US Department of Labor's OSHA cites Houston-based Schumacher Co.
for exposing workers to hazardous chemicals; fines total $166,500
HOUSTON – The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration has cited Schumacher Co. of Texas Inc. for 31 alleged serious and two other-than-serious violations for exposing employees to multiple safety and health hazards, including exposure to hazardous chemicals, at the company's facility in Houston. Proposed penalties total $166,500.
In response to a referral, OSHA initiated a safety and health inspection on Jan. 4 at the company's facility on Polk Street. Employees were observed performing chrome and nickel plating operations without wearing required personal protective equipment, as well as being exposed to other safety and health hazards.
"This company jeopardized the safety of its workers by not providing personal protective equipment required while working with dangerous chemicals," said Mark Briggs, director of OSHA's Houston South Area Office. "It is fortunate that there were no injuries or fatalities in this case."
Serious violations include failing to require employees to wear appropriate personal protective equipment while working with acids and hexavalent chromium, such as chemical aprons, sleeves/gauntlets and footwear; provide guarding for belts and pulleys; provide fall protection for employees, such as standard railings around hoppers and dip tanks containing hazardous chemicals; develop and implement specific machine lockout/tagout procedures; and provide adequate cleaning methods to minimize exposure to hexavalent chromium. 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.
Other-than-serious violations include failing to fit-test employees for respirators and perform hexavalent chromium exposure monitoring for newly hired employees. An other-than-serious violation is one that has a direct relationship to job safety and health, but probably would not cause death or serious physical harm.
The company has 15 business days from receipt of the citations to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA's Houston South area director or contest the citations and penalties before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.
Employers and employees with questions about workplace safety and health standards can call OSHA's Houston South office at 281-286-0583 or its Houston North office at 281-591-2438. To report workplace incidents, fatalities or situations posing imminent danger to workers, call the agency's toll-free hotline at 800-321-OSHA (6742).
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.
U.S. Department of Labor news materials are accessible at http://www.dol.gov. The information above is available in large print, Braille, audio tape or disc from the COAST office upon request by calling 202-693-7828 or TTY 202-693-7755.