OSHA News Brief: [03/19/2015]
Contact Name: Ted Fitzgerald or Andre J. Bowser
Phone Number: (617) 565-2075 or x2074
Email: Fitzgerald.Edmund@dol.gov or Bowser.Andre.J@dol.gov
Release Number: 15-0454-NEW
Queensbury, New York, packaging materials manufacturer exposes employees to fire, explosion and electrical hazards
Pregis Corp. faces $73,000 in OSHA fines for 13 serious violations
Employer name: Pregis Corp., a manufacturer of foam, paper and plastic packaging materials
Inspection site: 300 Lower Warren St., Queensbury, New York 12804
Date inspection initiated: The inspection, which began Sept. 19, 2014, was conducted under OSHA's National Emphasis Program on chemical facilities and focused on OSHA's Process Safety Management, or PSM, standard. The standard details specific requirements for employers to meet to prevent or minimize the consequences of catastrophic releases of large amounts of highly hazardous chemicals, in this case, 50,000 pounds of Isobutane, a flammable colorless gas used in the manufacturing process at the plant.
Investigation findings: OSHA's inspection found several serious deficiencies in the plant's PSM program. These included incomplete analysis of hazards; inaccurate diagrams of the piping system; not conducting inspections and testing of the PSM covered systems; not correcting deficiencies; not addressing recommendations in a timely manner; not updating safety information when changes occurred in the manufacturing process; and not investigating incidents that could have resulted in a catastrophic chemical release. The inspection also determined that the plant allowed accumulations of combustible dust to build up in the workplace; did not provide training and personal protective equipment to employees working with live electricity; and located exit routes near hazardous areas. These conditions resulted in Pregis Corp. being cited for 13 serious violations of workplace health and safety standards.
Proposed Penalties: $73,000.
Quote: "Numerous deficiencies in the plant's process safety management program exposed its employees to the dangers of potentially fatal fires and explosions and an increased risk of a catastrophic release of this highly hazardous chemical," said Kim Castillon, OSHA's area director in Albany. "While no release occurred, the hazard was real and present. Pregis must strengthen and improve its chemical safeguards to absolutely minimize the possibility of a life-threatening incident."
Next: Pregis Corp. has 15 business days from receipt of its citations and proposed penalties to comply, meet informally 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), or the agency's Albany Area Office at 518- 464-4338.