March 30, 2015
Koser Iron Works faces penalties of more than $102K for
exposing workers to machine, fire and explosion hazards, lack of training
OSHA cites company for 2 willful, 4 repeated, 12 serious safety violations
BARRON, Wis. – Once again, workers were exposed to dangerous amputation hazards* while fabricating metal products because safety mechanisms were not in place at Koser Iron Works Inc. Responding to a complaint, inspectors from the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration found during an inspection initiated on Oct. 1, 2014, two willful, four repeated and 12 serious safety violations, including lack of training and personal protective equipment. The agency has proposed fines of $102,180 for the Barron-based company.
"Workers pay the price when companies fail to follow safety standards," said Mark Hysell, OSHA's area director in Eau Claire. "Machine hazards are among the most frequently cited by OSHA. All manufacturers should examine their procedures to ensure they are in compliance. It takes seconds for a worker to be severely injured, but often a lifetime to recover."
While Koser employees made die changes on punch presses, the company failed to use energy control procedures, including powering off and affixing locking devices to prevent unintentional operation of a press. The company also failed to ensure safety mechanisms were in place on its power presses and lathes. Similar hazards were found in a 2013 investigation after a complaint prompted an inspection at the same facility.
A willful violation is one committed with intentional, knowing or voluntary disregard for the law's requirement, or with plain indifference to employee safety and health.
Inspectors also found that lift truck operators were not trained before operating equipment, a violation also noted in 2013, which produced a second repeated violation. 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 past five years.
Workers were also found to be exposed to explosion and fire hazards because Koser failed to store flammable liquids properly; electrical equipment and lift trucks were not approved for areas with flammable atmospheres; and the company failed to install a required ventilation system in the storage room.
Koser Iron Works also failed to ensure the use of eye protection or to evaluate employees medically before they used respirators. Damaged welding and electrical equipment were also noted.
In total, 12 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.
To view the current citations, visit http://www.osha.gov/ooc/citations/KoserIronWorksInc_998042.pdf*
Koser is a steel fabrication company that primarily cuts, forms and welds steel and steel products. 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 agency's 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: 15-458-CHI
U.S. Department of Labor news materials are accessible at http://www.dol.gov. The department's Reasonable Accommodation Resource Center converts departmental information and documents into alternative formats, which include Braille and large print. For alternative format requests, please contact the department at (202) 693-7828 (voice) or (800) 877-8339 (federal relay).
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