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The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has cited Fluid Management Systems Inc. for 29 alleged willful, serious and other-than-serious violations of safety and health standards at its Watertown, Mass., production plant. The manufacturer of analytical instruments faces a total of $125,000 in proposed penalties, chiefly for electrical, chemical and respirator hazards.
"Our inspection found employees working in close proximity to energized electrical circuits without proper training or personal protective equipment," said Paul Mangiafico, OSHA's area director for Middlesex and Essex counties. "OSHA standards require that circuits be de-energized before employees work on them and that appropriate personal protective equipment be supplied and used in those rare instances where de-energizing is not feasible."
Among the other electrical-related hazards found during the inspection were instances of unguarded or uncovered live electrical parts, equipment and openings; failing to de-energize live electrical parts before working on them; not training employees in safe electrical work practices; and allowing unqualified employees to work on energized equipment.
Additional hazards included unmarked exit routes; improperly stored compressed gas cylinders; inadequate lockout/tagout safeguards; improper training and lack of eyewashes for employees working with methylene chloride; unlabeled containers of hazardous chemicals; and inadequate respiratory protection safeguards.
As a result, OSHA has issued Fluid Management Systems Inc. two willful citations, with $70,000 in proposed fines, for the lack of personal protective equipment and for work in close proximity to energized electrical circuits. OSHA has issued 26 serious citations, with $53,500 in fines for the remaining items. The company also has been issued one other-than-serious citation with a $1,500 fine for not recording injuries and illnesses in the OSHA 300 log or equivalent.
OSHA defines a willful violation as one committed with plain indifference to or intentional disregard for employee safety and health. Serious citations are issued when death or serious physical harm is likely to result from hazards about which the employer knew or should have known.
Fluid Management Systems Inc. has 15 business days from receipt of its citations and proposed penalties to comply, participate in an informal conference with the OSHA area director or contest them before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.