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Respirator violations can cause occupational injuries

After an explosion at a drilling technology company in another state in August, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration launched an investigation. Although investigators are still trying to determine the cause of the explosion, the federal agency has identified several safety violations that that could potentially have caused occupational injuries to workers. The company produces lubricants, shale inhibitors and sealants for the oil industry and has locations in several states, including Colorado.

OSHA issued multiple citations related to the company's safety protocol for respirators to protect workers. According to OSHA, not all workers can use respirators, and a doctor's written recommendation is required before a worker may use a respirator. Furthermore, each employee's respirator must be tested for a proper fit when tight-fitting respirators are used. Moreover, each respirator must be fit-tested on the worker it is allocated to at least once a year.

Both these regulations were reportedly violated. OSHA also reported that the manufacturers had discontinued the particular respirators in use at the company. The manufacturer's website contains a warning for companies that are using the products to ensure compliance with OSHA regulations. Lastly, investigators found that not all of the company's products had the required safety data sheets written in English.

Colorado workers who suffer adverse effects or occupational injuries from using improper respirators may suffer long-term consequences. By filing benefits claims with the workers' compensation insurance program, financial relief may be pursued. The benefits awarded typically include compensation for wages lost due to work absences along with coverage of any medical expenses related to the injuries.

Source: yourhoustonnews.com, "No. 9: DrillChem explodes, under investigation by county and OSHA", Stephen Green, Dec. 22, 2015

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