Region 4 News Release: USDOL: 02-119
Thurs., June 13, 2002
Contact: Jo Anne Burgoyne
Phone: (404) 562-2076
OSHA Cites Atlanta-area Concrete Company for Overexposing
Workers to Silica Dust and Noise; Proposes $44,100 in Penalties
ATLANTA -- Exposing employees to unsafe silica dust and noise levels at two Atlanta-area facilities may cost Thomas Concrete of Georgia, Inc., $44,100 in proposed penalties the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration announced today.
Both inspections were conducted under the agency's program to reduce worker exposure to silica dust, a major cause of silicosis. OSHA's first inspection at the company's Lithonia plant began Dec. 11 and the second Dec. 12 at the Suwanee facility.
"There is no cure for this debilitating lung disease, but it is preventable," said Gei Thae Breezley, OSHA's Atlanta-East area director. "Each year over 2 million workers nationwide are exposed to airborne silica dust, and 250 workers die from silicosis."
The Lithonia concrete mixing and delivery plant received seven serious citations with proposed penalties totaling $23,850, according to citations the agency issued Mon., June 10. OSHA cited the company for failing to lower employee exposure to airborne silica by providing proper respirators, medical evaluations and engineering controls; exposing employees to unhealthy noise levels and electrical hazards; failing to evaluate confined space hazards and provide required protection before allowing workers to enter those areas.
The Suwanne facility was cited for five similar but not identical conditions with $20,250 in proposed penalties. OSHA defines a serious violation as one where there is substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result and that the employer knew or should have known of the hazard.
The company is cooperating with OSHA to control employee overexposure at these facilities and any of its other facilities where similar conditions may exist.
For employers who want to learn more about protecting employees from hazards associated with exposure to silica OSHA maintains a silica advisor page available through its web site www.osha.gov. In addition, each area office has a compliance assistant specialist --- separate and distinct from the enforcement program --- to aid employers in providing a safe and healthful workplace.
The company as 15 working days to contest the citations and proposed penalties before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission. The two inspections were conducted by OSHA's Atlanta-East area office located at LaVista Perimeter Office Park, Bldg 7, Suite 110, Tucker, Ga.; phone: (770) 493-6644.