OSHA has fined a medical devices sterilization company in Waukegan, Ill., $117,000 for repeat and serious violations of federal workplace safety standards.

As the result of a safety and health inspection conducted last August, the agency has issued Steris Isomedix Services citations for three repeat violations, with proposed penalties of $62,500. These violations include failing to provide adequate protection, training, monitoring and emergency plans regarding employee exposure to ethylene oxide (EtO), a dangerous, colorless gas used in the sterilization process.

The company was also cited for 12 serious violations, with proposed penalties of $54,500. These include failure to:

• address hazards associated with exposures to EtO;
• implement engineering controls to lower employee exposure to EtO levels exceeding OSHA's permissible exposure limits;
• provide baseline medical examinations for employees prior to working with EtO; and
• address the absence of guardrails on platforms and scaffolding.

Steris Isomedix Services employs 37 people in Waukegan. It is a subsidiary of Steris Corp., headquartered in Mentor, Ohio, which employs 5,000 people companywide. Previously, OSHA inspected the company five times between 1999 and 2006 at various locations.