Wednesday, February 13, 2013

OSHA fines Grede Wisconsin $274k for exposing workers to dangerous respirable dust

The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration has cited Grede Wisconsin Subsidiaries LLC for 28—including three repeat—health violations under the national and regional emphasis program on primary metal industries for exposing workers to crystalline silica dust and other hazards at the Browntown iron foundry following an August 2012 inspection. Proposed penalties total $274,500.

"Grede Wisconsin Subsidiaries is compromising the safety of its workers by allowing previously cited deficiencies to continue," said Kim Stille, OSHA's area director in Madison. "Employers who are cited for repeat violations demonstrate a lack of commitment to workers' well-being. OSHA is committed to protecting workers on the job."

The three repeat violations are for exposing workers to respirable dust containing silica above the recommended exposure level, unguarded conveyor tail pulleys and failing to apply energy isolating devices to equipment during service and maintenance. A repeat violation exists when an employer previously has been cited for the same or a similar violation of a standard, regulation, rule or order at any other facility in federal enforcement states within the last five years. Similar violations were cited in 2010 following an inspection at the company's Berlin plant and in 2009 at the Browntown plant.

A total of 24 serious violations include OSHA's confined space permit regulations; excessive accumulation of sand and dust; unguarded railings; failing to provide adequate personal protective equipment for eyes, hands, and face to protect against metal splash hazards; provide hazardous energy control procedures; provide employees effective information and training on hazardous chemicals in their work area; and provide employee representatives with access to exposure records within a reasonable time frame. Several violations were cited regarding respiratory protection, including a lack of medical evaluations, fit testing and training. A serious violation occurs when there is substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result from a hazard about which the employer knew or should have known.

One other violation was issued for not allowing OSHA representatives prompt access to employee exposure records. 

OSHA has placed Grede Wisconsin Subsidiaries in its Severe Violator Enforcement Program, which focuses on recalcitrant employers that endanger workers by committing willful, repeat or failure-to-abate violations. Under the program, OSHA may inspect any of the employer's facilities or job sites.

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