Georgia plating company fined $300,000 for exposing workers to hazardous chemicals

RP news wires
Tags: workplace safety

The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration is proposing $300,400 in penalties against Aerospace/Defense Coatings of Georgia Inc. in Macon, Ga., for 19 health violations.

OSHA began its inspection in May after receiving a complaint concerning personal protective equipment and the handling, storing and disposing of chemicals. Inspections were conducted at all three Aerospace/Defense Coatings of Georgia plants and followed up on violations from 2005 and 2008.

The company is being cited with four alleged willful violations with a proposed penalty of $224,000. The violations are associated with respirator protection, chromium (VI) overexposure, personal protective equipment and failing to perform periodic monitoring of chromium (VI) exposure. The agency defines a willful violation as one committed with intentional knowing or voluntary disregard for the law's requirements, or with plain indifference to worker safety and health.

The citations also include eight alleged repeat violations with a proposed penalty of $50,400. The violations are related to hazardous waste, emergency response, written programs, personal protective equipment for acids, failing to provide employee information and training, and respirator training and storage. A repeat violation is issued 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.

Also, there are seven alleged serious violations with a proposed penalty of $26,000. The violations include failing to train employees to respond to hazardous waste emergencies, failing to post the results of chromium (VI) levels that were above the permissible exposure limit in an accessible location, failing to establish a regulated area where employees' exposure to airborne concentrations was in excess of the permissible exposure limit, failing to provide a change area to prevent cross-contamination, failing to ensure surfaces contaminated with chemicals were cleaned, failing to institute a medical surveillance program, and not providing information and training for employees exposed to chromium (VI). A serious citation is issued 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.

"The employer had ample information alerting him to the hazards posed by hexavalent chromium, yet allowed his employees to continue to be exposed," said Bill Fulcher, director of OSHA's Atlanta-East Area Office. "OSHA will not tolerate this type of inaction."

The company has 15 business days from receipt of the citations and proposed penalties to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA's area director or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.


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