Wheelblast Inc. is facing $139,500 in proposed penalties following an inspection by the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). The federal agency uncovered significant safety and health violations at the company's Zephyrhills, Fla., manufacturing plant.

In June, a Wheelblast employee was injured when a flash fire in the paint mixing area resulted in burns to more than 30 percent of his body.

"This company's management placed employees in extreme danger when it ignored numerous warning labels and product safety information for toxic and highly flammable substances," said Les Grove, OSHA's area director in
Tampa. "OSHA will take forceful action when employers ignore their employees' safety."

OSHA has proposed $109,500 in penalties for 12 serious and three willful safety violations, including the transfer of chemicals in an unsafe manner, allowing an accumulation of flammable disposable materials and not adequately preventing the ignition of flammable vapors during the manufacturing process. Employees also were found to be exposed to fall hazards, electrical hazards and amputation hazards.

One serious, one willful and five other-than-serious health violations have been proposed with $30,000 in penalties against the company for allowing employees to work with toxic and flammable chemicals without proper protective equipment and for operating without a written hazard communication program.

Wheelblast Inc. has 15 working days from receipt of the citations to contest them and the proposed penalties before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.