Updated: OSHA cites, fines Guardian West plant
Updated 10:05 p.m. Wednesday.
URBANA — Flex-N-Gate's Guardian West plant in Urbana has been cited with six new serious safety violations, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration announced Wednesday.
The violations contend the company failed to protect workers from exposure to hazardous materials and failed to provide adequate emergency response plans and training at the bumper-manufacturing plant.
Proposed fines total $41,200.
Flex-N-Gate has 15 business days from receipt of the citation and penalties to comply, request an informal conference with the agency's area director or contest the findings before an independent review commission.
Jim Woodcock, a spokesman for the company's public relations firm in St. Louis, said, "We are just learning of these citations, and we look forward to providing detailed responses to each of these unproven allegations from OSHA in the weeks ahead."
Woodcock said Guardian West considers safety and health protection essential and will work promptly with regulators to address "any legitimate concerns."
The new citation stems from an inspection that was initiated in July 2012 after OSHA received a complaint alleging workers were being exposed to high levels of hydrochloric acid following a release of the acid during refilling operations.
In announcing the citation, OSHA Area Director Tom Bielema noted the company has been previously cited. In May 2012, the Urbana plant was cited for six serious violations, and in December 2010, an inspection resulted in two serious violations.
"Manufacturers such as Guardian West, which are the subject of repeat complaint inspections, need to demonstrate a commitment to properly training and protecting workers from exposure to hazards," Bielema said in a release.
The new citation pertains to an incident on July 18, 2012, when hydrochloric acid was transferred into a bulk chemical storage tank that contained sulfuric acid.
That produced a chemical reaction that exposed a manager to released acid, according to the citations.
OSHA alleges that the employee wasn't wearing chemical-resistant or protective clothing and that the employee didn't have appropriate eye, face and hand protection.
That resulted in three violations with collective proposed penalties of $20,200.
That same day, employees responding to the chemical release disconnected a trunk line from a tanker truck carrying hydrochloric acid.
OSHA claims Flex-N-Gate failed to include evacuation routes and procedures in the emergency response and contingency plan.
The agency also claimed that the company:
— Failed to ensure that workers responding to inhalation hazards were provided with breathing apparatus for respiratory protection.
— Failed to ensure and certify that those workers were trained on adequate emergency response.
That resulted in three more violations with collective proposed penalties of $21,000.
A serious violation occurs when there is substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result from a hazard about which the employer should have known.
Urbana-based Flex-N-Gate employs more than 12,450 people at 50 manufacturing plants and nine product development and engineering facilities in the United States, Canada, Mexico, Argentina, Brazil and Spain.