OSHA fines Bristol, Conn., manufacturing plant $142,550

RP news wires, Noria Corporation
Tags: workplace safety

Conditions that exposed employees to potential fires, explosions and other hazards have resulted in the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) issuing $142,550 in proposed fines to a Bristol, Conn., manufacturer of precision springs.

Associated Spring, Barnes Group Inc. was cited for 53 alleged serious violations of safety and health standards at its Main Street factory following OSHA inspections begun in September 2006. These were conducted under an OSHA program that targets workplaces with high instances of lost workdays, restricted duty or job transfers due to occupational injuries or illnesses. OSHA issues a serious citation when death or serious physical harm is likely to result from a hazard about which the employer knew or should have known.

OSHA found several hazards involving combustible and flammable materials, including the company's failure to control and clean combustible dust generated during the manufacturing process; open containers of flammable liquids; excess amounts of flammable liquids stored on the shop floor; flammable liquids sprayed within five feet of ignition sources; untested and uninspected ventilation systems; and ungrounded and unbonded containers of flammable and combustible liquids.

"The accumulation of combustible dust, some of it near ignition sources, and the failure to prevent its buildup is particularly disturbing since dust explosions usually occur without warning, causing injuries, deaths and substantial property damage," said C. William Freeman III, OSHA's area director in Hartford. "Other conditions found during the inspections, if left uncorrected, leave employees vulnerable to lacerations, amputations, crushing injuries, electrocution, burns and hearing loss."

The inspections also identified numerous instances of unguarded or inadequately guarded machinery; defects with lifting chains and slings; improperly maintained forklift trucks; inadequate forklift operator training; electrical hazards; lack of personal protective equipment; lack of timely bloodborne pathogen training; inadequate hazard assessment; and lack of annual audiograms for employees exposed to high noise levels.

The company has 15 business days from receipt of the citations to request and participate in an informal conference with the OSHA area director or to contest them before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

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