Workers at Allied Powder Coating Exposed to Numerous Safety Hazards

by | Jul 2, 2024 | Chemical Injury, Safety, Work Injury, Workplace Accident, Workplace Explosion, Workplace Injuries, Workplace Safety

A recent federal inspection at Outdoor Furniture Refinishing Inc., also known as Allied Powder Coating, in Houston has uncovered over 40 safety hazards, posing severe safety hazards and health risks to employees. From exposure to toxic chemicals and inadequate protective measures to improperly maintained equipment, the findings paint a grim picture of the working conditions, highlighting a critical need for stringent safety protocols and enforcement to protect the employees.

In the article below, the workplace injury attorneys at Kherkher Garcia provide an overview of the safety hazards identified at Allied Powder Coating. Next, we will explore the hazards of working in metal refinishing, and provide information for workers on what they can do to protect their rights if they are working in an unsafe environment.

Allied Powder Coating Fined for Serious Safety Hazards

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) initiated the investigation in December 2023, revealing significant safety violations that could lead to birth defects, respiratory disorders, cardiovascular disease, and cancer.

The OSHA inspectors identified 39 serious violations and five other violations during their inspection. Key issues included the company’s failure to implement required safety controls for exposure to hazardous substances such as triglycidyl isocyanurate, arsenic, cadmium, beryllium, and lead. The company was also found to lack adequate protection against inhalation hazards, fail to provide proper respirators, and insufficiently manage the handling of hazardous substances.

Additional violations encompassed the absence of engineering controls for noise, poor maintenance of electrical equipment, and the failure to establish regulated areas for dangerous chemicals.

In light of these findings, Outdoor Furniture Refinishing Inc. faces $338,094 in proposed penalties. The company has 15 business days to either comply with the regulations or contest the findings. This inspection underscores the critical health risks associated with unsafe exposure to toxic chemicals and highlights the necessity for stringent workplace safety measures.

OSHA Area Director Larissa Ipsen emphasized the importance of employers’ responsibility in ensuring workplace safety,

“Outdoor Furniture Refinishing Inc. has a legal responsibility to ensure its employees have a safe work environment and must do better at understanding the hazards that exist in the work they do,” Ipsen was quoted in Click2Houston. “Employers are required to know all dangers present in their workplace and develop procedures, provide safety equipment, and train employees to ensure workers are protected from immediate and long-term hazards.”

What are the Hazards of Working in a Metal Refinishing Facility?

Working in a metal refinishing facility can expose employees to a variety of hazards. These include:

Chemical Hazards

Workers may come into contact with dangerous chemicals such as:

  • Lead
  • Arsenic
  • Cadmium
  • Beryllium
  • Triglycidyl isocyanurate Prolonged exposure to these substances can lead to severe health issues including cancer, respiratory disorders, cardiovascular diseases, and birth defects.

Refinishing processes often produce hazardous fumes and dust that can cause lung damage, respiratory problems, and other health complications.

Physical Hazards

  • Noise Exposure: High levels of noise from machinery and equipment can lead to hearing loss or impairment if proper protective measures are not taken.
  • Ergonomic Strain: Repetitive motions, awkward postures, and heavy lifting can cause musculoskeletal disorders and other ergonomic injuries.

Mechanical Hazards

  • Machinery Accidents: The use of heavy machinery and tools can result in cuts, amputations, and other serious injuries if not handled properly or if proper safeguards are not in place.
  • Electrical Hazards: Poorly maintained electrical equipment can cause electric shocks, burns, and even fatalities.

Fire and Explosion Hazards

  • Flammable Materials: Many chemicals used in metal refinishing are flammable, posing risks of fire and explosions if not stored and handled correctly.
  • Combustible Dust: Accumulation of fine dust particles can create explosion hazards if not properly controlled.

Environmental Hazards

  • Improper Waste Disposal: Incorrect disposal of hazardous chemicals and materials can lead to environmental contamination, affecting both the facility and the surrounding community.

Health Hazards

  • Skin Contact: Direct contact with chemicals can cause skin irritation, burns, and dermatitis.
  • Eye Injuries: Exposure to chemicals, flying particles, or splashes can result in eye injuries or blindness.

Preventive Measures

To mitigate these hazards, metal refinishing facilities should implement comprehensive safety programs that include:

  • Proper training and use of personal protective equipment (PPE)
  • Regular maintenance and inspection of equipment
  • Effective ventilation and dust control systems
  • Emergency response plans and first aid training
  • Routine health monitoring and medical check-ups for employees

By addressing these hazards proactively, facilities can ensure a safer working environment for their employees.

What are Worker Rights in Texas if They are Working in an Unsafe Environment?

Workers in Texas have specific rights under federal and state laws to ensure their safety and health in the workplace. If they are working in an unsafe environment, they are entitled to the following rights:

 A Safe Workplace

  • OSHA Protections: Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are required to provide a workplace free from recognized hazards that could cause death or serious physical harm.
  • Hazard Communication: Employers must inform workers about hazardous chemicals in their workplace through training, labels, alarms, color-coded systems, chemical information sheets, and other methods.

Information and Training

  • Safety Training: Workers have the right to receive training in a language and vocabulary they can understand about hazards, methods to prevent harm, and OSHA standards that apply to their workplace.
  • Access to Records: Workers can request access to their own medical records and records of exposure to toxic substances or harmful physical agents.

Report Hazards

  • Filing Complaints: Workers have the right to file a confidential complaint with OSHA to have their workplace inspected if they believe there is a serious hazard or that their employer is not following OSHA standards.
  • Protection from Retaliation: It is illegal for an employer to retaliate against workers for exercising their rights under the law. This includes reporting injuries, raising health and safety concerns, or filing an OSHA complaint.

Participate in OSHA Inspections

  • Participation Rights: Workers have the right to speak with the inspector privately during an OSHA inspection and point out hazards in their workplace.
  • Accompaniment by a Representative: Workers can choose a representative to accompany the OSHA inspector during the inspection.

Refuse Dangerous Work

  • Imminent Danger: Workers have the right to refuse to perform a task if they believe it poses an imminent danger of death or serious physical harm. However, they should first request that their employer correct the hazard and can refuse only if the employer fails to do so and there is no reasonable alternative.

Filing Complaints and Seeking Assistance

  • Texas Department of Insurance, Division of Workers’ Compensation: This state agency can assist workers with issues related to workplace safety and workers’ compensation.
  • Legal Action: Workers may have the right to file lawsuits if they suffer harm due to their employer’s negligence or if their employer retaliates against them for reporting unsafe conditions.

Workers’ Compensation

  • Reporting Injuries: Workers injured on the job have the right to report their injury and file a claim for workers’ compensation benefits.
  • Medical Treatment: Workers are entitled to receive necessary medical treatment for work-related injuries or illnesses.

Union and Collective Bargaining Rights

  • Collective Bargaining: If workers are part of a union, they have additional rights through collective bargaining agreements that may include specific safety and health provisions.

Steps Workers Can Take

Workers who are injured due to an unsafe work environment can take the following steps to begin protecting their legal rights and wellbeing:

  • Report Hazards to Employer: First, notify your supervisor or employer about the hazard and request that it be fixed.
  • File a Complaint with OSHA: If the employer does not address the hazard, workers can file a complaint with OSHA.
  • Contact Local OSHA Office: Seek guidance and support from the nearest OSHA office for assistance.
  • Seek Legal Advice: Consult with an attorney specializing in labor law if you face retaliation or if your rights are violated.

Workers in Texas should be aware of these rights and take appropriate actions to ensure their safety and wellbeing in the workplace.

How Kherkher Garcia Can Help Protect Your Rights

Contacting Kherkher Garcia can be a crucial step for workers seeking to protect their rights and ensure a safe working environment. As experienced attorneys specializing in labor and employment law, our team offers comprehensive legal support to workers facing unsafe conditions and employer negligence.

Our attorneys can guide employees through the complexities of filing complaints with OSHA, assist in reporting violations, and provide representation in cases of retaliation. By leveraging our expertise, we help workers navigate legal challenges, secure fair compensation for injuries, and advocate for safer workplace practices.

At Kherkher Garcia, we empower workers. Contact us if you need help standing up for your rights, promoting accountability or recovering compensation after an injury. Get a free workplace injury consultation by calling us at 713-333-1030, or by completing our online contact form.

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Steve Kherkher

Steve Kherkher

Founding Partner and Trial Lawyer

This article was written and reviewed by Injury Trial Lawyer and Founding Firm Partner Steve Kherkher. Steve has been a practicing injury lawyer for more than 30 years. He has won $300 Million+ in Settlements and Verdicts for his clients. He is a force to be reckoned with in the courtroom and the trial lawyer you want on your side if you or a loved one have been catastrophically injured.

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