Flexible Foam Firm Fined $72,000 for Combustible Dust Hazards, More

OSHA is issuing seven serious and two repeat safety citations against Flexible Foam Products Inc. in Miami for exposing workers to combustible foam dust and other workplace hazards. Proposed penalties total $72,000.

The company is being cited with two repeat violations and $50,000 in proposed fines for allegedly failing to keep an area clean and free of dangerous accumulations of explosive and combustible foam dust and for failing to install machine guards on cutting machines to protect workers from amputation hazards. The repeat violations were uncovered during an inspection in May that followed an inspection conducted in November 2009.

Five serious citations with $22,000 in penalties are also being proposed for allegedly operating unapproved propane-powered forklifts in areas with a potential for a dust explosion or fire; using forklifts with nonworking lights; using electrical fixtures not approved for use in explosive atmospheres; using a frayed cord to operate machinery; and operating a bench grinder without a machine guard to protect employees from flying pieces of stone. A serious citation is issued when there is substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result from a hazard about which the employer knew or should have known.

"Employers need to be aware that OSHA will be conducting follow-up inspections to ensure that past violations are being corrected," said Darlene Fossum, director of OSHA's Fort Lauderdale Area Office in Florida. "OSHA will not hesitate to take additional actions against employers who have demonstrated recalcitrance or indifference to following the law."

Flexible Foam Products Inc. employs approximately 700 people at 19 locations in the U.S. and produces polyurethane foam and foam products.

The company has 15 business days from receipt of the citations and proposed penalties to comply, request a conference with OSHA's area director or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

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