A Massachusetts-based electrical company faces $119,000 in penalties for exposing workers at an Ohio plant to confined space, machine, and other hazards, OSHA said.

The agency fined Schneider Electric for 11 serious violations at its Oxford, Ohio production facility.

OSHA said inspectors found that “machine operators and maintenance employees entered powder-coating ovens routinely without testing atmospheric conditions or securing natural gas lines and operating machine parts.”

Schneider Electric “exposed these workers to dangerous asphyxiation hazards and the potential for serious injuries or worse,” OSHA said.

The company faces proposed penalties of $119,757.

OSHA said inspectors determined Schneider Electric exposed workers to many safety and health hazards by failing to designate the ovens as permit-required confined spaces that mandate workers to take specific safety steps before entering.

Lockout/Tagout

The employer also failed to isolate natural gas lines and mechanical energy—a process known as lockout/tagout—to the ovens during maintenance procedures. OSHA said.

If proper safety measures aren’t taken, gases or vapors inside a confined space can overcome workers, or a lack of oxygen can suffocate them, OSHA said, citing the 1,030 confined space-related workers deaths in the U.S. from 2011 to 2018.

Schneider manufacturers large busways used for power distribution.

“Confined spaces often expose workers to atmospheric and mechanical hazards,” OSHA’s Cincinnati Area Director Ken Montgomery said.

“OSHA has specific regulations for implementing required training and safety procedures to protect workers who must enter confined spaces, including atmospheric testing and ensuring equipment and energy sources are disabled before workers enter these spaces.”

Violations

OSHA inspectors also found the company:

  • Lacked an adequate respiratory protection program—including fit training and medical surveillance—for employees required to wear respirators when working with dust collectors
  • Failed to train employees on the hazards of the powder coat used on products
  • Allowed epoxy powder coat to accumulate on surfaces, exposing workers to methylimidazole, which can irritate the eyes, lungs, and skin
  • Exposed employees working on top of ovens to fall hazards of up to 20 feet by failing to provide fall protection
  • Failed to provide employees with adequate training on safety safety and health hazards

Schneider Electric United States is based in Andover, Mass., and employs more than 150,000 workers nationwide, including 250 at the Ohio facility.

Schneider Electric can correct any violations it does not contest and notify OSHA of the corrections.

The company may also pay any penalties it does not contest, but can request an informal conference with an OSHA inspector to present any evidence it feels would support an adjustment to the citation or penalty.


For more information, contact CBIA’s Phillip Montgomery (860.244.1982).