Georgia-Pacific Chemicals LLC has been accused of serious chemical safety violations at its plant in Columbus, Ohio.
The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) inspected the facility in July 2014 and found that the company failed to implement proper chemical management procedures. As a result, workers were exposed to dangerous chemicals, such as formaldehyde, and other potential health and safety hazards.
The Atlanta-based company was this week accused of 11 serious violations at the Columbus plant, with penalties totaling $60,500. It has 15 business days to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA's area director, or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.
An OSHA violation is classed as serious if death or serious physical harm could result from a hazard an employer knew or should have known existed.
"Chemical manufacturing can be catastrophic if proper safeguards are not in place, and Georgia-Pacific Chemicals failed to meet that responsibility," commented Deborah Zubaty, OSHA's area director in Columbus. "Exposure to formaldehyde can have serious health consequences. Workers should not be put at risk because this company failed to implement required procedures."
According to OSHA, Georgia-Pacific Chemicals' standard operating procedures did not contain accurate information on safety systems and how they worked.
The agency said that the company's process hazard analysis, an evaluation used to identify potential hazards associated with the processing of highly hazardous chemicals, failed to address many issues at the plant. In addition, employees were not trained in changes to these processes, and inspections and equipment testing were not completed as scheduled.
Georgia-Pacific Chemicals, a subsidiary of Georgia-Pacific LLC, produces a diverse range of products used in the building, oil and gas, mining, paper and packaging industries.