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Calif. company accused of overexposing workers to toxic chemical

toxic chemicals

A California medical device manufacturing company is accused of willfully overexposing employees to dangerous levels of ethylene oxide, a toxic chemical associated with cancer development and reproductive health problems.

The California Division of Occupational Safety and Health announced Tuesday it issued $838,800 in penalties against Carson, California-based Parter Medical Products Inc. over claims it failed to protect workers against the dangerous chemical.

The company uses ethylene oxide gas to sterilize medical devices. Its odor is undetectable to humans until its concentration exceeds hazardous levels, according to Cal/OSHA.

The company was cited for failing to have an effective safety plan to evaluate and develop controls for hazards, failing to develop a respiratory protection plan, failing to monitor employee exposure and failing to notify workers of exposure of the chemical over permissible limits.

Cal/OSHA issued 18 citations to the company, including six for willful-serious violations.

The company shut down its Carson facility in early August 2022 after an investigation began into ethylene oxide emissions, and Cal/OSHA subsequently determined that the remediation efforts did not solve the overexposure issue, according to regulators.

During a subsequent inspection in December 2022, Cal/OSHA determined that one employee had been overexposed to the chemical during his entire shift.

Cal/OSHA accused the company of overexposing employees to the chemical above permissible limits from 2019 to 2022.