Worker exposure to methylene chloride, a potential cause of cancer, has landed UCB Manufacturing in hot water with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. And the drugmaker's Rochester, NY, plant may be in for more than $350,000 in fines.
It appears to be another case of regulatory muscle-flexing, with OSHA using its inspection findings to put the pharma industry on notice that safety compliance is no less important that manufacturing compliance. "The sizable fines reflect the gravity of these hazards and the employer's knowledge of and failure to correct them," says an OSHA director.
Agents found that there were neither controls nor practices to reduce employee exposure levels to the colorless liquid. Nor did they find appropriate respirators or the required monitoring and surveillance gear. Common means of exposure are inhalation and skin contact. OSHA tallied six "willful citations: those committed with plain indifference to or intentional disregard for worker safety and health."
The company has 15 business days from citation receipt to comply, meet with OSHA, or contest the findings.