For companies that use flammable liquids on a daily basis, the potential risks to worker health are numerous. While workplace productivity is important, failure by an employer to minimize or prevent exposure to combustible items can lead to federally enforced financial penalties and a potential loss of business.
While the world of screen printing may not appear to be overly fraught with danger, a company in Chicago was recently cited with 28 health and safety violations by a federal agency, which has led to proposed fines of $119,700. The investigation, which was instigated following a complaint filed in November of last year, uncovered a significant level of irresponsible behavior by the employer, much of which could have been avoided with a job hazard analysis.
These included a lack of a written hazard warning program, a failure to train employees in the handling of known hazardous chemicals, a lack of eye protection during equipment welding and a series of electrical wiring issues that constituted a serious danger around or near flammable liquids.
"They failed to implement effective measures during the handling of flammable liquids and associated spray finishing operations," said Diane Turek, area director for the health and safety agency. "Employers have a responsibility to provide a safe and healthful work environment. They must provide personal protective equipment and train workers to take precautions to protect themselves from known hazards in their industry."
With flammable liquids being a well-known hazard, employers can address any overriding concerns through a workplace safety assessment. Continued and effective risk management can then negate the potential for business interruption and ensure federal compliance.