OSHA cited Textile Rubber and Chemical Company Inc. and proposed penalties totaling $201,600.
The company was cited and fined for safety violations found during an investigation which began after an accident injured three workers at its Dalton, Ga., plant.
According to Tom Brown, OSHA's Atlanta-West area director, the accident that spurred the inspection occurred in September 1999 when three employees were overcome by chemical vapor while working inside a waste treatment tank.
The three workers were treated at local hospitals and released.
OSHA's investigation resulted in proposed penalties totaling $189,000 for three willful violations of confined space safety standards.
These included failure to provide auxiliary self-contained respirators in case an employee's line respirator malfunctioned; implement a respirator program to ensure that workers had adequate respiratory protection from inhalation hazards in confined spaces; implement safe entry, working and rescue procedures for confined spaces and provide the necessary equipment for employees to enter and work in confined spaces safely.
One of two additional citations noted that the employer failed to monitor confined spaces to assure that the air inside was safe for entry; did not prepare entry permits outlining measures for protecting employees from confined space hazards, and did not regulate employee entry into the space.
The other serious violation involved the employer's failure to train employees about new confined space hazards that resulted from changes in operations.
"We issue willful citations when there is an intentional disregard for safety requirements," said Brown. "This company knew the serious hazards associated with working in confined spaces but failed to take adequate protective measures. In fact, key management officials at the facility had received extensive and continuing confined space entry safety training since 1992."
Brown added, "The company also ignored requests from employees for equipment they needed to safely enter and work in confined spaces."
Textile Rubber and Chemical employs 190 of its 350 employees at its Dalton, Ga., corporate headquarters and plant.
Latex carpet and rug backings, urethane backings, coatings and other textile specialties are manufactured at the plant.
The company has 15 working days to contest OSHA's citations.