U.S. Minerals facility cited with 30 safety violations, more than $110,000 in penalties

RP news wires

The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration has cited Dyer, Ind.-based U.S. Minerals LLC with 30 safety violations for exposing workers to multiple safety and health hazards at the company's facility in Harvey. Proposed penalties total $110,400.

"This is not the first time this company has jeopardized the safety of its employees," said Dorinda Folse, OSHA's area director in Baton Rouge, La. "OSHA's safety and health standards must be followed to prevent injuries and accidents."

OSHA's Baton Rouge Area Office began its inspection June 8 at the company's facility on Peters Road, where some workers were repairing a bagging machine that was not locked out in a manner to prevent exposure to potentially hazardous energies, and other workers were filling large bags with processed coal slag without protective eye wear.

Twenty serious violations were found, including failing to protect employees from hazardous noise levels that could cause hearing damage, enforce the use of seat belts for employees operating fork lifts, provide training on the use of fork lifts, enforce the use of safety glasses for eye protection and provide machine guarding where employees could be caught by chains or pulleys. A serious violation is one in which there is substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result from a hazard about which the employer knew or should have known.

Eight repeat violations were cited for failing to provide adequate lockout-tagout training and develop machine specific lockout-tagout procedures, protect workers from exposed electrical hazards, protect propane tanks from damage, develop and implement a confined space entry program and inform workers of the hazards of entering a confined space. 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.

Two other-than-serious violations were cited for failing to provide sanitary washing facilities and warm or hot water in lavatories. An other-than-serious violation is one that has a direct relationship to job safety and health, but probably would not cause death or serious physical harm.

U.S. Minerals, a privately held company that manufactures abrasive blasting and roofing materials, employs about 60 workers and operates two plants in Illinois as well as one in Galveston, Texas, in addition to the one in Harvey, La. In September, OSHA fined the company's Baldwin, Ill., facility $466,400 and cited 35 health and safety violations for willfully exposing its workers to dangerously high levels of hazardous dust and failing to provide adequate breathing protection. As a result of the Baldwin inspection, which took place on March 11, OSHA opened inspections of additional U.S. Minerals facilities in Coffeen, Ill., Galveston and this one in Harvey.

Additionally, OSHA cited the Baldwin facility in October 2007 for 14 serious and three other-than-serious violations with penalties totaling $15,150.

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

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