Illinois Production Firm Fined $63,000 Following Worker's Burning

OSHA has cited PolyChem Services Inc. in Chicago Heights, Ill., for one safety and five health violations, including a willful health violation for failing to ensure confined spaces were safe to enter, after a worker received second- and third-degree burns at the plant in November 2010.

"Requiring workers to enter confined spaces where known hazards exist without implementing a safe entry permit program is unacceptable," said Gary Anderson, OSHA's area director in Calumet City. "Employers are responsible for knowing what hazards exist in their facilities and must take appropriate precautions by following OSHA regulations to ensure the safety and health of their workers."

The company faces proposed fines totaling $63,000.

The willful violation, with a penalty of $42,000, was cited after employees allegedly were required to enter a portable baker tank and a reactor vessel that had not been evaluated first for safe entry by purging, flushing, and ventilating the space, and verifying the conditions were safe. In addition, safe entry permits and related employee training had not been completed.

Four serious health violations, with penalties of $16,800, include failing to assess work sites for hazards requiring personal protective equipment; failing to develop and implement a written respiratory protection program; use of electrical cables for non-authorized purposes; and failing to implement a hazardous chemical training program.

The serious safety citation, with a $4,200 penalty, was cited for failing to provide employees with electrical safety training necessary to perform voltage testing, which exposed them to electrical shock hazards.

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