OSHA proposes US$25,000 in penalties for IHOP restaurant in South Charleston, West Virginia, after nine employees sent to hospital following exposure to chlorine gas
SOUTH CHARLESTON, West Virginia
May 7, 2012
– The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration has cited Country Road 3054 Inc., doing business as IHOP Restaurants, for five alleged serious safety and health violations at its South Charleston establishment. OSHA opened an inspection in February after nine employees were sent to the hospital as the result of being exposed to chlorine gas, which occurred when incompatible chemicals were mixed together. Proposed penalties total $25,000.
OSHA cited the company for hazards involving chemical exposure including the failure to conduct a personal protective equipment hazard assessment; develop and implement a hazard communication program; and provide required training, eye protection, eye wash facilities and material safety data sheets for chemicals used in the workplace. A serious violation occurs when there is substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result from a hazard about which the employer knew or should have known.
"Because chemicals have the ability to react when exposed to other chemicals or certain physical conditions, it is vital that employers take the appropriate steps to protect workers from all related hazards," said Prentice Cline, director of OSHA's Charleston Area Office. "OSHA's standards, when followed, offer these necessary safeguards."
To better protect workers from hazardous chemicals, OSHA has revised its Hazard Communication Standard, aligning it with the United Nations' global chemical labeling system. The new standard, once implemented, will prevent an estimated 43 deaths and result in an estimated $475.2 million in enhanced productivity for U.S. businesses each year. The final rule revising the standard can be viewed at http://s.dol.gov/P1.
Seventy-four workers are employed at the South Charleston IHOP.
The company has 15 business days from receipt of the citations to comply, ask for an informal conference with OSHA's area director or contest the citations and proposed penalties before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.
To ask questions, obtain compliance assistance, file a complaint or report workplace hospitalizations, fatalities or situations posing imminent danger to workers, the public should call OSHA's toll-free hotline at 800-321-OSHA (6742) or the agency's Charleston office at 304-347-5937.
Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their employees. OSHA's role is to ensure these conditions for America's working men and women by setting and enforcing standards, and providing training, education and assistance. For more information, visit http://www.osha.gov.