Region1 News Release: BOS 2000-070
Tuesday, May 9, 2000
Contact: Ted Fitzgerald
PHONE: (617) 565-2074
OSHA PROPOSES NEARLY $95,000 IN PENALTIES AGAINST LACONIA, NEW HAMPSHIRE, FOUNDRY AND MACHINE SHOP FOR ALLEGED WILLFUL AND SERIOUS SAFETY & HEALTH VIOLATIONS
The U.S. Labor Department's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has cited Hebert Manufacturing Co., Inc. and Hebert Foundry and Machine, a foundry and machine shop located in Laconia, New Hampshire, for alleged Willful, Serious and Other than Serious violations of the Occupational Safety and Health Act and has proposed penalties totaling $94,250.
According to David May, OSHA area director for New Hampshire, the alleged violations were discovered during safety and health inspections conducted between November 1999 and March 2000 at the facilities, which are located at 113 Fair Street in Laconia.
The citations address a range of health and safety hazards, in particular, the company's failure to take required effective steps to protect workers from hazards posed by overexposure to toxic lead and silica. Other hazards identified in the inspection included violations of OSHA standards governing the locking out of machinery power sources to prevent their accidental startup during maintenance, noise exposure, work in toxic or oxygen-deficient confined spaces, the guarding of moving machine parts and the supply and use of personal protective equipment.
"The inspection found employees in the grinding room and foundry exposed to airborne concentrations of lead in excess of permitted limits and working without protective equipment, protective clothing, separate shower and lunch room facilities or adequate training and required information on lead hazards and the OSHA lead standard," said May. "In addition, engineering and work practice controls to reduce the lead level had not been implemented, a respiratory protection program had not been developed for these workers, respirators were not used, the ventilation system had not been measured for effectiveness in keeping down lead levels and additional exposure monitoring had not been conducted when conditions suggested a change in lead levels."
May explained that lead is a systemic poison which can enter the body through inhalation or ingestion and be absorbed into the lungs, upper respiratory system, stomach and blood system. The effects of overexposure to lead can range from fatigue, sleep disturbance and digestive upset to permanent damage to the kidney, nervous, reproductive and blood systems.
"To counter these dangers, employers are required to monitor lead exposure and to take a range of actions if overexposures are suspected or found, including implementing engineering and work practice controls to reduce the exposure levels and minimize the danger to workers," said May. "Yet, effective steps were not taken here, despite the fact that the company's own monitoring revealed elevated lead levels in some workers' blood. As a result, we have no choice but to issue a willful citation for these hazards and propose a fine of $49,000."
A willful citation is the most severe category of OSHA citation, noted May, and is issued only when OSHA believes on the basis of its inspection that the employer knew specific hazards existed yet apparently chose not to take steps to eliminate them.
May added that an additional $45,250 in penalties were proposed for thirty two alleged Serious violations in the following areas:
Lead: no written lead compliance program developed; protective equipment not provided to exposed employees; no evidence that lead exposure monitoring had been conducted at required intervals; food and drink consumed in lead exposure areas; exposed employees not required to shower at shift's end nor wash hands prior to eating, drinking or smoking; separate lunchroom facilities not provided for exposed employees; lead monitoring records not maintained; exposed employees not provided written information on occupational lead exposure and the OSHA lead standard; training program not required or instituted for all exposed employees;
Silica & Copper: no site-specific written respiratory program for exposure to silica and copper; employees exposed to excess level of silica and feasible engineering controls not implemented to reduce levels and written respiratory program not implemented; enclosed sandblasting area not properly ventilated or sealed and use of an inadequate respirator by an exposed employee;
Hazardous Energy Control (Lockout/tagout): tags used in place of lockout devices where locks were required and required locks were not provided; failure to provide lockout training to workers; lockout procedures were not established for mills and lathes; failure to conduct annual or more frequent audits of the lockout procedures;
Confined Space Entry: failure to evaluate the workplace to identify confined spaces; no written confined space entry program; atmospheric monitoring and testing equipment not provided to employees required to work in confined spaces; no attendant stationed outside confined space during worker entry; employees not provided adequate training on confined space entry;
Machine Guarding: unenclosed band saw; unguarded horizontal shafting and shaft nuts; unguarded vertical belts; unguarded rotating parts of a lathe;
Personal Protective Equipment: protective equipment, such as protective sleeves and aprons and a face shield were not used when necessary and failure to assess the workplace to determine the need for personal protective equipment;
Miscellaneous: unguarded open-sided floors; improper handling of compressed gas cylinders; excess air pressure in compressed air hoses used for cleaning; hearing conservation program was not established for employees exposed to excess noise levels;
A total of fourteen alleged Other than Serious violations, with no fines proposed, were cited for a variety of items related to exposure monitoring for noise, metals dust, cadmium and formaldehyde; employee training; testing and maintenance of exhaust and ventilation systems; medical surveillance; and the absence of a flash screen for employees working near welding operations.
May urged Granite State employers and employees with questions regarding workplace safety and health standards to contact the OSHA area office in Concord at 603-225-1629 and added that OSHA's toll-free, nationwide hotline --1-800-321-OSHA (1-800-321-6742)-- may be used to report workplace accidents or fatalities or situations posing imminent danger to workers, especially if they occur outside of normal business hours.
A willful violation is defined by OSHA as one committed with an intentional disregard of, or plain indifference to, the requirements of the Occupational Safety and Health Act and regulations.
A serious violation is defined as one in which there is a substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result, and the employer knew, or should have known, of the hazard.
An other-than-serious violation is a condition which would probably not cause death or serious physical harm but would have a direct and immediate relationship to the safety and health of employees.
OSHA is empowered by the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 to issue standards and rules requiring employers to provide their employees with safe and healthful workplaces and jobsites, and to assure through workplace inspections that those standards are followed.
The company has 15 working days from receipt of the citations and proposed penalties to either elect to comply with them, to request and participate in an informal conference with the OSHA area director, or to contest them before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.
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The information in this release will be made available to sensory impaired individuals upon request. Voice phone: (617) 565-2072. TDD (Telecommunications Device for the Deaf) Message Referral Phone: 800-347-8029.