Region 1 News Release: 12-353-BOS/BOS 2012-032
March 2, 2012
Contact: Ted Fitzgerald
US Labor Department's OSHA cites Westinghouse plant in
Newington, NH, for inadequate safeguards against hexavalent chromium
Manufacturing operation faces $82,000 in fines
CONCORD, N.H. – The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration has cited Cranberry, Pa.-based Westinghouse Electric Co. LLC for alleged willful and serious violations of workplace health standards at its Newington stainless steel component manufacturing facility. The company faces a total of $82,000 in proposed fines following an inspection by OSHA's Concord Area Office that was initiated in response to a complaint.
OSHA found that employees performing welding work in the main fabrication area were exposed to airborne concentrations of hexavalent chromium in excess of the permissible exposure limit, and engineering controls or work practices to reduce the exposure levels were not in place. Additionally, employees were wearing respirators even though they had not been medically evaluated to determine if they could safely do so, initial monitoring to determine hexavalent chromium exposure levels had not been conducted, medical surveillance was not made available for all potentially exposed employees, and dry sweeping and brushing, rather than other methods that would minimize the likelihood of exposure, were used to clean work areas. These conditions resulted in citations for five serious violations with $27,000 in proposed fines. A serious violation occurs 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.
Westinghouse also was issued one willful citation with a $55,000 fine for failing to establish a regulated work area around employees exposed, or reasonably expected to be exposed, to excess levels of hexavalent chromium. A willful violation is one committed with intentional knowing or voluntary disregard for the law's requirements, or with plain indifference to worker safety and health.
"Workplace exposure to hexavalent chromium may cause irritation or damage to the eyes and skin upon contact and to the nose, throat and lungs if inhaled. Inhalation could also lead to lung cancer," said Rosemarie Ohar, OSHA's area director in New Hampshire. "That's why it is critically important that employers such as Westinghouse take effective steps to monitor, identify and reduce exposure levels, and other necessary steps to safeguard their employees' health."
Detailed information on hexavalent chromium hazards and safeguards is available at http://www.osha.gov/SLTC/hexavalentchromium/index.html.
Westinghouse has 15 business days from receipt of its citations and proposed penalties to comply, meet with OSHA's area director or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.
To ask questions, obtain compliance assistance, file a complaint, or report workplace hospitalizations, fatalities or situations posing imminent danger to workers, the public should call OSHA's toll-free hotline at 800-321-OSHA (6742) or the agency's Concord office at 603-225-1629.
Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their employees. OSHA's role is to ensure these conditions for America's working men and women by setting and enforcing standards, and providing training, education and assistance. For more information, visit http://www.osha.gov.
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U.S. Department of Labor news materials are accessible at http://www.dol.gov. The information above is available in large print, Braille, audio tape or disc from the COAST office upon request by calling 202-693-7828 or TTY 202-693-7755.