OSHA began the investigation after learning that eight employees had been admitted to several local hospitals after being contaminated with an unknown powder that turned out to be para-nitroaniline (PNA), a poison that causes methemoglobinemia, resulting in the reduction of the blood''s ability to transport oxygen, the story stated.
Deputy Assistant Secretary of Labor for OSHA Donald G. Shalhoub said: "There are means available to safely handle deadly chemicals such as this, and those means were ignored. Those who ignore safe practices and OSHA regulations are inviting tragedy into the lives of their employees and their families, and this cannot be tolerated."
As a result of its investigation, OSHA issued 21 willful citations relating to eight instances of failing to provide employees with the correct personal protective equipment (PPE) for transferring PNA; four instances of failing to provide training on the use of PPE and on working with hazardous chemicals; three instances of failing to provide PPE training and training on specific PNA-transfer procedures; and five instances of failing to fit-test employees using respirators, the story noted.
According to the story, OSHA also issued a repeat citation for failing to provide an eyewash/shower in corrosive chemicals areas, and an additional 16 serious citations for hazards associated with the transfer of PNA and other workplace practices.
G.S. Robins & Co. has 15 business days from receipt of the citations to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA''s area director or contest the citations and proposed penalties before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission (OSHRC), the story added.