Teflon Maker Cited for Willful Machinery Dangers in Texas

OSHA has cited FAST-Houston with one alleged willful, two alleged serious, and two alleged other-than-serious violations for failing to protect workers from energized machinery hazards at its facility in Humble, Texas. Proposed penalties total $72,900.

The agency's Houston North Area Office began its investigation Feb. 3, finding violations of workplace safety and health standards. A willful violation was issued for failing to protect workers from hazards associated with rotating energized machinery and disabling safety interlocks on the machinery. A willful violation is one committed with intentional, knowing or voluntary disregard for the law's requirements, or with plain indifference to employee safety and health.

The alleged serious violations were issued for failing to implement an effective energy control program and to provide adequate machine guarding on grinders. A serious violation is one that could cause death or serious physical harm to employees when the employer knew or should have known of the hazard.

Other-than-serious violations were issued for failing to properly certify annual injury and illness records, and to train employees on the use of respirators. An other-than-serious violation is one that has a direct relationship to job safety and health but probably would not cause death or serious physical harm.

"Employees have the right to work in a safe and healthful workplace," said David Doucet, director of OSHA's Houston North Area Office. "OSHA has specific standards for operating lathes and milling machinery, and they must be applied for worker safety."

FAST-Houston employs about 285 workers who manufacture plastics, Teflon, and metallic seals for various high-pressure applications. The company has 15 business days from receipt of the citations to comply, request an informal conference with the Houston North area director, or contest the citations and penalties before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

Employers and employees with questions regarding workplace safety and health standards can call OSHA's Houston North Area Office at 281-591-2438 or OSHA's toll-free hotline at 800-321-6742 to report workplace accidents, fatalities, or situations posing imminent danger to workers.

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