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OSHA Whiplashes on Air Force Case

Thursday, November 21, 2013

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Federal health and safety officials have done an about-face in their case against Robins Air Force Base, cited recently for excessive toxic exposures during paint removal operations.

Two weeks after the Occupational Safety and Health Administration slapped a Notice of Violation on the Georgia air base, it presented Robins with a "Star flag" designating its 402nd Maintenance Support Group as an OSHA Voluntary Protection Program (VPP) Star Site.

U.S. Air Force / Sue Sapp

In 2011, Evan Roquemore donned protective gear to show new grit blasting techniques at Robins AFB, after OSHA reported multiple violations in the painting operation.

Now, OSHA has also rescinded the Notice of Violation, an agency spokesman confirmed this week.

'Enhanced Settlement Agreement'

"OSHA agreed to delete the Notice based on an enhanced settlement agreement where the base committed to increased engineering efforts to reduce exposures and increased sampling to ensure effectiveness of improved and newly implemented work controls," agency spokesman Michael D'Aquino said in an email.

The Notice of Violation (the equivalent of a private-sector OSHA citation) alleged one serious violation at the base's Corrosion Control De-Paint Building 59D, based on an inspection in May.

The Notice said base employees at Warner Robins Air Logistics Complex were being exposed to excessive levels of hexavalent chromium while sanding composite areas of C-17 aircraft.

OSHA inspectors said two workers who were hand-sanding at the facility had been exposed to 15.7 and 23.8 times the Permissible Exposure Limit (PEL) for hexavalent chromium, a known human carcinogen.

U.S. Air Force / Claude Lazzara

Contractors Michael Thompson (left) and Roddrick Britton clean up debris at Robins AFB. The base received an OSHA Notice of Violation, then an award.

The Notice required corrective action by Dec. 3.

The Notice was the latest in a series of violations reported in Robins' painting operation in recent years.

OSHA's Voluntary Protection Program recognizes emmployers that have "implemented effective safety and health management systems and maintain injury and illness rates below national Bureau of Labor Statistics averages for their respective industries."


Tagged categories: Awards and honors; Health and safety; Hexavalent chromium; OSHA; Sanding and hand tool cleaning; Surface preparation; U.S. Air Force

Comment from Anna Jolly, (11/27/2013, 11:00 AM)

That is totally weird.

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