A Texas powder coating company allegedly exposed workers to toxic chemicals, including silica, and now faces $55,440 in proposed penalties, federal authorities say.
Outdoor Furniture Refinishing Inc., doing business as Allied Powder Coating, is accused of 15 serious health and safety violations, the Occupational Health and Safety Administration announced May 22.
OSHA inspected the company's Houston facility under its Regional Emphasis Program on Safety and Health Hazards in the Manufacture of Fabricated Metals.
'Predictable' & 'Preventable'
"Allied Powder Coating has a responsibility to provide a safe workplace for its employees," said Mark Briggs, OSHA's area director in the Houston South Area Office.
Allied Powder Coating
Allied Powder Coating was cited for 15 serious health and safety violations, including allegedly exposing workers to toxic chemicals, such as silica.
"OSHA standards are in place to protect workers from predictable and preventable injuries and illnesses, and the company ignored these standards at the expense of worker safety."
The company did not respond to a request for comment Wednesday (May 28).
Allied Powder Coating serves industrial, commercial and residential markets in the powder coating and plating industry. According to its website, its combined facilities in Houston total 76,000 square feet, making it one of the largest powder coating facilities in Texas.
The violations allege:
Exposing workers to toxic chemicals, including silica, beyond established occupational limits;
Failure to institute a noise monitoring program;
Failure to equip the spray booth with an alarm to indicate proper maintenance of required air velocity, or with sprinklers or an exhaust;
Failure to fit test and medically evaluate workers for respirators; and
Not properly storing respirators or inspecting them before use.
OSHA considers a serious violation to occur when there is substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result from a hazard the employer knew or should have known about.
Allied Powder Coating has 15 days from receiving the citations to comply, request a conference with OSHA's area director, or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety & Health Review Commission.
OSHA's Silica Push
OSHA published a Proposed Rule on Occupational Exposure to Respirable Crystalline Silica in September 2013. The public comment period was extended several times, and public hearings opened in March.
The proposed rulemaking includes two separate standards—one for general industry and maritime employment, and one for construction—that would have widespread impact on the industrial and commercial coating and abrasive-blasting industries.
Construction employers have urged OSHA to withdraw the proposal, calling it "significantly flawed" and saying it "will do little to improve workplace health or safety."
Meanwhile, coating makers, represented by the American Coatings Association, are seeking an exemption from the rule, contending that current controls adequately protect paint manufacturing and many painting operations from excessive silica exposure.