Workers exposed to dangerous chemicals at CT lab: authorities say

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Phoenix Environmental Laboratories Inc. has been fined more than $900,000 after being charged with exposing workers to a hazardous chemical in Manchester, Conn., federal officials said.

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Workers at a Connecticut environmental lab reported feeling dizzy and unsteady before learning they had been exposed to a dangerous chemical, federal officials said.

The company must now pay around $900,000 in fines.

Phoenix Environmental Laboratories are accused of exposing workers to methylene chloride – “a highly dangerous and carcinogenic chemical in the workplace” – at a laboratory in Manchester, the US Department of Labor said in a press release. of September 16.

The company analyzes soil, water, sludge, solids and air. He did not immediately respond to McClatchy News’ request for comment on Friday, September 16.

Workers filed complaints with management for several months for feeling dizzy, dizzy and unsteady while walking, according to the press release, in addition to faulty ventilation systems.

But the company failed to take effective action to address unsafe working conditions, federal officials said.

Recurring equipment leaks, poor ventilation and the use of methylene chloride in the analysis of environmental samples have exposed employees to the chemical, officials said.

The US Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration cited the company for 17 violations, costing $907,253 in fines.

A federal investigation by OSHA found that Phoenix Environmental Laboratories failed to ensure workers were not overexposed to methylene chloride, and that the lab failed to “perform initial monitoring of the exhibition”.

Investigators also found that the company failed to provide adequate ventilation for employees working around the chemical and did not have procedures in place to detect, contain or dispose of the leaking chemical. officials said.

Additionally, the company is accused of failing to provide employees with adequate skin, eye and face protection from chemicals or other solvents, the statement said.

And other hazards were found in the lab, including “exposure to flammable vapors, improper storage, unsafe handling and transfer of flammable chemicals, lack of proper quick-soak eye facilities where corrosives were used and several electrical violations”.

The company has 15 days to comply, request an informal conference, or challenge OSHA’s findings in front of a health review board.

“Phoenix Environmental Laboratories was aware of its employees’ exposure to a highly hazardous and carcinogenic chemical, but chose to ignore their complaints and failed to take effective corrective action,” the regional manager of the company said. ‘OSHA, Dale Varney in Hartford, Connecticut.

Helena Wegner is a McClatchy Live National Reporter covering Washington State and the Western Region. She holds a journalism degree from the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University. She is based in Phoenix.