Federal safety inspectors are proposing $171,000 in fines against a Sumitomo Bakelite resin plant in Ohio, saying that the facility has repeatedly violated rules designed to protect workers from chemical exposure and explosion.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration said on May 18 it plans to fine the Kenton, Ohio, resin plant of Sumitomo Bakelite North America Inc. for violations it found after receiving a complaint and opening an investigation in late 2022.
It said it found similar violations in a 2019 inspection. The plant also operates as Durez Corp.
"Durez Corp. knowingly failed to develop and implement safeguards to protect employees from toxic gas releases, explosions from process equipment, and use good housekeeping procedures to protect its employees from potential combustible resin fires," said Todd Jensen, OSHA area director in Toledo, Ohio.
OSHA said the company "did not prevent resin accumulations from exposing control room workers to respiratory and fire hazards."
The proposed fines, which the company has 15 days to contest, include one willful violation for $156,000 for not maintaining positive air pressure in the control room and not ensuring the vent systems turns off automatically in the event of a formaldehyde release.
It also included a $15,000 proposed housekeeping fine for not minimizing combustible materials in the facility, OSHA said.
The company, which makes phenolic and epoxy resins and molding compounds at 20 plants around the world, did not respond to a May 18 request for comment.
OSHA said the high heat used in resin manufacturing increases the risks of flammable vapors igniting.