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Matt Dunning

Manufacturer accused of exposing Kansas workers to flammable chemicals

February 5, 2014 - 11:36am


The U.S. subsidiary of a Britain-based plastic packaging film manufacturer faces more than $100,000 in fines for allegedly exposing workers to flammable chemicals at its Tecumseh, Kan., plant, according to the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

OSHA investigators cited Atlanta-based Innovia Films Inc. for 19 serious violations of federal safety regulations following a July 2013 inspection of the Tecumseh plant, the agency said Tuesday in a statement.

Seventeen citations relate to the company’s alleged failure to properly manage workers’ on-site exposure to hazardous and potentially combustible chemicals used in its manufacturing process, including carbon disulfide, tetrahydrofuran and toluene.

Specifically, OSHA inspectors allege that Innovia Films failed to complete a process hazard analysis, draft and implement mechanical integrity procedures and provide workers with safety training.

The company was also cited for allegedly failing to reduce fall hazards and provide workers with personal protective equipment.

Innovia Films faces up to $112,500 in fines.

“Process safety management programs are designed to prevent the catastrophic release of highly hazardous chemicals,” Judy Freeman, OSHA’s area director in Wichita, Kan., said in the statement. “The (Tecumseh) plant needs to ensure all equipment and new installations receive the proper evaluation and scrutiny before utilizing highly hazardous chemicals in the manufacturing process.”

Approximately 185 workers are employed at the Tecumseh plant. The company’s Wigton, England-based corporate parent, Innovia Films Ltd., employs a total of 1,350 workers worldwide.

Innovia Films primarily manufactures polypropylene and cellulose film used in packaging, labels and tobacco wrapping, according to the company’s website.

“We at Innovia Films consider the health and safety of our employees at work to be of the greatest importance,” a spokesman for the company said in an email to Business Insurance. “Further, we are committed to continual improvements in safety performance and to compliance with all our legal obligations. We have cooperated fully with the OSHA audit and are already in the process of implementing a series of improvements. We will continue to work closely with OSHA to assure our remediation efforts comply with applicable regulations.”