An Illinois pallet manufacturer whose employees were sickened with carbon monoxide poisoning on the job earlier this year faces more than $216,000 in fines for safety and regulatory lapses that expose its workers to the risk of injury and illness.
The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) cited Cleary Pallet Sales Inc. of Genoa, Illinois, for multiple safety violations after inspecting its facility in January. The inspection was prompted when 10 employees required emergency medical treatment for carbon monoxide exposure, OSHA said. Some of the sickened workers were hospitalized.
OSHA’s inspection of the plant found that workers were exposed to carbon monoxide levels 10 times the permissible exposure limit. The main symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning include headache, nausea, fatigue, drowsiness, and dizziness. Death may result if exposure continues despite these symptoms.
OSHA cited Cleary Pallet for failing to address high carbon monoxide level warnings at the plant. During the inspection, federal officials also found that Cleary Pallet allowed employees to operate defective forklifts and failed to train employees on forklift safety.
The company was also cited for failing to ensure machines at the plant were adequately guarded and failing to train workers on hazardous communications, OSHA said. Another inspection in February uncovered additional machine safety violations at the facility.
“Employers are required to regularly conduct workplace hazard assessments to determine appropriate measures to protect workers’ safety and health,” said OSHA Aurora, Illinois Area Office Director Jake Scott. “This employer risked the health of several workers, and disregarded basic safety standards.”
OSHA cited the company $216,253 for the carbon monoxide dangers, which one local fire chief said may have stemmed from a faulty ventilation system at the facility, according to the Daily Chronicle.