Paint stripper hazards, inadequate paint-area fire extinguishers, lack of training and MSDS, and widespread lack of respiratory and personal protection have led to 30 citations and a $163,220 fine against a California company.
California’s Department of Occupational Safety and Health (Cal/OSHA) issued the citations for four willful, eight serious, 14 general and four regulatory health and safety violations against Orange County Metal Processing, a plating shop in Fullerton, CA.
|Multiple citations alleged lack of training and protection for workers using methylene chloride paint removers, which have been cited in a rash of accidental deaths.|
DOSH’s Santa Ana district office initiated the investigation on a referral from the Orange County District Attorney’s Office’s Strike Force, a collaboration of local, county and state agencies that focus on employers who violate multiple environmental, labor, and health and safety laws.
Containment, Programs Cited
The four willful citations accounted for $98,000 in fines. Three of those citations related to lack of an Injury and Illness Prevention, Hazard Communications and Respiratory Protection program. DOSH issued the 30-year-old business 15 citations in 1996, and a health and safety consultant has provided extensive information to the company on these requirements.
The fourth willful citation related to the lack of separate, secondary containment between open vats of zinc cyanide and hydrochloric acid in December 2011. The containment is supposed to be separated in case of a tank rupture, which could generate hydrogen cyanide gas, the same substance used in gas chambers for execution. The Fullerton Fire Department ordered the company in April, May and June 2011 to address the containment issue.
The company declined to comment Monday (June 18) on the allegations.
Paint Stripper Violations
The company also faces multiple citations related to use of methylene chloride paint remover.
Cal/OSHA said the company failed to:
• File the required notification with authorities regarding worker use of methylene chloride, a regulated carcinogen;
• Train employees who work with the chemical;
• Evaluate employee exposures for the chemical;
• Provide MSDS for the product; and
• Provide appropriate respiratory protection or other personal protective equipment for workers using the product.
Cal/OSHA cited similar violations regarding the use of hydrochloric acid, zinc acid brightener, and sodium cyanide at the facility.
Earlier this year, both Cal/OSHA and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued alerts related to a series of accidental asphyxiation of painters and others who used methylene chloride paint removers.
Paint Shop, Other Violations
Cal/OSHA inspectors also said that the paint shop and powder coating areas lacked properly identified fire extinguishers and that sprinklers in the spraying operation were not maintained.
The citations also alleged:
• Water leaks leading to mold in the facility;
• Empty first-aid kits;
• Untrained lift truck operators;
• Lack of required OSHA illness and injury logs;
• Broken, unstocked and dirty toilets;
• Obstructed eyewash and shower stations;
• Electrical hazards, including rusted, deteriorated and exposed components; and
• Oxygen cylinders stored “directly next to” acetylene cylinders.