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OSHA cites Cooper for combustible dust hazards

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The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has cited Cooper Tire and Rubber Co. and two of its maintenance contractors with 25 safety violations at the company's Tupelo, Miss., plant.

OSHA said workers at the plant were exposed to hazards associated with combustible dust. Proposed penalties total $254,900.

OSHA opened a December 2010 inspection in Tupelo following one of the company's Findlay, Ohio, plant that uncovered multiple workplace hazards and resulted in proposed penalties of $213,500.

Two willful violations with proposed penalties of $140,000 include failing to provide protection from fires and explosions in the plant's ductwork, particle size separators, dust collectors and conveyor systems; and failing to install equipment and use wiring methods that were approved specifically for hazardous locations. A willful violation is one committed with intentional knowing or voluntary disregard for the law's requirements, or with plain indifference to worker safety and health.

JESCO Maintenance Corp., a maintenance contractor at the plant, was cited with eight serious violations for failing to protect the dust collection and conveying system plus other various violations. IH Services, another maintenance contractor, was cited for one serious violation with a $7,000 penalty for installing equipment and using wiring methods in hazardous locations that were not approved.

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