U.S. Minerals Plant Cited for Repeat Safety Violations

Noria news wires

U.S. Minerals LLC was recently cited for six safety violations by the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) for failing to provide fall protection, personal protective equipment and to implement procedures to control hazardous energy. The company faces $195,470 in penalties after an inspection found repeat violations at its facility in Baldwin, Ill.

"U.S. Minerals continues to expose workers to hazards associated with energy-control procedures, including willfully violating lockout and tagout procedures and exposing workers to amputation hazards," said Thomas Bielema, OSHA's area director in Peoria, Ill. "U.S. Minerals repeatedly has been cited at this facility and others for failing to protect workers from these hazards. OSHA is committed to ensuring employers abide by the law, which requires common-sense safety practices that U.S. Minerals must follow."

Two willful violations were cited during the most recent inspection. One was for failing to have guards on standard railings, which exposed workers to fall hazards of up to 40 feet. The second was for the company's failure to ensure that lockout/tagout procedures were applied to prevent the unexpected start-up of equipment while employees performed service and maintenance.

Three repeat violations were cited for not conducting an annual inspection of energy-control procedures; not ensuring that each authorized employee affixed a lockout device to energy-isolating devices prior to performing service and maintenance; and for failing to develop, document and utilize procedures for servicing equipment where more than one employee was performing tasks.

Additionally, one serious violation was issued for failing to provide personal protective equipment that would prevent falls by employees working on top of equipment.

Following an inspection in June 2010, OSHA issued a $466,400 penalty to the company's Baldwin facility in September of that year, citing 35 health and safety violations for willfully exposing workers to dangerously high levels of hazardous dust and failing to provide adequate breathing protection.

As a result of the conditions found at the Baldwin plant, OSHA initiated inspections of the company's three other facilities. At the company's location in Coffeen, Ill., OSHA issued 28 health and safety citations in December 2010. In November 2010, the company's operation in Harvey, La., was cited for 30 violations, while its facility in Galveston, Texas, was cited for 38 violations.

U.S. Minerals was placed in OSHA's Severe Violator Enforcement Program in December 2010. The program focuses on employers with a history of safety violations that endanger workers by demonstrating indifference to their responsibilities under the law. This enforcement tool includes mandatory OSHA follow-up inspections and inspections of other work sites of the same employer where similar hazards and deficiencies may be present.

With headquarters in Dyer, Ind., U.S. Minerals manufactures abrasive blasting and roofing materials from slag produced at coal-fired power plants. The company has 15 business days from receipt of its citations and 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.

For more information, visit www.osha.gov.

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