Employees injured by acid cleanup may cost Cooper Power Systems thousands
By Anthony Capkun
April 29, 2014 – Following injuries to seven workers at Cooper Power Systems LLC—including chemical burns to the skin and irritation to respiratory tracts requiring urgent medical treatment—the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) cited the company for six violations, including two willful violations.
The workers were injured after exposure to an acid mixture while cleaning a spill that occurred at a South Milwaukee facility in October 2013. About 15 to 20 gallons of phosphoric/sulphuric acid were released from an overpressurized hose at the facility, which manufactures electrical power delivery products.
Following the cleanup, the employees started to experience symptoms of exposure to acid, including shortness of breath, headache, skin irritation and burns. The respiratory distress required urgent medical care.
OSHA’s investigation found that employees were directed to perform cleanup operations, despite the company’s written policy to bring in qualified outside services for this type of work.
The company was, therefore, cited for failing to provide workers with required protective equipment to prevent exposure, and failure to provide required training in hazardous material cleanup procedures. The citations carry proposed penalties of $166,000.
OSHA has cited two willful violations for directing employees to respond to an acid spill without conducting a hazard evaluation, lack of personal protective equipment and failing to train workers in emergency response procedures.
Cooper Power Systems was also cited for four serious safety violations. The company is a division of Eaton’s Electrical Sector, which produces a range of power delivery products.