Smart Growth for Vernon, CT
OSHA proposes $114,000 in fines against Amerbelle

By Howard French
Journal Inquirer
Published: Tuesday, March 8, 2011 12:21 PM EST

VERNON — Amerbelle Textiles LLC faces potential U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration fines totaling $114,660 for 59 safety and health code violations, OSHA officials said Monday.

The company has 15 business days to comply or to contest the fines, Paul Mangiafico, OSHA’s area director in Hartford, said.

An Amerbelle official did not return a request for comment today.

According to Mangiafico, 58 of the 59 citations against the company fall under the “serious” category, which are violations of safety regulations where there is “substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result from a hazard about which the employer knew or should have known.”

The serious violations included inadequate machine guards, lack of electrical safety measures, and problems with storage or handling of chemicals.

Left uncorrected these conditions expose employees to the dangers of falls, electrocution, lacerations, amputations, fire, hazardous substances, toxic or oxygen-deficient conditions, crushing, being struck by objects, and being unable to quickly leave the building in an emergency, Mangiafico said.

The single lesser fine of $3,000 was for a repeat violation of a safety code requiring adequate eyewash facilities in the factory’s water treatment area where workers are exposed to corrosive water-treatment chemicals, he said. It is the second time in five years that OSHA has fined Amerbelle for the same violation.

Amerbelle, at 104 E. Main St. in the Rockville section, was founded in 1936. The company dyes, finishes, and coats textiles for other manufacturers who use the finished fabrics in a variety of products.

Amerbelle has had numerous accidents over the years. In 2009 a chemical reaction sent three employees to the hospital and shut down operations for about three hours. The reaction happened when an employee mixed two chemicals used in the dying process, Amerbelle President Alan Eisenberg said at the time.

The employees who inhaled the fumes during the accident were treated with oxygen and released from Rockville General Hospital, Eisenberg said.

The state Department of Environmental Protection then asked the company to review the circumstances leading up to the spill.

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