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Abrasives Maker Gets 10th OSHA Case

Monday, March 24, 2014

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Fourteen months after resolving numerous federal health and safety violations at its plant in Harvey, LA, U.S. Minerals is facing a fresh round of citations at the facility.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration citations, announced Wednesday (March 19), come two months after OSHA issued a second round of citations and $195,470 in fines involving the company's plant in Baldwin, IL.

US Minerals
U.S. Minerals

U.S. Minerals is operating under a stringent two-year settlement agreement signed in August 2012. The new allegations follow inspections last fall.

And both cases come scarcely a year after the abrasives and roofing materials maker resolved eight OSHA cases involving multiple plants with a fine of $700,000.

Case Contested

The new case details one repeat and seven serious violations and proposes fines totaling $77,770. The allegations include lack of noise protection, training lapses and lockout/tagout violations.

The citations were issued after inspections of the Harvey plant in September and October 2013.

In a statement Friday (March 21), U.S. Minerals disputed the allegations.

"Upon careful review of the citations and the facts in the case, the Company determined that it was in compliance with the safety standards cited by OSHA," the statement said.

"As a result of this determination, U. S. Minerals is asserting its legal rights and has contested each of the citations issued to the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

USMinerals
U.S. Minerals

With seven manufacturing locations, U.S. Minerals is one of the largest U.S. producers of coal-slag products, including Black Magnum abrasives.

"The Company looks forward to presenting its evidence to show that it is in compliance with the OSHA safety standards and regulations."

Repeat, Serious Citations

The new citations include a repeat violation alleging that the company failed to conduct annual inspections of energy control procedures on its coal slag dryer. OSHA listed a similar violation in November 2010 among the 30 citations it issued regarding the same facility.

The new serious violations, carrying $50,820 in penalties, allege:

  • An inappropriate and mismarked exit;
  • Lack of options on hearing protection (only orange foam disposable plugs with an NRR rating of 32dBs are provided);
  • Insufficient training and supervision in fitting and using hearing protection;
  • Insufficient annual review of its permit-required confined-space program;
  • Insufficient training in confined-space safety (the citations suggest "mock drills and role-playing scenarios");
  • Failure to evaluate the ability of rescue personnel designated in its confined-space program;
  • Inadequate use of retrieval systems for employees entering confined spaces;
  • Inadequate training of forklift operators;
  • Failure to certify training of operators of powered industrial trucks; and
  • Two incidents of failure to remove equipment in need of repairs from service;

The last three items were corrected during the inspection, OSHA documents say.

Settlement History

U.S. Minerals, based in Dyer, IN, is one of the largest U.S. producers of coal slag products. The company produces Black Magnum coal slag and Black Diamond iron silicate abrasives, roofing granules, and fill.

BlackMagnum Roof Shingles
www.smecca.com (left); U.S. Minerals (right)

U.S. Minerals produces coal-slag and iron silicate abrasives, granules and products for a range of applications.

In August 2012, U.S. Minerals signed a two-year, 27-page Settlement Agreement with the OSH Review Commission to settle 141 health and safety violations at the four plants it then operated. (It has since opened three additional plants in Anaconda, MT; Roberts, WI; and La Cygne, KS.)

The fine, originally more than $1.5 million, was reduced to $700,000 and paid in full. The company was placed in OSHA's Severe Violator Enforcement Program in 2010. That program mandates follow-up inspections for employers with a history of safety violations.

The 2012 settlement agreement stipulated a lengthy list of conditions for the company, including the hiring of an OSHA-approved full-time safety manager with extensive authority. U.S. Minerals complied with all of the terms and remediated all of the violations, an OSHA spokesman said at the time.

   

Tagged categories: Abrasive blasting; Coal slag; Fall protection; Health and safety; OSHA; U.S. Minerals

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