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Combustible dust danger at Georgia site (2/9)

February 9, 2011
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Dust was a recurring theme among many of the 46 OSHA violations received by Protech Environmental South, Inc. recently. The manufacturing company, which also does business as U.S. Erosion Control Products, Inc. had inadequate dust control, exposed workers to dust without respiratory protection and failed to clean up thick dust accumulations, according to an agency press release.

But beyond combustible dust hazards, doing business as U.S. Erosion Control Products, Inc. was also cited for using unapproved electrical equipment and forklifts in locations that may include flammable or combustible materials, absence of a fire extinguisher in a straw storage area and fire extinguishers missing from their mounts.

Additional serious citations included exposing workers to fall hazards, electrical hazards, obstructed exit routes, hazards related to the use of liquid propane gas, amputation hazards from a lack of machine guards, hazards from damaged forklifts, and hazards related to lack of eye protection and lack of a hearing conservation program.

The citations – adding up to proposed penalties totallying $55,250 – came on the hells of an investigation launched after a complaint was received about the company’s site in Willacoochee, Ga.

"Combustible dust is a major safety and health hazard, and employers must recognize and correct hazards that expose their employees to death or serious physical harm," said Robert Vazzi, OSHA's area director in Savannah.

OSHA initiated its Combustible Dust National Emphasis Program on Oct. 18, 2007, to inspect facilities that generate or handle combustible dust that poses a deflagration/explosion or other fire hazard. Following a massive sugar dust explosion at Imperial Sugar's Port Wentworth, Ga., facility on Feb. 7, 2008, that killed 14 workers and injured many more, OSHA revised the combustible dust program to include more inspections and to focus on industries with frequent and high consequence dust incidents.

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