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OSHA cites flavoring and fragrance firm for worker chemical exposure

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A New Jersey flavoring and fragrance manufacturer has been cited and faces proposed penalties of $122,000 from federal regulators for willfully exposing employees to hazardous chemicals.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration issued two willful citations on Dec. 1 to Branchburg, New Jersey-based Symrise Inc. because of hazards associated with exposure to diacetyl, a chemical linked to respiratory illnesses such as organ damage, according to a news release published by the agency on Thursday.

OSHA also cited the company for 10 serious violations, including confined space hazards, the lack of program procedures related to preventing the sudden startup or movement of equipment during service and maintenance, and exposure to open-sided work platforms without railings, according to the citations.

“When employees are exposed to certain airborne flavorings like diacetyl, they are more likely to develop respiratory symptoms such as cough, fatigue and difficulty breathing with exertion or exercise,” Patricia Jones, director of OSHA’s Avenel, New Jersey office, said in the statement. “Symrise is putting its employees at risk of long-term, chronic illness by not taking the right steps to provide protection from this hazard. Employers have a legal obligation to ensure workers have a safe and healthy workplace and will be held accountable when they fail to do so.”

Symrise’s workers comp insurer is Portland, Maine-based MEMIC, according to OSHA.

The company could not be immediately reached for comment and an insurer spokesman declined immediate comment.