SPRINGFIELD, Mo. -- A total of 18 workers were hospitalized after exposure to deadly carbon monoxide gas levels of up to 6.71 times the permissible limit, U.S. Department of Labor Occupational Safety and Health Administration inspectors found.
OSHA investigators determined that JRI Holdings Inc. employees in November 2014 were testing a commercial industrial parts washer powered by two natural gas heaters. Employees were working inside a building with its doors closed because of cold temperatures, which limited ventilation.
JRI Holdings was cited by OSHA for one willful and three serious safety violations for failing to provide respiratory protection, monitoring and to ventilate the work site adequately. Proposed penalties total $70,700. 'Carbon monoxide is a silent killer because it's odorless, tasteless and invisible,' said Barbara Theriot, OSHA's area director in Kansas City, Missouri. 'Overexposure can cause headaches, vomiting and death. Companies using heaters and other products that produce this deadly gas must make sure spaces are well-ventilated and that workers use protective equipment and monitor for exposure.'
Blood samples indicated that workers were exposed to high levels of carbon monoxide on the job site, resulting in a willful violation.
OSHA inspectors also cited JRI Holdings for one serious safety violation for exposing workers to fall hazards because open-sided platforms lacked guardrails. The company also failed to determine if hazardous conditions existed and to provide personal protective equipment.
The Springfield-based company manufactures industrial parts for washers. The company has 15 business days from receipt of its citations to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA's area director in Kansas City, or contest the findings 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 Kansas City Area Office at 816-483-9531.
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.