CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo. (AP) — A southeastern Missouri manufacturer of petroleum storage tanks should pay $148,500 in fines for alleged safety violations, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration said Thursday.
OSHA cited Mid-South Steel Products Inc. with three willful, 10 serious and one other-than-serious violations after a routine inspection of the company's Cape Girardeau plant.
Regulators claimed the company failed to adequately protect workers from falls, didn't maintain employee respirators or train employees on their use, and lacked safety procedures for employees working in enclosed spaces.
Inspectors also said the company unsafely stacked steel tanks, didn't protect pressurized tanks from falling, exposed employees to significant amounts of toluene gas, didn't prevent workers from smoking in a spray room and other violations.
Company president Sonny Underwood said Mid-South will request an informal hearing to get more information about the alleged violations. But he said he was perplexed why the fine was so high.
''We've never had an accident, and this isn't tied to any accident or other incident,'' Underwood said. He added that when he told a third-party company that inspects Mid-South for OSHA compliance about the fine, the company asked him how many employees had been killed.
''We don't understand it at all.''
Rich Kulczewski, an OSHA spokesman, said the routine inspection was aimed at reducing possible fall risks, respiratory protection and confined space hazards. He said the company's problem-free past and how it responds to the alleged violations could be considered in possibly reducing the level of the fines.