Embalming Fluid Facility Cited for Formaldehyde Hazards

OSHA has cited The Dodge Co. Inc. for 41 alleged violations of workplace safety and health standards at its Cambridge, Mass., production plant. The embalming fluid manufacturer faces $138,000 in fines for inadequate safeguards involving formaldehyde stored and used in manufacturing processes at the plant as well as for various chemical, mechanical, and electrical hazards identified during comprehensive inspections conducted over the past several months by OSHA's area office in Andover, Mass.

The agency found that the plant lacked a process safety management (PSM) program and procedures to proactively assess and address hazards associated with processes and equipment using large amounts of formaldehyde and that the plant also lacked controls and other safeguards to reduce the levels of formaldehyde to which some workers were overexposed.

OSHA also identified numerous deficiencies in the plant's respiratory protection, emergency response, hazardous energy control, chemical hygiene and chemical hazard communication programs as well as electrical hazards, unguarded moving machine parts, untrained forklift operators, failure to maintain work floors in a clean condition, and the use of unapproved forklifts where flammables are used.

"Workers' exposure to excess formaldehyde levels can impact their health, while the other conditions cited here pose more acute safety hazards," said Paul Mangiafico, OSHA's area director for Middlesex and Essex counties. "All of these hazards must be effectively corrected for the safety and health of the plant's workers."

As a result, OSHA has issued the company 38 serious citations for these hazards plus four other-than-serious citations for incomplete and inadequate recordkeeping. OSHA issues serious citations when death or serious physical harm is likely to result from hazards about which the employer knew or should have known.

The company has 15 business days from receipt of its citations and proposed penalties to comply, meet with OSHA's area director, or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission. Detailed information about process safety management and formaldehyde is available online at www.osha.gov/SLTC/processsafetymanagement/index.html and www.osha.gov/OshDoc/data_General_Facts/formaldehyde-factsheet.pdf.

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