Department of Labor Logo OSHA News Release - Region 2


March 6, 2023

 

Mercury poisoning: Long Island thermometer maker's workers sickened by unsafe exposures to toxic metal, faces nearly $200K in penalties

West Babylon company cited for 21 violations; failed to protect workers, report illnesses

WESTBURY, NY – Federal workplace safety inspectors have cited a thermometer manufacturer for overexposing their employees to mercury at its West Babylon facility.

U.S. Department of Labor Occupational Safety and Health Administration inspectors determined Kessler Thermometer Corp. overexposed employees to airborne elemental mercury in August 2022 while they worked to distill and purify elemental mercury, fill thermometers, blow glass and during calibration and engraving of thermometers and hydrometers.

Agency inspectors found the company willfully exposed and severely sickened workers by allowing the airborne concentration of the toxic metal to exceed the 8-hour, time-weighted average based on biological exposure indices. OSHA inspectors identified 18 serious violations, one willful violation and two other-than-serious violations by Kessler Thermometer Corp. and proposed $195,988 in penalties.

“Kessler Thermometer Corp. knowingly endangered the lives and health of their employees by ignoring basic safeguards to control hazardous mercury in the workplace and failed to acknowledge its employees were being sickened by mercury exposure,” said OSHA Area Director Kevin Sullivan in Westbury, New York. “This company has been operating for about 20 years and knows the dangers their workers face.”

Specifically, the company failed to provide:

  • Engineering controls to reduce mercury exposure.
  • Complete and effective respiratory protection and chemical hazard communication programs.
  • Appropriate personal protective equipment and clothing.
  • An emergency response plan to handle cleanup of spilled mercury.
  • Eating and food storage areas free of mercury exposure.
  • An emergency shower and appropriate first aid.
  • Proper labeling for all hazardous chemical containers.
  • Recording of all recordable work-related injuries and illnesses.
  • Report a work-related incident resulting in in-patient hospitalization due to mercury poisoning.

View the citations.

Kessler Thermometer Corp. operates an 8,000-square-foot laboratory and manufacturing facility in West Babylon. Its current ownership has operated the company since 2002.

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.

Learn more about OSHA and the hazards and adverse health effects from mercury exposure.

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Media Contacts:

Ted Fitzgerald, 617-565-2075, fitzgerald.edmund@dol.gov
James C. Lally, 617-565-2074, lally.james.c@dol.gov

Release Number:  23-424-NEW