For the third time in six years, the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has found widespread safety and health hazards at the West Hartford, Conn., tool manufacturing plant of Danaher Tool Group, doing business as Holo-Krome Inc. OSHA's most recent inspection, conducted under two national emphasis programs aimed at preventing amputations and overexposure to lead, has resulted in citations for 26 alleged willful, repeat and serious violations of standards. Proposed penalties total $247,600.

The latest inspection began in August. OSHA found safety interlocks on machinery were bypassed or removed, allowing employees to come in contact with moving parts. One worker sustained a hand injury on a machine with a bypassed interlock. OSHA proposed a fine of $70,000 for an alleged willful violation committed with intentional disregard of, or plain indifference to, the requirements of the Occupational Safety and Health Act and regulations.

Eleven repeat citations, accounting for $138,100 in proposed fines, were issued for hazards similar to those cited at the plant in 2004. These included unguarded or inadequately guarded mechanical power presses, grinders and other machinery; no annual reviews of lockout procedures to prevent the accidental startup of machinery; exposed live electrical parts; lack of required hand protection; improper extension of fork trucks; and no warning signs and asbestos awareness training for workers. Repeat citations are issued when an employer has been cited for substantially similar hazards in the past and those citations have become final.

Fourteen serious citations, with $39,500 in proposed fines, were issued for lead accumulation on work surfaces; defective exit access; no controls to reduce excess noise levels; no hearing protection for exposed workers; confined space hazards; unguarded loft and work platforms; inappropriately used electrical cords; no fire extinguisher training; and failure to lock out machinery before performing maintenance. OSHA issues a serious citation when death or serious physical harm is likely to result from a hazard about which the employer knew or should have known.

"Left uncorrected, these conditions continually expose employees to the hazards of laceration, amputation, crushing injuries, hearing loss, fire, electrocution, confined spaces and exposure to toxic substances," said C. William Freeman III, OSHA's area director in Hartford. "The recurrence of hazards at this workplace is disturbing. Failure to supply and ensure these common, legally required safeguards unnecessarily puts employees' lives at risk."

The company has 15 business days from receipt of its citations to request and participate in an informal conference with the OSHA area director or to contest the citations before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission. The investigation was conducted by OSHA's Hartford area office.