OSHA Cites Company For Exposing Employees to Hazardous Chemicals

Nov. 22, 2004
OSHA has cited Terminix Commercial, of Pennsauken, N.J., for failing to protect workers from hazards involving methyl bromide exposure.

Terminix Commercial provides exterminating and pest control services, employing 26 workers in Southern New Jersey.

"Strong enforcement is a key part of this administration's efforts to reduce workplace injuries and illnesses," said U.S. Secretary of Labor Elaine L. Chao. "The significant penalty of $119,250 in this case demonstrates our commitment to protecting the health and safety and American workers."

OSHA initiated its investigation on May 14, in response to an incident reported by the company in which four employees were admitted to the hospital exhibiting symptoms consistent with methyl bromide exposure. The day before, the workers had removed tarps from stacks of cocoa bean pallets that were fumigated with methyl bromide.

OSHA has issued citations to Terminix Commercial for two alleged willful violations of health standards, with a penalty of $99,000; four alleged serious violations, with a penalty of $16,650; and three alleged other-than-serious violations, with a penalty of $3,600.

The willful citations address the employer's failure to provide appropriate respiratory protection; failure to evaluate workplace hazards; and failure to provide training on the hazards associated with methyl bromide. The serious citations include employees' exposure to fall hazards; use of forklifts to lift employees; lack of forklift training and lack of eye and face protection. Other-than-serious citations were issued for recordkeeping and hazard communication deficiencies.

Willful violations are those committed with an intentional disregard or plain indifference to the requirements of the Occupational Safety and Health Act. A serious citation is issued when death or serious physical harm could result from a hazard about which the employer knew or should have known.

The company has 15 working days to contest the citations and proposed penalties before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

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