OSHA cites North Arlington, NJ, chair manufacturer for exposing workers to safety and health hazards, including combustible dust

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration has cited Sterling Seating Inc. for 34 workplace health and safety violations at its North Arlington facility, including exposing workers to combustible dust hazards. Proposed penalties total $117,600.

“Combustible dust, with its fine particulate composition, has the ability to create an explosive atmosphere and rapidly engulf a facility in fire,” said Lisa Levy, director of OSHA’s Hasbrouck Heights Area Office. “The accumulations of combustible dust must be removed, and a program must be put in place to prevent any potential build up from occurring.”

OSHA initiated an inspection on Oct. 13, 2010, in response to a complaint alleging the hazards.

In addition to the combustible dust hazards, among 32 serious violations cited are failing to provide a lockout/tagout system to control the release of hazardous energy, ensure exits were unblocked, protect employees from electrical and chemical hazards, provide proper machine guarding, provide respiratory protection, and monitor formaldehyde and methylene chlorine exposure. Citations carry a penalty of $116,900. A serious violation occurs when there is substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result from a hazard about which the employer knew or should have known.

Two other-than-serious violations were cited for failing to record injury and illnesses on the OSHA 300 log and to provide workers with information on respirator limitations. The citation for the record-keeping violation carries a $700 penalty. An other-than-serious violation is one that has a direct relationship to job safety and health, but probably would not cause death or serious physical harm.

For more information on combustible dust, visit http://www.osha.gov/dsg/combustibledust/index.html.

Sterling Seating, a manufacturer of commercial seating and restaurant furniture, has 15 business days from receipt of the citations to comply, ask for an informal conference with OSHA’s area director or contest the citations and proposed penalties before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission. The investigation was conducted by OSHA’s Hasbrouck Heights office; telephone 201-288-1700. To report workplace incidents, fatalities or situations posing imminent danger to workers, call the agency’s toll-free hotline at 800-321-OSHA (6742).

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