OSHA cites East Liverpool company for toxic exposure incident

OSHA has proposed penalties of $62,370

EAST LIVERPOOL, Ohio (WKBN) – The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration has cited Heritage Thermal Services, a commercial hazardous waste incinerator facility in East Liverpool, for a toxic exposure incident.

OSHA began an investigation after a 56-year-old service technician was sent to the hospital for toxic exposure to aniline in August.

OSHA cited Heritage Thermal Services for four repeat and one serious safety violation. It says the citations were issued because the company failed to:

  • Monitor work areas and evaluate the effectiveness of respirators,
  • Implement a decontamination procedure,
  • And, provide adequate personal protective equipment and ensure it was used by employees.

In 2012, three other workers at Heritage became ill after unsafe aniline exposure and were hospitalized. Exposure to aniline can cause headache, weakness, confusion, skin lesions and cancer, according to a news release from OHSA.

“This man suffered needlessly because Heritage Thermal again failed to provide adequate personal protective equipment to its workers tasked with toxic chemical disposal,” said Howard Eberts, OSHA’s area director in Cleveland. “Employers must provide respiratory protection, protective clothing, adequate ventilation and ensure their employees are trained in the procedures to minimize exposure to toxins in the workplace.”

OSHA said the technician has about 20 years of experience and was pumping several different hazardous wastes from drums into an outdoor kiln for incineration when he was exposed.

OSHA has proposed penalties of $62,370. The citations can be viewed here.

Heritage Thermal Services has 15 business days from receipt of its citations and penalties to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA’s area director in Cleveland, or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

The company released a statement Wednesday on the findings. It said the employee involved was treated and released and reported to work the following day.

“HTS is fully committed to the safety of our neighbors and our employees. We continually strive to improve all aspects of our health and safety performance with the ultimate goals of zero incidents. Employee involvement and ownership is a core value of our safety culture, which includes operating procedures, stop work authority, process reviews, personnel protective equipment and ongoing training,” the statement read.

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