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Fine Levied for Paint Chemical Hazards

Thursday, March 31, 2016

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Federal authorities allege that workers were exposed to toxic levels of chemicals in adhesives and paints because a Wisconsin facility in which they were working in lacked adequate engineering controls.

Winter Woods Inc., of Glidden, faces 10 serious safety violations stemming from an October 2015 investigation, according to an announcement issued by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

OSHA has proposed fines totaling $70,000 in the case.

chemicals
©iStock.com / Madamlead

The workers were exposed to excessive levels of chemicals commonly used in paints and adhesives, according to OSHA.

Winter Woods is a specialty wood and floral company that makes wreaths, scented pine cone, birch, fire starters and other products for wholesale to nurseries, garden centers and for use in fundraising. The company did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the case.

Allegations

Agency inspectors found a lack of sufficient engineering controls allowed employees to suffer exposure to toluene and xylene, chemicals commonly used in paints and adhesives, at the company's facility. Excessive toluene and xylene exposure can cause headache, weakness, confusion, muscle fatigue as well as damage to the liver and kidneys, according to OSHA.

Investigators found Winter Woods allegedly failed to:

  • Provide a working environment free from recognized hazards;
  • Implement engineering controls to prevent employee from over exposure to hazardous chemicals;
  • Identify and evaluate respiratory hazards;
  • Complete employee medical evaluations and fit workers for respirators;
  • Properly store chemicals; and
  • Train employees about hazardous chemicals used in the workplace.

"Exposing employees to two hazardous chemicals at levels exceeding permissible exposure jeopardizes workers' safety and health," said Mark Hysell, OSHA's area director in Eau Claire. "Employers working with hazardous materials must determine the dangers that chemicals present before exposing employees to them. The employer must ensure engineering controls, work practices and personal protective equipment requirements are in place and in use to minimize exposure to toxins and protect their workers."

   

Tagged categories: Coating chemistry; Construction chemicals; Exposure conditions; Health and safety; Workers

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