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Kingston Factory Fined for Worker Hazards

Published February 21, 2013 by Scott Gottlieb, Injury Law Attorney

A New York company that makes roof insulation panels has been charged with 23 workplace safety violations – including exposing its workers to hazardous chemicals.

Hunter Panels LLC has been cited by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) for workplace dangers at its Kingston production plant. The company faces a total of $123,000 in fines.

The action came after OSHA officials inspected the Kingston facility in July 2012.

Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers must provide safe and healthy workplaces. Companies that violate the law and expose their employees to workplace dangers can face governmental penalties as well as private civil liability.

Following is from the OSHA news release:

OSHA found several deficiencies in the plant’s process safety management program, a detailed set of requirements and procedures employers must follow to address proactively hazards associated with processes and equipment involving large amounts of hazardous chemicals. In this case, the chemical was n-pentane, an organic compound used in the manufacturing process. The cited deficiencies included missing process safety information, failing to develop and implement safe work practices, correct equipment deficiencies, follow up on the findings of compliance audits, address all hazards identified during a process hazard analysis, and document the resolution of corrective actions.

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 stringent and comprehensive requirements of OSHA’s process safety management standard are designed to prevent catastrophic incidents, such as the uncontrolled release of highly hazardous chemicals,” said Kimberly Castillon, OSHA’s area director in Albany.

OSHA’s inspection identified other potential worker dangers at Hunter Panels, including:

  • Deficiencies in the plant’s emergency response, confined space and hazardous energy control programs
  • Lack of personal protective equipment
  • Accumulation of combustible dust
  • Fall hazards
  • Respirator hazards.

View the citations here.

To file a complaint or report workplace hospitalizations, fatalities or situations posing imminent danger to workers, call OSHA’s toll-free hotline at 800-321-OSHA (6742) or the agency’s Albany office at 518-464-4338.

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