The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has cited American Stone Fabricators Inc. of Sheridan, Colo., for 13 alleged serious violations of health and safety hazards, and one instance of failing to abate previously cited hazards, including employee overexposure to silica. Proposed penalties total $110,000.

The OSHA inspection, which began Nov. 9, 2005, was a follow-up to an April 2005 inspection that was settled when the employer agreed to provide effective engineering controls to eliminate silica exposures to his employees as well as provide them with proper respiratory protection. OSHA's follow-up inspection resulted in today's issuance of $26,000 in proposed penalties for the 13 serious violations and a penalty of $84,000 for the failure-to-abate violation of the silica overexposures.

"This employer had ample notice and opportunity to eliminate this serious health hazard, yet failed to do so, allowing his employees to be overexposed to respirable silica dust," said John Healy, OSHA area director in Englewood, Colo. "This significant penalty demonstrates OSHA's commitment to assure compliance with job safety and health standards."

Occupational exposures to respirable crystalline silica are associated with the development of silicosis, lung cancer, pulmonary tuberculosis, and airways diseases.

The alleged serious violations address the lack of a respiratory protection program, failure to provide a written hazard communication program and training, open floor holes, lack of eye protection, discharged and uninspected fire extinguishers, unsafe stone slab storage and various electrical hazards. Serious violations occur when there is probability of death or serious physical harm and the employer knew or should have known of the hazard.

American Stone Fabricators Inc. has 15 working days from receipt of the citations to comply with them, request and participate in an informal conference with the OSHA area director, or contest them before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.