September 12, 2016
A-Brite Plating allows workers to continue to climb atop acid tanks
despite employee's third-degree burns after fall
Company fails to report injury; OSHA proposes penalties of $256K
CLEVELAND, Ohio - Just weeks after a machine operator suffered third-degree chemical burns to his left foot after falling into an acid-etching tank heated to more than 170 degrees, federal inspectors posted an imminent danger notice at A-Brite Plating when they found workers climbing atop the same acid tanks at the Cleveland auto parts plating facility.
The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration inspectors posted the danger notice April 1, 2016, when they arrived to initiate an inspection after learning of the worker's March 14, 2016, injury. A-Brite Plating failed to report the injury, as required.
As a result of its inspection, OSHA cited the company for one willful and eight serious safety and health violations on Sept. 9, 2016. A-Brite faces proposed penalties of $256,545.
Investigators found the 40-year-old machine operator was clearing a jam from a conveyor arm above the tank when he fell. They found he had no protection to prevent a fall, nor adequate personal protective equipment to protect him from chemical burns. His injuries have required extensive skin grafts to his left foot.
"Allowing workers to continue climbing on top of acid tanks after knowing an employee suffered a third-degree chemical burn when he fell into a tank is unconscionable," said Howard Eberts, area director of OSHA's Cleveland office. "During our investigation OSHA found the company was well aware of the dangers of falling into the tank because at least seven employees had fallen while clearing machine jams in the past five years. This life-altering injury was preventable by following basic safety procedures A-Brite needs to take immediate action to protect workers in its facility by re-evaluating its safety and health programs to ensure they are providing training, procedures and protective equipment to protect workers on the job."
OSHA's inspection found A-Brite also failed to:
- Develop a confined space program, despite requiring workers to climb into tanks to clean them on a routine basis.
- Implement machine safety procedures to protect workers from operating parts during service and maintenance.
A-Brite Plating is a division of Ontario, Canada-based Plasma Group, which employs about 3,800 workers at 20 global locations.
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 amputations, eye loss, 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 Cleveland Area Office at (216) 447-4194.
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: 16-1795-CHI
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