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Gas Leak Exposure Leads to Citations

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

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A Wisconsin metal finishing facility that allegedly failed to evacuate workers during a natural gas leak has been cited with 17 health and safety violations, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration announced.

Badger Metal Finishing Inc., of St. Francis, WI, is accused of violating OSHA standards related to fall, eye and respiratory protection, labeling of hazardous chemical containers, and others, in addition to failing to evacuate workers during a gas leak.

The citations—14 serious and three other-than-serious—total $46,200 in proposed penalties, according to OSHA.

Badger Metal Finshing
Badger Metal Finishing

OSHA inspected Badger Metal Finishing after receiving a complaint that workers were not evacuated during a natural gas leak.

The company conducts metal polishing and plating, powder coating, and finishing applications for a variety of industries, but primarily the automotive and motorcycle businesses.

"Failing to evacuate workers during a natural gas leak shows a serious disregard for worker safety and health," Chris Zortman, OSHA's area director in Milwaukee, said in a statement.

Badger Metal Finishing has filed a notice to contest the citations, an OSHA spokesperson confirmed Monday (Aug. 26).

The company declined to comment on Monday.

Citation Details

Serious violations are those that carry substantial probability of death or serious injury from a hazard the employer knew, or should have known, about. The serious violations against Badger Metal Finishing include:

  • Exposing employees to the potential of a natural gas explosion and fire after a natural gas leak was detected and employees working in the powder room were not evacuated ($4,900);
  • Exposing employees to fall hazards where railings were removed from an elevated work platform and handrails were removed on the stairs going up to the work platform in the oven room ($3,500);
  • Failure to ensure employees were using appropriate eye protection when exposed to hooks used for hanging product in the powder coating area ($4,900);
  • Not implementing a written respirator program to ensure employees were medically able to use the respirators and that they were properly maintained and cleaned ($2,800);
  • Not developing, documenting or using procedures to control potentially hazardous energy when employees were conducting lockout/tagout on the powder coating oven, as well as exposing employees to electrcal and natural gas sources of energy ($4,900);
  • Failure to provide lockout/tagout training for authorized personnel who perform such procedures on the powder coating oven and other equipment ($4,900);
  • Failure to ensure that each powered industrial truck operator is competent to operate the vehicle safely ($4,900);
  • Not evaluating each powered industrial truck operator's performance at least once every three years ($4,900);
  • Having defective tires on a powered industrial truck, with portions of the tire missing and cracked ($3,500);
  • Not allowing the required 36 inches of clearance in front of an electrical panel ($3,500); and
  • Exposing employees to electrical shock hazards by using a flexible cord set with the ground pin missing as well as damaged outer insulation ($3,500).
OSHA respirator standards

Badger Metal Finishing has filed a notice to contest the citations, which include respiratory protection violations, an OSHA spokesperson said on Aug. 26.

Other-than-serious violations included:

  • Not inspecting energy control procedures annually to ensure that the requirements were being followed;
  • Not ensuring that each container of hazardous chemicals was labeled, tagged or marked with the appropriate warnings; and
  • Not ensuring that employees were properly trained on Hazard Communication "in that employees had little to no knowledge of Hazard Communication, MSDS, or any hazards associated with chemicals that they use on site."

The other-than-serious citations did not result in proposed penalties, but did require abatement documentation.


Tagged categories: Citations; Fall protection; Hazard Communication Standard (HCS); Metals; OSHA; Personal protective equipment

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