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OSHA Finds Safety Failures at Wilmington Fiber Manufacturer

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Wilmington, DE – OSHA has proposed $86,800 in fines against Franklin Fibre-Lamitex Corporation, a manufacturer of industrial plastics. These fines stem from a dozen safety violations that officials say exposed workers to fire hazards, electrical shock and possible amputation.

The violations were recorded during repeat inspections of the company’s plant in Wilmington, DE. The most serious citation accuses Franklin Fibre of knowingly allowing combustible dust to accumulate on rafters, walls, floors and machinery. Inspectors said the plant specifically failed to operate a properly functioning dust-collection system or provide employees with flame-retardant clothing.

“People hear the word ‘dust’ and they don’t think ‘deadly’ – but under the right circumstances, a combustible dust explosion can level a building,” said Erin G. Patterson, director of OSHA’s Wilmington Area Office, said in a statement. “The machines at this facility generated the kind of dust that can cause a fatal, destructive explosion,” he said. “It’s critical that Franklin Fibre remove this hazard before a tragic incident occurs.”

Inspectors also cited the company for numerous electrical hazards – including exposed wires and dangling, ungrounded junction boxes – as well as operating lathes and table saws without the proper guards, and failing to adequately train some employees on how to use fire extinguishers or identify hazardous chemical labels.

OSHA reports that Franklin Fibre “is implementing interim abatement measure to address the combustible dust hazards until … a new dust collection system is installed” and that all other hazards identified in the citations have been abated by the company, she said.

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