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Castings Maker Fined $220K for Repeated Silica Exposures

Thursday, February 3, 2011

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The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has cited Oberdorfer LLC for 28 alleged violations of workplace health and safety standards, including failing to correct hazards cited during a previous OSHA inspection.

Oberdorfer LLC

The Syracuse, NY, manufacturer of aluminum castings faces a total of $220,000 in proposed fines in connection with an OSHA inspection opened July 30, 2010, to verify correction of previously cited hazards.

Overexposure, Respirator Violations

OSHA previously cited the company for a variety of violations involving employee overexposure to airborne concentrations of silica, which has been classified as a human lung carcinogen.

This newest inspection found that the company had failed to implement engineering controls to reduce workers' exposure to silica. In addition, OSHA said, an employee who was overexposed to silica lacked a respirator.

An OSHA spokesman said the exposures came from the removal of sand from newly manufactured components. The components are made in sand molds, and the sand must then be removed.

"This company was given the time and opportunity to take effective corrective action, yet our latest inspections identified silica-related hazards that either went uncorrected or were allowed to recur. This is unacceptable," said Christopher Adams, OSHA's area director in Syracuse.

"The sizable fines levied here reflect the severity and recurring nature of these conditions. They must be corrected—once and for all—to help ensure the health and safety of the workers at this plant.”

The company did not respond to a request for comment.

Citations Detailed

As a result of the latest inspections, OSHA issued the company two failure-to-abate notices carrying $75,000 in fines for the uncorrected conditions and one willful citation with a $70,000 fine for the lack of respiratory protection.

A willful violation reflects an intentional disregard for the law or plain indifference to employee safety and health.

The company also was issued 21 serious citations and a total of $72,000 in fines for:

• Fall, electrical and machine guarding hazards;

• A locked exit door;

• Lack of a permit-required confined space program and training;

• Failure to develop specific lockout/tagout procedures to prevent the unintended startup of machinery;

• Lack of an eyewash station; and

• Failing to provide training on silica.

Finally, the company was issued four other-than-serious citations and fined a total of $3,000 for inadequate recording of workplace injuries and illnesses.

A serious citation reflects a substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result from a hazard about which the employer knew, or should have known. An other-than-serious violation is one that is directly related to job safety and health, but probably would not cause death or serious physical harm.

Silica Dangers

"One means of addressing workplace hazards such as these is for employers to establish and maintain an illness and injury prevention program, in which workers and management work together continuously to identify and eliminate hazardous conditions," said Robert Kulick, OSHA's regional administrator in New York.

Breathing crystalline silica dust can cause silicosis, which can be disabling or even fatal. The respirable silica dust enters the lungs and causes the formation of scar tissue, thus reducing the lungs' ability to take in oxygen. Detailed information on silica hazards and safeguards, including an interactive eTool, is available online from OSHA.

Oberdorfer LLC has 15 business days from receipt of the citations to comply, meet with the OSHA area director, or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

Oberdorfer Aluminum Foundry has been in continuous operation since it was founded in 1875. The company manufactures highly engineered cast aluminum component parts for the aviation, transportation, utilities, aerospace, military and other markets.

   

Tagged categories: Health and safety; OSHA; Respirators; Violations

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