Glass company owned by gun company owner cited by OSHA for ‘severe’ safety, environmental violations

sjones@thesunnews.comOctober 25, 2013 

— A glass recycling company that some Horry County officials are touting as a potential new employer has received at least 66 citations since 2009 for workplace safety and health violations at its plants in Yuma, Ariz., and Upper Sandusky, Ohio.

The company, Dlubak Glass Co., was put on the Severe Violators Enforcement Program of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration last year because of “willful and repeat violations and the nature of the hazards,” according to information from the U.S. Department of Labor.

In addition, the company was cited in 2006 for a workplace accident that resulted in the death of a worker at its Ohio plant, and was sued in Ohio federal court four years earlier for a workplace injury that apparently happened when an employee got her hand caught in a piece of machinery, according to online records at OSHA and the federal court system.

The lawsuit was settled, but the details of the settlement were not included in online records of it.

The company’s Arizona plant was further cited by the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality in 2009 and ordered to cleanup lead contaminated soil and to lower levels of lead dust on the floor of the plant to the allowable 5 milligrams per liter.

The state had found 280 mg/L of lead dust inside the plant in a 2009 inspection and substantially higher levels in the soil outside the plant, according to a state report.

OSHA citations for both Dlubak locations were issued primarily because of the company’s failure to see that its employees were protected from lead dust.

“Lead exposure can cause damage to the nervous system, kidneys, blood-forming organs and reproductive system if inhaled or ingested in dangerous quantities,” the labor department wrote in a news release about the 2012 violations at the company’s Ohio plant. “A willful violation is one committed with intentional, knowing or voluntary disregard for the law’s requirement, or plain indifference to employee safety and health.”

Horry County Council Chairman Mark Lazarus said that a Dlubak-owned glass recycling company will occupy half of a 20,000-square-foot building at the Cool Springs Business Park. The other half will be home to a manufacturing facility for Ithaca Gun Co.

David Dlubak, who owns Dlubak Glass Co., is also a principal owner of Ithaca Gun Co. He could not be reached for comment.

Brad Lofton, CEO of the Myrtle Beach Economic Development Corp., and Fred Richardson, MBREDC’s board chairman, said that the agency had done its due diligence on Ithaca Gun Co. but had not yet looked into Dlubak Glass Co.

The Horry County Council is in the process of negotiating incentives for Ithaca Gun Co. to locate at Cool Springs, and neither Lofton nor Richardson saw any reason to be concerned about the gun company because of workplace safety and health violations at two of the glass recycling business’s six plants.

Lazarus said he knew that the company had been cited and fined for some OSHA violations, but added that the company had paid the fines. He said bringing up the violations about the glass company amounted to a witchhunt. Horry County needs the jobs the company will reportedly bring to Horry County and anything that might discourage that, could threaten those jobs, he said.

Besides, Lazarus said, practically any company the size of Dlubak Glass or larger would have similar situations in its record.

“How many times has . . . Santee Cooper been fined by OSHA?” he asked.

According to OSHA records, Santee Cooper was cited for one violation that included three citations between 2009 and 2012. The violation involved the death of an employee who touched a transmission line that was cut off from a power source but that still had some electricity left in it from when the power had been disconnected, according to OSHA records.

The company was cited for not ensuring that the employee, who was working in a cherry picker at the time of the accident, was wearing rubber gloves.

Santee Cooper spokeswoman Mollie Gore said company regulations required workers to put on rubber gloves before touching power lines. She said the company had given the employee two sets of rubber gloves, but that he was wearing leather gloves when he grabbed the wire.

The employee death at Dlubak Glass’s Ohio plant occurred when a 500-pound pile of bags fell on a worker, who died from a punctured lung.

Dlubak Glass was cited in the incident for failure to secure the bags, as required, to ensure they wouldn’t fall on anyone.

Richardson, Lazarus and Horry County Councilman Gary Loftus said they saw no reason why problems at one of Dlubak’s companies should reflect on the other.

“They might have the same owner, but they’re different operations,” Loftus said of the two companies.

Among other things related to lead violations, OSHA cited the Dlubak Glass plants in Arizona and Ohio for allowing lead dust to migrate into areas other than production areas. It said illegal levels of lead dust accumulated not only on floors, but on tables in break rooms where employees ate meals.

OSHA also criticized the company for having workers clean floors by sweeping lead dust rather than vacuuming it to guard against particles becoming airborne from sweeping.

The Arizona DEQ also noted the floor-sweeping in its 2009 inspection of the plant in Yuma.

“ADEQ compliance officers observed a thin film of gray dust on the floor throughout the facility,” its Hazardous Waste Inspection Report said.

Officers in that inspection also saw the ground was gray around outside areas where crushed glass was stored. The state had warned the company in a 2008 that it needed to “ensure to continue to properly contain glass debris.”

But crushed glass that contained lead was stored in areas without roofing and in cardboard boxes that wouldn’t secure it from leaching lead, the report said.

The state ordered the company to clean the soil that had been contaminated, an order the company first said it couldn’t meet because it couldn’t afford to pay an environmental specialist to do the work, said Mark Shaffer, ADEQ communications director.

He said the area of contamination was “pretty extensive.” He said a very large mound of crushed glass was among that which was outside the plant.

“We called it Mount Crushmore,” he said.

Shaffer said the company did ultimately clean up the ground.

In addition to the inspections in 2009 and 2008, the report said that ADEQ issued the company a Notice of Violation in 2003 for factors that included the treatment, storage or disposal of hazardous waste without a permit.

Lofton, Richardson and Loftus noted that the County Council is now considering incentives just for Ithaca Gun Co. and that the glass operation will be scrutinized closely when council members think about any agreement with Dlubak Glass.

Lazarus said he believed the glass company’s violations could be “a matter of how things were written up” and didn’t necessarily mean the citations reflected what was really happening, he said.

“If we go on the negative against them,” Lazarus said, “it’s certainly going to turn people off.”

Contact STEVE JONES at 444-1765.

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