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Fire at Conn. manufacturing company injures four workers

November 26, 2012

fireA fire alarm that didn’t work, improperly grounded machinery and a lack of PPE were some of the hazards found by OSHA at a Connecticut manufacturing facility, after an August fire that left four workers hospitalized.

Uretek Archer LLC, a urethane coating and laminate fabric manufacturer in New Haven, was cited for both serious and repeat violations of workplace safety standards after the blaze, which occurred when a flammable solvent used to clean machines ignited.

OSHA found that the employer had not taken adequate precautions to eliminate potential ignition sources. Several violations related to the incident involve an inoperable fire alarm system, no assurance that fire precaution procedures were in place, improperly grounded machinery, a lack of hazard inspections, a lack of personal protective equipment for workers, and failing to provide and record adequate fire extinguisher training. Additionally, there were no lockout/tagout procedures in place while workers were cleaning machinery in the facility. OSHA's standard for hazardous energy control, or lockout/tagout, requires that machines be shut down and their power sources locked out to prevent unintended start-up during maintenance and cleaning.

Two repeat violations involve failing to develop, document and use methods of controlling potentially hazardous energy when workers perform maintenance on equipment, as well as conduct annual inspections of energy control procedures. Uretek Archer was cited for similar violations in 2008. A repeat violation exists when an employer previously has been cited for the same or a similar violation of a standard, regulation, rule or order at any other facility in federal enforcement states within the last five years.

Proposed penalties total $74,000.