Conn. Manufacturer Faces Fines for Safety Hazards

April 8, 2005

A wide cross-section of safety and health hazards at a Stafford Springs, Connecticut manufacturing plant has resulted in a total of $104,000 in fines from the U.S. Labor Department’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).

CUNO Inc., which makes water filters, was cited for a total of 51 alleged serious and other than serious violations of the Occupational Safety and Health Act. The citations and fines resulted from an inspection conducted under an OSHA program that focuses on worksites that have a higher than average number of workdays lost due to on-the-job injuries and illnesses.

OSHA’s inspection reportedly identified dozens of instances of unguarded moving machine parts; electrical hazards including ungrounded equipment and exposed live electrical parts; lack of eye and face protection; unstable stacking of material; blocked aisles; wet floors; deficiencies in the plant’s respirator, hearing conservation, confined space entry and hazard communication programs; and failure to properly maintain the illness and injury log, including not recording all reportable injuries.

The inspection also found hazardous concentrations of combustible and explosive dust and fibers present on machinery and electrical equipment. In addition, untrained employees were allowed to extinguish a fire in a curing oven without adequate firefighting education, training or equipment, a condition that exposed the workers to the hazards of smoke inhalation and first, second and third degree burns.

“These conditions are a matter of serious concern,” said Thomas Guilmartin, OSHA’s Hartford area director. “Left uncorrected, they expose workers to, among other hazards, fires, explosions, falls, hearing loss, burns, toxic chemicals, electrocution, eye injuries, lacerations, amputations and being struck by a fork truck.”

A serious violation is a condition where there is a substantial possibility that death or serious physical harm can result to an employee.

CUNO Inc. has 15 business days from receipt of its citations and proposed penalties to either elect to comply with them, request and participate in an informal conference with the OSHA area director, or contest them before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

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