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OSHA News Release
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Region 5


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Oct. 15, 2014

Workers exposed to combustible dust, amputation and other serious
hazards at Cleveland auto coatings plant

CLEVELAND – A complaint inspection found workers were exposed to combustible dust, amputation and other serious hazards at Hurst Auto-Truck Electric Ltd. in Cleveland. The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration has cited the company for 15 serious safety and health violations after the inspection and has proposed penalties of $62,300. The plant specializes in chrome plating and powder-coating finished accessories for the automotive industry.

"Combustible dust can burn rapidly and explode with little warning, putting workers at risk for severe injury and death," said Howard Eberts, OSHA's area director in Cleveland. "OSHA's inspection found that Hurst Auto-Truck Electric failed to maintain areas free of combustible dust and used ignition in areas where combustible dust was present. When the stakes are so high, employers must recognize and eliminate these hazards."

OSHA's March 17, 2014, inspection found workers were exposed to combustible aluminum and steel dust while they worked in the facility. If this dust is suspended in the air in the right concentration, under certain conditions, it can become explosive. The force from such an explosion can cause death, injury and destruction of buildings. The U.S. Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board identified 281 combustible dust incidents between 1980 and 2005 that led to the deaths of 119 workers, another 718 injured and extensive damage to numerous industrial facilities.

Additional serious violations were cited for amputation hazards, including lack of machine guarding and failure to implement specific lockout/tagout procedures to prevent machinery from operating during service and maintenance.

Hurst Auto-Truck Electric also did not administer a hearing conservation program, conduct workplace hazard assessments, ensure personal protective equipment was used, provide portable fire extinguisher training, or provide information and training to employees on hazardous chemicals used in the plant.

A serious violation occurs when there is substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result from a hazard about which the employer knew or should have known.

Hurst Auto-Truck Electric 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 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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Media Contacts:

Scott Allen, 312-353-6976, allen.scott@dol.gov
Rhonda Burke, 312-353-6976, burke.rhonda@dol.gov

Release Number: 14-1894-CHI


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