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Houston-area plastics manufacturer cited by OSHA

All too often, industrial workers in Texas are exposed to the unsafe handling of chemicals on the job. Although the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration has many regulations in place when it comes to hazardous materials in the workplace, many employers sadly ignore these policies.

In an example of this, a Baytown, Texas, plastics manufacturer was recently cited by OSHA for several safety violations involving the suspected carcinogen methylenedianiline, or MDA. Bayer MaterialScience LLC, which uses MDA in the manufacturing of raw materials that go into plastics, was cited with four violations following an OSHA inspection that began in January following a complaint.

Officials from OSHA's Houston South Area Office cited the company with three serious violations and one wilful violation. The wilful violation, which OSHA defines as being committed with intentional, knowing or voluntary disregard for the law’s requirements, or with plain indifference to worker safety and health, was for failing properly regulate the areas where workers' skin could be exposed to MDA and failing to implement a means of alerting workers when a MDA release had taken place.

The four serious violations, which OSHA defines as carrying a substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result from a hazard about which the employer knew or should have known, involve a lack of proper emergency response to an MDA leak, failing to provide workers with proper protection from MDA and failing to have a program in place that checks for MDA spills.

MDA can cause many serious reactions when workers are exposed through skin absorbtion, inhalation or ingestion. Workers who suffer short-term over-exposure face symptoms including fever, chills, loss of appetite, vomiting and/or jaundice. However, safety officials believe long-term overexposure can lead to cancer, damage to the liver, kidneys, blood and spleen.

As you can see, this is an extremely dangerous substance that must be handled with the utmost caution in workplaces. Luckily, a complaint was raised and OSHA was able to conduct an investigation, hopefully, before workers were put in serious risk.

Source: Pasadena Citizen, "Baytown plant fined $89,000 for safety violations," July 18, 2013

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