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August 09, 2013
OSHA plays hardball with foam products company

An Ohio manufacturing business is facing more than $128,000 in proposed fines in the wake of an explosion that injured three workers and caused significant property damage. When OSHA inspected the facility, they found numerous violations of the standard regulating process safety management (PSM) of highly hazardous chemicals.

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Find out what compliance problems this employer is facing and how you can avoid similar citations.

The plant manufactures polyethylene foam products. According to OSHA, the explosion occurred when isobutane gas entered exhaust ductwork and was ignited. OSHA inspectors cited the employer for 17 serious violations related to PSM. These included failing to address fire and explosion hazards within ventilation ducting and failing to train workers on the consequences of deviating from operating limits.

14 essential process safety management elements

According to OSHA, the objective of the PSM standard is to prevent unwanted releases of hazardous chemicals, especially in locations where employees and others could be exposed. An effective PSM program requires a systematic approach to evaluating the whole chemical process. Elements that must be considered include:

  1. Process safety information,
  2. Process hazard analysis,
  3. Operating procedures,
  4. Training,
  5. Contractors,
  6. Mechanical integrity,
  7. Hot work,
  8. Management of change,
  9. Incident investigation,
  10. Compliance audits,
  11. Trade secrets,
  12. Employee participation,
  13. Pre-start-up safety review, and
  14. Emergency planning and response.

OSHA says that regardless of the industry using highly hazardous chemicals, “there is a potential for an accidental release any time they are not properly controlled, creating the possibility of disaster.”

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