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NY Manufacturer Faces $200K in OSHA Fines Over Combustible Dust

The company actually experienced a significant fire in its production area after failing to address previously identified fire hazards.

Federal workplace safety and health inspectors have cited a Queensbury, NY manufacturer for exposing employees to uncorrected explosion hazards, as well as recurring fire and fall hazards.

The Albany Area Office of the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration opened a follow-up inspection on Jan. 13, 2016, after RWS Manufacturing Inc. failed to verify it corrected violations cited during a previous OSHA inspection. Agency inspectors found that the company, who processes wood shavings for animal beds, failed to address combustible dust hazards involving the dust collection system it had agreed to correct.

Inspectors also identified new and recurring hazards stemming from RWS Manufacturing's failure to:

  • Address combustible dust related fire and explosion hazards for conveyor equipment and an inoperable spark detection/fire suppression system.
  • Inspect fire extinguishers annually, and maintain them in fully charged and operable condition.
  • Remove accumulations of combustible wood dust and shavings on rafters and other surfaces.
  • Remove piles of wood dust and shavings on floors that create fire, slip, trip, and fall hazards.

"RWS Manufacturing has disregarded its employees' safety in failing to correct an obvious fire and explosion hazard and in allowing the existence of new and recurring hazards," said Robert Garvey, OSHA's area director in Albany. "Especially disturbing is the fact that, since OSHA's last inspection, a significant fire occurred in the plant's production area in December 2015. For the safety and well-being of its employees RWS Manufacturing must take immediate, comprehensive and effective action to correct these hazards once and for all."

As the result of the follow-up inspection, OSHA has issued RWS Manufacturing citations for failure to abate previously cited violations, two repeat violations, and three serious violations. The company faces proposed penalties totaling $197,820 for these violations. The citations can be viewed here.

RWS Manufacturing has 15 business days from receipt of its citations and proposed penalties to comply, request a conference with OSHA's area director or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

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