OSHA proposes $449,680 fine for Fontarome Chemical

Fontarome Chemical Inc., a flavor, fragrance and pharmaceutical ingredient manufacturer that had operated in St. Francis, has been cited for 23 safety and health violations—including seven willful, one repeat and 15 serious—by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration. The company has been placed in OSHA’s Severe Violator Enforcement Program, and the citations carry proposed penalties of $449,680, the U.S. Department of Labor announced Wednesday.

“It is clear that Fontarome Chemical continued to fail in its obligation to create a safe working environment for employees managing highly hazardous chemicals,” said Chris Zortman, OSHA’s area director in Milwaukee. “OSHA is committed to ensuring conditions are improved at the plant and that all cited safety violations have been corrected by the current company management.”

OSHA said it initiated an inspection in December 2013 after the company failed to fix hazards following an April 2012 fire at the St. Francis facility, which uses the chemical thionyl chloride. Exposure to thionyl chloride can cause serious eye, skin and respiratory issues, according to OSHA.

Since OSHA initiated the inspection, the company has been sold. Fontarome entered receivership in January. It remained operational during the three months it was in receivership, and none of its 40 employees were laid off. SFM Investments LLC acquired the assets of Fontarome and its wholly owned French subsidiary, FCI SAS, out of chapter 128 receivership in April. The name of the company was changed to Apiscent Labs.

“Fontarome Chemical no longer exists,” Apiscent spokeswoman Kimberly Kane said. “(The OSHA citations) has nothing to do with Apiscent.”

But an OSHA spokesman said Apiscent would have to pay the fines levied against Fontarome.

“The new company would assume liability for this,” said OSHA spokesman Scott Allen.

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