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Unguarded machinery, inadequate hearing protection, lead overexposures and a steam explosion hazard at a
OSHA found that employees exposed to high noise levels were not provided an audiometric testing program and audiograms to measure possible hearing loss, and that saw blades and abrasive grinders were not guarded against employee contact. These conditions resulted in the issuance of three willful citations, which account for $99,000 of the total fines. OSHA defines a willful violation as one committed with an intentional disregard of, or plain indifference to, the requirements of the Occupational Safety and Health Act and regulations.
The company was also issued 28 serious citations, with $45,250 in fines for various health and safety hazards. A serious citation is issued when death or serious physical harm are likely to result from a hazard about which the employer knew or should have known.
Serious health hazards included employee overexposure to lead and the absence of work practices, engineering controls, respirators, a clean changing room, showers, medical surveillance, employee training and other required safeguards; a deficient hazard communication program; lack of hearing and eye protection; and no hearing conservation training.
Safety hazards included an obstructed exit route; lack of a program, procedures, equipment and employee training to prevent the accidental startup of machinery during maintenance; unguarded sanders, belts and pulleys; uninspected lifting hooks and slings; no fire extinguisher training; an unmaintained sprinkler system; and electrical hazards.
Chief among the safety hazards was a potential steam explosion hazard in the plant’s furnace and mold form areas that had a wet fire sprinkler system. Metal in these areas can be heated as high as 2100 degrees. If water from the sprinklers came in contact with the molten metal, the resulting pressure and steam could generate an explosive reaction.
The company was also issued two other-than-serious citations and fined $500 for failing to inform employees about available medical records and for failing to post the required summary of occupational injuries and illnesses.