March 2, 2015
OSHA fines US Minerals more than $113K for repeatedly
exposing workers to dangerous machinery, falls and chemical hazards
Coal slag manufacturing facility receives 4 repeated, 3 serious violations
ROBERTS, Wis. – Two years after pledging to address health and safety violations in a corporate settlement agreement after workers were exposed to serious machine, fall and respiratory hazards at its facilities around the country, U.S. Minerals Inc. employees in Roberts were faced with the same hazards, a September 2014 U.S. Department of Labor Occupational Safety and Health Administration inspection found.
U.S. Minerals received four repeated, three serious and two other-than-serious violations at the coal slag facility and faces proposed penalties of $113,300.
"U.S. Minerals continues to demonstrate that the safety and health of its workers is not a corporate priority," said Mark Hysell, area director of OSHA's Eau Claire office. "This inspection demonstrates that the company has failed to meet the goals outlined in the 2012 agreement. This is a disheartening setback for worker safety at this company."
OSHA's investigation found workers endangered by amputation and crushing hazards at a conveyor and while clearing pallet jams and debris from a pallet elevator because proper safety mechanisms and procedures to power down machines fully during maintenance were not implemented. Workers were also expected to unclog a chute at a height of about 25 feet without adequate fall protection systems in place. This inspection resulted in four repeated violations. Fall and machine hazards are the most frequently cited OSHA standards.
In addition, a known carcinogen, hexavalent chromium, was found in eating areas. Employees were not trained on hazardous chemicals in their workplace and their potential health effects, and protective measures to be taken to avoid overexposure. U.S. Minerals also failed to develop procedures for summoning rescue and emergency services and used fiberglass self-supporting ladders inappropriately.
U.S. Minerals was cited for similar violations at its facilities in Baldwin, Illinois, and Harvey, Louisiana, in 2012. OSHA issues repeated violations if an employer was previously cited for the same or a similar violation of any standard, regulation, rule or order at any other facility in federal enforcement states within the last five years.
A total of three serious violations were issued. An OSHA violation is serious if death or serious physical harm could result from a hazard an employer knew or should have known exists.
OSHA inspectors also noted exits were blocked by large pallets of materials and powered industrial trucks were left unattended while being filled with materials, exposing workers to struck-by hazards. Two other-than-serious violations were issued.
View the current citations at http://www.osha.gov/ooc/citations/USMineralsInc993455_2-26-15.pdf*.
Headquartered in Dyer, Indiana, U.S. Minerals manufactures abrasive blasting and roofing materials from slag produced at coal-fired power plants. The company has been inspected by OSHA 18 times since 1983, resulting in the issuance of multiple safety and health violations, including 43 citations for exposing workers to dangerous machine hazards and lockout/tagout deficiencies
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.
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 Eau Claire Area Office at 715-832-9019.
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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Release Number: 15-297-CHI
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