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March 13, 2024
Georgia chemical manufacturer facing $289K OSHA fine

Atlanta chemical manufacturer Southern Industrial Chemicals Inc. (operating as SIC Technologies) is facing $289,439 in Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) penalties following agency safety and health inspections, OSHA announced March 8.

The agency cited the employer with 67 serious violations, and it reported finding both safety and health hazards, like chemical exposures and struck-by hazards. According to the agency, the employer failed to:

  • Provide feasible engineering controls to reduce employee exposures to hexavalent chromium.
  • Establish and implement a respiratory protection program, and provide a medical evaluation before workers were fit tested or required to use respirators.
  • Develop and implement a comprehensive hazard communication program for the handling and use of hazardous chemicals.
  • Provide laboratory employees with information and training on hazardous chemicals in the lab. 
  • Provide changing rooms for contaminated protective clothing to prevent cross-contamination of employees’ regular clothes. 
  • Provide suitable facilities for quick drenching or flushing of the eyes and body.
  • Use drums and containers that meet appropriate federal regulations for the waste they contained.
  • Ensure chemical drums and pallets were stacked on storage racks in a secure manner. 
  • Provide proper training and certification of employees using powered industrial trucks. 
  • Develop and implement an energy control program, including written lockout procedures, and training for employees required to perform cleaning and maintenance involving dangerous machinery.
  • Develop and implement a permit-required confined space program for employees required to enter tanks and vessels.
  • Guard unused portions of a band saw to prevent unintended contact with the saw blade.

“Southern Industrial Chemicals failed to make employee safety and health a priority. Chemical exposures can lead to incurable and life-altering conditions, so it’s vital that employers take immediate steps to recognize and mitigate life-threatening hazards like those found in this investigation,” Jeffery Stawowy, OSHA’s Atlanta-west area office director, said in an agency statement. “Employers must evaluate and effectively control respiratory hazards in the workplace and establish a hazard communication program that meets or exceeds federal safety standards to protect workers.”

According to OSHA, U.S. workers suffer more than 190,000 illnesses and approximately 50,000 deaths annually because of chemical exposures­—an estimate calculated using a methodology developed by the Center for Occupational and Environmental Health at the University of California, Berkeley.

The agency cited Southern Industrial Chemicals with violations of the hazard communication standard, along with violations of other frequently cited standards—powered industrial trucks, lockout/tagout (control of hazardous energy), respiratory protection, and machine guarding. Last fall, the agency announced its top 10 most cited standards during fiscal year 2023, which included:

  • Hazard Communication (29 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) §1910.1200): 3,213 violations;
  • Powered Industrial Trucks (§1910.178): 2,561 violations;
  • Lockout/Tagout (§1910.147): 2,554 violations;
  • Respiratory Protection (§1910.134): 2,481 violations; and
  • Machine Guarding (§1910.212): 1,644 violations.

The agency has an ongoing hexavalent chromium National Emphasis Program (NEP), launched in 2010, that superseded all earlier local and regional emphasis programs. The NEP is aimed at addressing workplace exposures to hexavalent chromium and other toxic substances often found in conjunction with hexavalent chromium.

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