Occupational Health & Safety

Houston Recycling Plant Penalized for Exposing Workers to Hazardous Substances

OSHA began its investigation in August in response to a complaint, and found workers exposed to sulfuric acid and caustic soda while recovering silver from X-ray film and processing plastics for recycling. Proposed penalties total $144,760.

OSHA has cited Petag Corp. for 31 safety and health violations at the company's recycling plant in Houston. OSHA began its investigation in August in response to a complaint, and found workers exposed to sulfuric acid and caustic soda while recovering silver from X-ray film and processing plastics for recycling. Proposed penalties total $144,760.

OSHA's Houston North Area Office cited Petag for 15 serious violations, including failing to follow manufacturers' safety requirements for operating a furnace; provide handrails on industrial stairways; provide personal protective equipment, such as safety glasses and gloves; provide warning signs for permit-required confined spaces; provide hazard communication training; ensure the use of seatbelts while operating a forklift; and provide machine guarding for chains, sprockets, pulleys, and shaft ends.

Seven repeat violations include failing to provide sanitary washing facilities as well as access to eyewash and shower stations; provide fall protection, such as standard guardrails or fall arrest devices, when employees are working on platforms; provide training on lockout/tagout procedures for machines' energy sources; and provide the required machine guarding. OSHA cited the company for similar violations in 2006.

Eight other-than-serious violations include failing to provide required information for voluntary respirator use and injury and illness record-keeping deficiencies.

"This employer has repeatedly exposed its workers to possible injuries and illnesses," said David Doucet, OSHA's area director for the Houston North office. "Such disregard for workers' safety and health will not be tolerated."

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