OSHA cites Fontarome Chemical after fire

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration has cited Fontarome Chemical Inc. for 17 serious safety violations following a fire at the company’s pharmaceutical manufacturing facility in St. Francis on April 13.

The fire occurred during the troubleshooting of an electrical component on the hot oil heater. OSHA initiated an inspection under its national emphasis program on process safety management for covered chemical facilities. Proposed fines total $51,800.

“Employers must provide safe working conditions, especially for employees who work with highly hazardous chemicals,” said George Yoksas, OSHA’s area director in Milwaukee. “It is clear that Fontarome Chemical failed to create safety procedures, much less train employees or review procedures to ensure their effectiveness, as is necessary for these kinds of operations.”

Twelve violations cited relate to process safety management, including failing to address hazards related to potential engineering and administrative control failures, implement written operating procedures, review and certify operating procedures annually, train workers on the procedures, develop emergency procedures for the shutdown of process equipment or to address deviations from normal operating limits, validate management of change procedures, conduct a compliance audit at least every three years and respond to deficiencies found in compliance audits.

Five other violations involve failing to develop machine-specific procedures for locking and tagging out energy sources, perform periodic inspections of machinery, guard machines, require workers to wear insulating gloves and fire-retardant clothing when working on energized circuits, and conduct an arc flash hazard analysis. 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.
Fontarome Chemical manufactures ingredients for pharmaceuticals and the flavor and fragrance industries. The inspection was OSHA’s third of the St. Francis facility, which previously had been cited for a total of 22 violations.

The company has 15 business days from receipt of the citations and proposed penalties to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA’s area office or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

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