EAST LIVERPOOL - Heritage-WTI, which operates a hazardous waste incinerator in the East End of the city, has been fined by the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration for violations that led to three employees being injured in March.
In a Sept. 9 letter to the company, area Director Howard B. Eberts outlined five violations in one citation considered "serious," stemming from an incident March 13 that sent three workers to the hospital.
In that incident the three men, who have never been identified by the company, reportedly became faint while working with a solid hazardous waste.
They were wearing protective equipment that included respiratory protection, it was reported at the time.
The men were reportedly working with aniline, a chemical used in a variety of ways, including blue jean dye, polyurethane and medications.
They were taken to East Liverpool City Hospital and released.
Eberts' letter indicated the citation resulted from inspections between March 14 and Sept. 7, resulting in five violations, with the company fined $6,300 for each and given until Sunday to abate the violation.
The first item noted that on or before March 13 the company required at least three employees to perform work while wearing DuPont Tychem SL saranex suits, noting that the suits failed to provide adequate protection from chemicals being handled, including aniline, toluene and others.
The citation noted the company did not select appropriate personal protective equipment and did not ensure that affected employees used personal protective equipment that would adequately protect them from the chemicals being handled.
Specifically, it was noted the employees were required to perform work wearing 3M Full Facepiece Respirators and Stanzoil neoprene gloves, neither of which provided adequate protection against the chemicals being handled.
The inadequate protection was "evidenced by higher than normal methemoglobin levels found for each of the three employees," according to Eberts.
Finally, it was noted the company failed to ensure that appropriate surveillance was maintained of work area conditions and the degree of employee exposure or stress to assess the effectiveness of the respirators being worn.
Heritage-WTI spokesman Raymond Wayne said Tuesday the company cooperated fully with OSHA during the investigation and, apart from that agency's investigation, independently evaluated the incident and implemented a number of "process enhancements" to "make our robust safety program even stronger."
He said employees have been trained in the enhancements.
After meeting recently with OSHA, a compromise was reached, reducing the proposed $31,500 fine to $17,010, Wayne said.
"We are committed to the well being in the work place and strive to continuously improve our safety program. Among the program's many components are operation procedures, process reviews, personnel protective equipment and ongoing training," he added.
In August, it was reported the company had been fined more than $150,000 for a series of violations, including one deemed "willful," and numerous deemed "serious."
The earlier violations stemmed from a December safety inspection conducted after an employee was killed while manually separating the contents of 55-gallon drums containing metal wastes and residue.
In that incident, Thomas Bailey, 52, of Glenmoor, died when two explosions occurred, causing a flash fire. His was the first employee death at the facility.
Another man was injured in the same incident.