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Respirator Protection Violation Among Citations Given Georgia Companies

OSHA has cited Thompson Plastics Inc., of Georgia, with 11 health and safety violations and proposed fines of more than $162,000.

Violations include failure to periodically inspect lockout/tagout procedures, which are designed to prevent machines from starting up unexpectedly. According to the OSHA press release, the company also failed to adequately address fall hazards and the dangers of high-decibel noise in the workplace. 38746_oxygen.jpg

“Thomson Plastics previously was cited for some of the same violations found during this recent inspection and is aware of what needs to be done to protect its workers,” said Bill Fulcher, director of OSHA’s Atlanta-East Area Office.

The Occupational Safety & Health Administration considers in particularly egregious when a company is cited for a repeat violation, and with good reason: Atlanta workers’ compensation attorneys understand that employees are often injured in the workplace by known hazards, or as a result of lax safety standards that could have been easily corrected.

A Hartwell, Georgia company, Tenneco Automotive Operation Co. Inc,, was also cited last week for 16 health and safety violations, carrying a proposed total of nearly $80,000 in fines. Among the violations were improper hazardous material handling, trip and fall hazards, and failure to provide adequate rules for respirator usage.

In this case, the chemical in question was hexavalent chromium, exposure to which OSHA reports may result in an increased risk for the development of lung cancer.

Hexavalent chromium compounds can irritate the lungs, nose and throat. Damage to the eyes and skin have also been noted.

An estimated 5 million workers wear respirators in more than a million workplaces in the United States. Breathing protection helps protect workers against harmful dusts, smoke, fogs, mists, gases, vapors and sprays. In many cases, unprotected or prolonged exposure may result in various cancers, lung diseases and death. OSHA estimates full compliance across all industries could avert hundreds of deaths and thousands of workplace injuries each year.

OSHA’s General Industry Rules (29 CFR 1910) outline protection requirements, as well as requirements for fitting, seal checks and cleaning. Special rules exist in shipyards, marine terminals, longshoring and construction. Employers must also address airborne hazards through other effective workplace controls (such as exhaust fans). Respirators may not be used to alleviate an employer’s obligation to reduce airborne contaminants below acceptable occupational exposure levels whenever possible.

Common side-effects that may result in exposure include:

-Lung damage
-Central nervous system damage
-Cancer
-Cardiovascular damage
-Sudden death
OSHA reports new fit and training requirements instituted by the agency in 1998 reduced exposure risks in the workplace by 27 percent — preventing an estimated 4,000 workplace illnesses and injuries and about 1,000 deaths each year. Employees who are at-risk have the right to a workplace that is in compliance when it comes to state and federal respirator requirements.

For workers’ compensation help in Georgia, contact J. Franklin Burns, P.C., to speak with an experienced attorney. For a free consultation call 1-404-303-7770 today.