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Four Workers Hospitalized Following Fire

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Bridgeport, CT (WorkersCompensation.com) - Uretek Archer LLC, a urethane coating and laminate fabric manufacturer in New Haven, has been cited by the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration for alleged serious and repeat violations of workplace safety standards after four workers were hospitalized in August due to a machine fire at the company's Lenox Street facility. The fire triggered an inspection by OSHA's Bridgeport Area Office, which has assessed $74,000 in proposed penalties.

The fire occurred when a flammable solvent used to clean machines ignited. OSHA found that the employer had not taken adequate precautions to eliminate potential ignition sources. Several violations related to the incident involve an inoperable fire alarm system, no assurance that fire precaution procedures were in place, improperly grounded machinery, a lack of hazard inspections, a lack of personal protective equipment for workers, and failing to provide and record adequate fire extinguisher training. Additionally, there were no lockout/tagout procedures in place while workers were cleaning machinery in the facility. OSHA's standard for hazardous energy control, or lockout/tagout, requires that machines be shut down and their power sources locked out to prevent unintended start-up during maintenance and cleaning. The conditions found resulted in the issuance of citations with $14,000 in proposed fines for four serious violations. A serious violation occurs when there is substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result from a hazard about which the employer knew or should have known.

"Uretek Archer must ensure that fire alarm systems are operable, machines are properly grounded and protective equipment is available to all employees, among a host of other potentially lifesaving fire precautions," said Robert Kowalski, OSHA's area director in Bridgeport.

Two repeat violations involve failing to develop, document and use methods of controlling potentially hazardous energy when workers perform maintenance on equipment, as well as conduct annual inspections of energy control procedures. Uretek Archer was cited for similar violations in 2008. A repeat violation exists when an employer previously has been cited for the same or a similar violation of a standard, regulation, rule or order at any other facility in federal enforcement states within the last five years. The citations carry $60,000 in penalties.

Uretek Archer has 15 business days from receipt of its citations and proposed penalties to comply, meet informally with OSHA's area director or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

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