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OSHA Fines MT Tank Maker $75K

Monday, January 7, 2013

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Spray area and confined-space hazards, improper resin storage and a variety of other dangers have led to a dozen federal safety citations and a $75,600 fine against a Montana tank maker.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has cited Fiberglass Structures Inc. for 11 serious violations and one repeat violation for alleged hazards discovered during an August inspection at its plant in Laurel, MT.

L.F. Manufacturing

Tank and vessel maker Fiberglass Structures, a subsidiary of L.F. Manufacturing, is facing 12 OSHA violations and $75,600 in fines.

A subsidiary of Texas-based L.F. Manufacturing, Fiberglass Structures makes molded composite and fiberglass reinforced plastic products. The company fabricates large storage tanks and processing vessels, corrosion-resistant piping, and a line of resins for aggresive environments.

Violations 'Unacceptable' 

The repeat violation, carrying a fine of $12,600, accuses the company of not containing energized wires with covers in a flammable area.

A repeat violation exists when an employer has been cited for the same or a similar violation within five years. OSHA cited a similar violation at the company's Waycross, GA, facility in 2009.

“Something is seriously wrong when an employer repeatedly disregards specific safety standards required to protect workers from serious injuries or death,” said Jeff Funke, director of OSHA’s area office in Billings, MT.

“Neglecting the safety of workers is simply unacceptable."

Serious Violations

Inspectors found 11 serious violations, carrying a $63,000 penalty.

Those citations accuse the company of:

  • Storing an organic peroxide catalyst in a combustible fiberglass structure, several feet from incompatible flammable resin, or next to a flammable liquid outside of a storage structure;
  • Applying flammable and combustible liquids in spraying areas that contained electrical equipment, overhead lights with exposed bulbs, and overhead radiant gas heaters with exposed piping and hot surfaces;
  • Using power cords as permanent power and leaving them strewn among containers of flammable liquids;
  • Not requiring skin protection for workers using chopped fiberglass and hazardous chemicals;
  • Not requiring eye protection or an eye wash station for workers spraying resin solution and organic peroxide catalyst;
  • Not testing the atmosphere before sending employees to work inside tanks;
  • Inadequate confined-space training, systems and emergency rescue resources; and
  • Exposing employees to air embolisms while using compressed air nozzles with approximately 86 psi to clean floors and blow dust and debris off their clothes and skin.
Fiberglass Structures Inc.

An official of L.F. Manufacturing questioned why the alleged violations were found in August but the company wasn't notified until December.

Citations are 'Ludicrous'

Fiberglass Structures did not respond to a request for comment.

However, an official with parent company L.F. Manufacturing questioned the findings and the timeliness of OSHA's report, according to The Laurel Outlook.

Bernard Ofczarzak, regulatory compliance manager, called the violations “ludicrous,” saying, “That’s not how this company operates, and that’s not how FSI operates.”

Ofczarzak said the management teams were committed to providing a safe and healthy work environment.

“Two of our three Texas plants are within OSHA’s SHARP program, which is where we are actually exempt from OSHA inspection because of stellar safety records,” said Ofczarzak.

SHARP, the Safety and Health Achievement Recognition Program, recognizes employers who operate an exemplary injury and illness prevention program.

Ofczarzak also questioned why the company was not notified until December of violations allegedly uncovered in August.

OSHA's records show no other citations issued against either Fiberglass Structures or L.F. Manufacturing. The records also confirm L.F. Manufacturing's SHARP status.

The company has 15 business days from receipt of the citations and penalties to comply, request an informal conference, or contest the findings.


Tagged categories: Confined space; Fiberglass; Health and safety; OSHA; Personal protective equipment; Resins; Spray systems; Tanks

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