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Region 1 News Release: 09-579-BOS/BOS 2009-160
Thurs., June 11, 2009
Contact: Ted Fitzgerald
Phone: 617-565-2074

U.S. Labor Department's OSHA proposes more than $255,000 in fines against New Hampshire firearms manufacturer for 60 safety and health hazards

CONCORD, N.H. - The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has proposed $255,150 in fines against Sturm Ruger & Co. Inc. for 60 alleged violations of safety and health standards identified during the agency's inspections of the firearms manufacturer's Newport, N.H., plant conducted between November 2008 and May 2009.

"Our inspections identified a large number of mechanical, respirator protection, electrical, lead, fire, explosive and other hazards that must be effectively and continuously addressed to protect the workers at this plant from potentially deadly or disabling injuries and illnesses now and in the future," said Rosemarie Ohar, OSHA's area director in New Hampshire.

OSHA found that the company failed to guard rotating parts on drill presses, sanding and polishing machines despite its knowledge that employees were exposed to severe or fatal injuries if they came in contact with the rotating parts. As a result, OSHA has issued the company one willful citation with $63,000 in proposed fines. OSHA defines a willful violation as one committed with plain indifference to or intentional disregard for employee safety and health.

Additional safety hazards include the lack of spark detectors or suppression systems to minimize fire and explosion hazards in ventilation systems that collect combustible wood and metal dust; allowing combustible dust to accumulate; unguarded floors and platforms; lack of eyewashes and adequate personal protective equipment; inadequate procedures, equipment and training to lock out machines' power sources; improper storage of compressed gas cylinders; damaged, improperly used or ungrounded electrical equipment; additional unguarded machinery; and deficiencies with paint spray booths, confined space rescue, compressed air, forklifts and the transfer of flammable liquids.

The health inspection identified employees exposed to excess levels of lead dust; inadequate lead monitoring, training, hygiene, cleaning and disposal methods; inappropriate selection of respirators for lead; improper respirator fit-testing and use; no medical evaluations for employees using respirators; no refitting and retraining for employees who experienced a hearing threshold shift; and unlabeled containers of hazardous chemicals.

These conditions resulted in the issuance of 55 serious citations with $188,550 in fines. OSHA issues serious citations when death or serious physical harm is likely to result from hazards about which the employer knew or should have known.

The company also has been fined $3,600 and issued four other-than-serious citations for inadequate recordkeeping.

Sturm Ruger has 15 business days from receipt of the citations and proposed penalties to comply, request an informal conference with the area director or contest them before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission. The inspection was conducted by OSHA's Concord Area Office; telephone 603-225-1629.

Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing a safe and healthy workplace for their employees. OSHA's role is to promote the safety and health of America's working men and women by setting and enforcing standards; providing training, outreach and education; establishing partnerships; and encouraging continual process improvement in workplace safety and health. For more information, visit http://www.osha.gov.

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U.S. Department of Labor releases are accessible on the Internet at www.dol.gov. The information in this news release will be made available in alternate format (large print, Braille, audiotape or disc) from the COAST office upon request. Please specify which news release when placing your request at 202-693-7828 or TTY 202-693-7755. The Labor Department is committed to providing America's employers and employees with easy access to understandable information on how to comply with its laws and regulations. For more information, please visit www.dol.gov/compliance.


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