for employees who were required to wear respirators to be protected from hazardous airborne chemical vapors and dust. A failure-to-abate notice applies to a condition, hazard or practice found uncorrected upon re-inspection that is the same for which the employer was originally cited.

"America's Fiberglass Animals was cited last year for exposing employees to serious chemical hazards that can affect the respiratory system, as well as for other dangerous conditions, and failed to correct those hazards," said Charles E. Adkins, OSHA's regional administrator in Kansas City, Mo. "All employers must take the necessary steps to eliminate hazards from the workplace."

The repeat violations with $73,920 in fines address hazards associated with the use of unrated electrical systems and equipment in a location where combustible dust accumulated, the lack of mechanical ventilation and the presence of ignition sources inside an area where flammable liquids were sprayed, the storage of flammable liquids in the vicinity of a spray area, and the lack of a respirator program for employees who were required to wear respirators to protect them from exposure to hazardous airborne chemicals. A repeat violation exists when an employer previously has been cited for the same or a similar violation of a standard, regulation, rule or order at any other facility in federal enforcement states within the last five years. The company was cited in July 2010 for the repeat and failure-to-abate violations at its Hastings facility.

The serious violations with $32,340 in fines involve improperly storing flammable chemicals; allowing hazardous materials to accumulate in a spray area; spraying organic peroxides and dual component resins outside of a spray booth; failing to use non-sparking tools in areas where hazardous chemicals were stored, mixed and applied; allowing employees to consume food and beverages in areas exposed to toxic materials; and failing to train workers on the use of fire extinguishers and how to detect the presence of 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.

The citations can be viewed at http://www.osha.gov/ooc/citations/AmFiberglass_314059882_1019_11.pdf.

The company creates custom Fiberglas forms for public art projects and other uses. The company has 15 business days from receipt of the citations to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA's area director in Omaha, 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) or the agency's Omaha Area Office at 402-553-0174.

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. For more information, visit http://www.osha.gov.