HOUSTON, Texas -- The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration has cited Bayer MaterialScience LLC in Baytown with four safety violations, including one willful, and a proposed penalty of $89,000. The company was cited for failing to protect workers from methylenedianiline, or MDA, during the manufacturing of raw materials that go into producing plastics.
MDA is a light-brown crystalline solid with a faint amino odor that is produced commercially by the condensation of aniline and formaldehyde. MDA exposure can occur through skin absorption, inhalation and ingestion. Short-term overexposure to MDA produces fever, chills, loss of appetite, vomiting and/or jaundice. Long-term overexposure may cause cancer, as well as damage to the liver, kidneys, blood and spleen.
The inspection, which began in January due to a complaint, was conducted by OSHA's Houston South Area Office. The willful violation was cited for failing to establish regulated areas where workers were subject to dermal exposure to MDA and implement a way to promptly alert workers who had the potential to be directly exposed to MDA when a release occurred. A willful violation is one committed with intentional, knowing or voluntary disregard for the law's requirements, or with plain indifference to worker safety and health.
Three serious violations were cited for failing to implement portions of the employer's written emergency plan when the loss of MDA containment occurred; ensure workers used the appropriate work clothing and equipment to prevent contact with MDA; and institute a program to check for spills of liquid and solid MDA. 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.
'It is the employer's responsibility to find and fix workplace hazards proactively before workers are hurt,' said Mark Briggs, OSHA's area director in the Houston South office.
The company has 15 business days from receipt of the citations and penalties to comply, request an informal conference with the area director 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 Houston South Area Office at 281-286-0583 or Houston North Area Office at 281-591-2438.
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.