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OSHA fines Ohio plant for fire and explosion hazards

A global polyethylene foam product manufacturing company headquartered in Quebec, Canada, and with approximately 50 workers employed in a plant in the small city of Sidney in west-central Ohio is receiving unwanted attention from OSHA inspectors.

Earlier this year, a plant explosion that injured three employees and resulted in extensive property damage brought a follow-up inspection by federal safety regulators. They found a number of problems that increased the risk for electrical and burn injuries at the plant, as well as other potential sources of harm for workers, and have just issued a fine and citations aimed at spurring safer business practices.

IVEX Protective Packaging Inc. was fined $128,700 by OSHA, with the agency’s area director in Toledo stating that the company “endangered it workers” through noncompliance with OSHA safety standards and training requirements. The agency’s January inspection and subsequent enforcement actions resulted from an explosion caused by gas entering exhaust ductwork at the plant, which was subsequently ignited during the foam manufacturing process.

Inspectors say that they discovered a high number of safety problems at the plant, with multiple violations of federal safety rules being apparent. OSHA issued 21 safety citations to IVEX.

All those violations were deemed “serious,” reflecting the agency’s view that IVEX management knew or should have known that hazards were present that could result in death or serious injury to workers.

Most of the violations related to fire and explosion risks posed by hazardous conditions unaddressed at the plant. A few citations issued in response to the company’s failure to lock down machinery during servicing and failing to shut it down when effecting repairs.

Source: EHS Today, "IVEX Protective Packaging issued 21 OSHA citations," Sandy Smith, July 29, 2013

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