The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has issued 17 citations and proposed $300,400 in fines against a Georgia industrial painting contractor, alleging chemical overexposures, lack of protection and other violations.
The citations against Aerospace/Defense Coatings of Georgia Inc. in Macon follow up on multiple serious citations issued against the company in 2005 and 2008.
PPE, Chemical Citations
The company provides painting, shot peening, abrasive-blast cleaning, non-destructive testing and other services for government agencies, aerospace companies, and others. The company did not reply to a request for comment Friday (Nov. 19).
The new citations stem from an inspection OSHA conducted in May after receiving a complaint concerning personal protective equipment and the handling, storing and disposing of chemicals, the agency said. Inspections were conducted at all three of the company’s plants.
The company is accused of four willful violations related to respirator protection, chromium (VI) overexposure, personal protective equipment and failing to perform periodic monitoring of chromium (VI) exposure; the proposed penalty for these is $224,000.
Eight repeat violations, with a proposed penalty of $50,400, are allegedly related to hazardous waste, emergency response, written programs, personal protective equipment for acids, failing to provide employee information and training, and respirator training and storage.
Seven citations for serious violations, with a proposed penalty of $26,000, allegedly involve failure to:
• Train employees to respond to hazardous waste emergencies;
• Post the results of chromium (VI) levels that were above the permissible exposure limit in an accessible location;
• Establish a regulated area where employees' exposure to airborne concentrations was in excess of the permissible exposure limit;
• Provide a change area to prevent cross-contamination;
• Ensure surfaces contaminated with chemicals were cleaned;
• Institute a medical surveillance program; and
• Provide information and training for employees exposed to chromium (VI).
OSHA defines a willful violation as one committed with intentional knowing or voluntary disregard for the law's requirements, or with plain indifference to worker safety and health. A repeat violation is issued when an employer previously has been cited for the same or a similar violation within the last five years.
A serious citation is issued when there is substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result from a hazard about which the employer knew or should have known.
In February, OSHA launched a National Emphasis Program targeting chromium (VI), or hexavalent chromium. That was followed by new requirements for protecting workers from exposure and revised notification requirements.
"The employer had ample information alerting him to the hazards posed by hexavalent chromium, yet allowed his employees to continue to be exposed," said Bill Fulcher, director of OSHA's Atlanta-East Area Office. "OSHA will not tolerate this type of inaction."
The company has 15 business days from receipt of the citations and proposed penalties to comply, request an informal conference, or contest the findings.