chemical plantWorkers at Georgia-Pacific Chemicals LLC were exposed to dangerous chemicals, such as formaldehyde and other potential health and safety hazards, because the company failed to implement proper chemical management procedures at its Columbus plant. An investigation of the Columbus, Ohio plant by OSHA produced 11 serious violations with penalties totaling $60,500.

PSM standard violated

OSHA cited the violations under its Process Safety Management Standards, which contain specific requirements for managing highly hazardous chemicals in work processes. One of the hazards identified was formaldehyde, which is manufactured for use in various industrial applications and products. Formaldehyde can irritate the skin, eyes, nose and throat; it is deadly if swallowed. Formaldehyde also is a fire and explosion hazard if exposed to heat or flame. It is a colorless, strong-smelling gas.

Potentially catastrophic

"Chemical manufacturing can be catastrophic if proper safeguards are not in place, and Georgia-Pacific Chemicals failed to meet that responsibility," said Deborah Zubaty, OSHA's area director in Columbus. "Exposure to formaldehyde can have serious health consequences. Workers should not be put at risk because this company failed to implement required procedures."

The findings

The July 16, 2014, inspection found that Georgia-Pacific Chemical's standard operating procedures did not contain accurate information on safety systems and how they worked. The company's process hazard analysis, an evaluation used to identify potential hazards associated with the processing of highly hazardous chemicals, failed to address many issues in the plant. In addition, employees were not trained in changes to these processes, and inspections and equipment testing were not completed as scheduled.

Atlanta-based Georgia-Pacific Chemicals, a subsidiary of Georgia-Pacific LLC, is a nationwide chemical manufacturer and distributor. The company produces a diverse range of products used in the building, oil and gas, mining, paper and packaging industries.