April 2, 2015
Aluminum foundry exposes workers to chlorine gas and other hazards
Custom Alloy Sales 34P faces more than $160K in fines for 31 safety and health violations
PRESCOTT, Kan. – Workers risked exposure to dangerous chlorine gas while forging blocks of metal material at an aluminum foundry in Prescott because their employer did not train them on how to handle and store the gas, U.S. Department of Labor Occupational Safety and Health Administration inspectors found. Improperly used, chlorine gas can cause severe respiratory damage.
Unsafe use of the gas was discovered by OSHA at Custom Alloy Sales 34P LLC in September 2014 after a complaint prompted an inspection. Investigators found employees endangered by permit-required confined space hazards while working in foundry furnaces. A confined space is one large enough for workers to enter and perform certain jobs, such as a holding tank, but it has limited or restricted means for entry or exit and is not designed for continuous occupancy.
As a result, OSHA issued 31 serious health and safety citations with proposed penalties of $160,200. Inspectors determined Custom Alloy Sales failed to train workers on hazardous chemicals used at the foundry; store oxygen and fuel-gas cylinders properly, and protect workers from dangerous machine parts. The agency also found forklifts with defects in use.
"With more than 30 violations, it's clear that the safety and health of its workers are not priorities at Custom Alloy Sales. Failing to provide training, safety equipment is unacceptable," said Judy Freeman, OSHA's area director in Wichita. "The foundry needs to make immediate improvements before tragedy strikes."
Custom Alloy also failed to conduct audiometric testing; ensure hearing protection was worn; and to train employees on noise hazards. Noise-related hearing loss is one of the most prevalent occupational health concerns in the U.S., with an estimated 30 million people occupationally exposed to noise each year. This exposure can cause permanent hearing loss that neither surgery nor a hearing aid can correct.
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.
The OSHA citations can be viewed at:
Custom Alloy Sales has contested the citations and penalties and the case may go before an 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 Wichita Area Office at 316-269-6644.
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.
Release Number: 15-398-KAN
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