OSHA has cited Formosa Plastics Corp. for 27 alleged serious workplace safety and health violations, including exposing workers to combustible dust hazards. Proposed penalties total $133,500.

OSHA initiated an investigation on Oct. 1, 2009, in response to an employee complaint.

The violations include the company's failure to properly contain polyvinyl chloride dust particles, evaluate contractors' safety programs and procedures, properly inspect process equipment, provide fire retardant clothing for employees, require employees to wear adequate eye protection with side shields, provide proper training and provide employees with an infirmary, clinic or person trained in first aid.

Additionally, inspectors identified hazards involving a lack of machine guarding, a deficient process safety management program, inadequate lockout/tagout procedures for energy sources and unguarded machinery, floor holes and walkways. OSHA issues a serious citation when there is substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result and the employer knew, or should have known, of the hazard.

"These violations are an indication that the employer needs to make improvements in its safety and health program," said Domenick Salvatore, director of OSHA's Wilmington, Del., office. "It is imperative that the company eliminate the combustible dust hazards, along with the other violations cited, to protect employees at this facility."

Formosa Plastics Corp. of Delaware City produces plastic resins and petrochemicals and employs 98 workers.

The company has 15 business days from receipt of the citations to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA's area director, or contest the citations and proposed penalties before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission. The investigation was conducted by OSHA's Wilmington Area Office; telephone: 302-573-6518. To report workplace accidents, fatalities or situations posing imminent danger to workers, call OSHA's toll-free hotline at 800-321-6742.