Workers cleaning a chemical spill at Penda Corp. in Portage, Wisc. had not been trained in proper cleanup procedures or provided proper personal protective equipment, according to an investigation by OSHA, which found that workers experienced symptoms of overexposure to an isocyanates chemical used in plastics manufacturing that can cause occupational asthma and other lung problems, as well as irritation of the eyes, nose, throat and skin. Seven serious violations, carrying proposed penalties of $49,000, were cited.
OSHA initiated the inspection on Sept. 5, 2014, under the National Emphasis Program for Occupational Exposure to Isocyanates*, after it received a complaint that alleged improper cleanup of a spill of approximately 100 gallons of the chemical diphenylmethane diisocyanate, a type of isocyanate.
"An employer, who works with hazardous chemicals, has a responsibility to train workers in proper chemical handling and how to respond to spills and other emergencies," said Kim Stille, OSHA's area director in Madison. "Common safety precautions, including protective clothing and respirators, prevent injuries and illnesses and must be part of the daily routine of workers in such manufacturing environments."
OSHA cited the company for lack of a hazardous materials spill response plan and failure to train workers on how to respond to spills. Additionally, required personal protective equipment, such as gloves and respirators, was not provided. Penda Corp. manufactures plastic thermoformed products for various markets, including the automotive industry and for material handling.