April 6, 2015
Metso Minerals exposes workers to serious hazards
found in machine operations and welding steel
OSHA finds rules to prevent cuts and amputations, toxic exposure ignored
WARRENTON, Mo. – Twice in just 18 months, workers at Metso Minerals Industries Inc. were found in danger of suffering cuts, lacerations and amputation from dangerous machine hazards at the Warrenton metal-mesh manufacturer because their employer ignored important safety rules. Acting on a complaint, U.S. Department of Labor Occupational Safety and Health Administration inspectors identified one repeated and eight serious safety violations at the facility, including exposing workers to hexavalent chromium, a toxic metal known to cause cancer. OSHA has proposed penalties of $64,250.
"More than 200,000 American workers are injured by machine hazards annually. Workers pay the price when companies fail to follow standards to reduce injuries," said Bill McDonald, area director of OSHA's St. Louis office. "The safety mechanisms at Metso Minerals are inadequate, and the company was cited for similar hazards in 2013. The company needs to take immediate steps to comply with this safety standard."
The Jan. 27 investigation found workers endangered by amputation hazards because machines were not shut down properly prior to service and maintenance. Workers were also found operating press brakes without appropriate safety devices. This inspection resulted in one repeated violation.
Similar violations were discovered at Metso Minerals in Warrenton in May 2013. 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 last five years.
Inspectors also determined that the company failed to monitor hexavalent chromium exposure levels among workers. Chromium is added to harden alloy steel and help it resist corrosion. In this case, workers were exposed to chromium during "hot work," when stainless steel and other alloy steels containing chromium metal were welded.
Investigators also noted the company did not secure live conductors to power boxes, failed to close unused openings in electrical boxes and did not store compressed gas cylinders properly.
A total of eight serious health and safety 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.
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 St. Louis Area Office at 314-425-4249.
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: 15-451-KAN
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