Chemical exposure kills one worker, sends another to hospital
Total workforce: three
OSHA has cited Vivid Image Inc. with 12 safety violations–including two willful–after one worker died and another was hospitalized from exposure to the chemical toluene at the Theresa, Wis., manufacturing plant on Nov. 29.
Two willful violations involved workers not wearing respiratory protection while working with the chemical toluene in an unventilated area, and for exposure to toluene beyond the peak level of 500 parts per million.
OSHA guidelines limit peak toluene exposure to 10 minutes per single time period for any eight-hour shift, with a time weighted average exposure of 200 parts per million. Toluene is a clear, colorless liquid used in a variety of industries and is a common solvent for products such as paints, thinners and glues. Vivid Image specializes in coating production and micro screens.
Additionally, 10 serious safety and health violations include a failure to reasonably evaluate toluene air concentrations; shut off the ventilation system and block the exhaust duct while applying screen coating material containing toluene; disallow ignition sources inside the coating room where flammable material was mixed and applied; develop and implement a written hazard communication program; provide worker training on physical and health hazards of coating material; properly storing flammable liquids; provide guarding on a table saw; prevent exposed electrical wires using extension cords instead of permanent wiring; and provide fork truck training.
Proposed penalties total $64,600.
Due to the willful nature of some of the violations, OSHA has placed Vivid Image in its Severe Violator Enforcement Program, which mandates targeted follow-up inspections to ensure compliance with the law. The program focuses on recalcitrant employers that endanger workers by committing willful, repeat or failure-to-abate violations. For more information about the program, visit s.dol.gov/J3.
Vivid Image, which employs three workers, has 15 business days from receipt of its current citations and penalties to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA's area director or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.