Tuesday, August 6, 2013

OSHA fines Spectrum Machine $188,300 for exposing workers to lead hazards

RAVENNA, Ohio – Spectrum Machine Inc. has been cited with 13 health violations, carrying proposed penalties of $188,300, after a January inspection by the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration found workers were exposed to lead and copper fumes above the permissible limits. Three willful violations involve the company's failure to monitor and train workers on lead hazards and develop a hazard communication program.

"Failing to monitor worker exposure to airborne metal particles can result in severe illness," said Howard Eberts, OSHA's area director in Cleveland. "By failing to develop a lead protection and hazard communication program, Spectrum Machine has demonstrated a lack of commitment to employee safety and health."

Spectrum Machine was cited for three willful safety violations for failing to conduct initial monitoring of workers exposed to lead and failing to provide training regarding the potential health hazards and necessary precautions to prevent lead exposure. The company was also cited for failing to develop a hazard communication program. A willful violation is one committed with intentional, knowing or voluntary disregard for the law's requirements, or plain indifference to employee safety and health.

A total of 10 serious safety violations cited include failing to develop a noise monitoring and lockout/tagout program to prevent the unintentional operation of machinery, provide fire extinguisher training and prevent worker exposure to airborne concentrations of both copper fumes and lead in excess of permissible exposure limits.

The other five serious violations involve OSHA's respiratory protection standards. These include failing to develop and implement a written respiratory protection program, train workers on the program, prevent the use of respirators with an inadequate protection factor and ensure the proper wear of respirators. 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.

OSHA has placed Spectrum Machine in its Severe Violator Enforcement Program, which mandates targeted follow-up inspections to ensure compliance with the law. OSHA's SVEP 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 if it has reasonable grounds to believe there are similar violations.

The current citations may be viewed at http://www.osha.gov/ooc/citations/Spectrum_Machine_858103_0731_13.PDF*

Spectrum Machine manufactures industrial bearing parts and operates two facilities in Ohio. It employs about 50 workers. The company was previously cited in 2006 at its Streetboro facility for 13 violations, including allowing worker exposure to lead in excess of the permissible exposure limit.
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