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Plant Painting Draws OSHA Fine

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

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The Occupational Safety and Health Administration is proposing $121,800 in penalties for 40 safety and health violations related in part to painting operations at two Alabama manufacturing plants.

Tri-Cities Manufacturing

OSHA began its safety investigation at Tri-Cities Manufacturing Inc., in Tuscumbia, AL, as part of its national emphasis program on amputations and later expanded the probe to include a health inspection. A safety and health inspection was later initiated at Tool Masters Inc., of Tuscumbia, once it was determined that the plants shared equipment and employees.

“Employers are responsible for the safety and health of their workplaces, and this owner needs to take the steps necessary to eliminate workplace hazards,” said Roberto Sanchez, OSHA’s area director in Birmingham.

A TMC spokesman was unavailable for comment Wednesday, the company said. The company has no prior record with OSHA.

Painting Violations

Health inspections at Tri-Cities and Tool Masters yielded seven serious violations for each company with a combined $48,300 in proposed penalties. The hazards for both companies include failing to control noise, provide protective equipment, provide a hazard communications program, and train workers in chemical exposures.

At Tri-Cities, OSHA documents noted:

• Spray booth walls and ceilings were made of wood, plywood  and other combustible materials, rather than steel, concrete or masonry.

• Spray booths lacked sprinkler systems.

• No protective equipment, protective clothing or respirators were “provided, used [or] maintained” for employees working with corrosive chemicals.

• There was no respiratory program and no medical evaluations for employees working in the powder coatings booths or the spray booths.

• Painters who were required to wear N95 dust masks or half-face masks were not trained in how to use them, how long to use them, or how to fit, test, store or maintain them.

• Engineering controls were not developed or used to minimize excessive particulate exposures, leaving workers exposed to total dust at 1.4 times the Permissible Exposure Limit.

• Employees were not trained or instructed in the hazards of titanium dioxide, methyl ethyl ketone, xylene, iron oxide and other flammable or corrosive chemicals to which they were exposed.

• Spray booths lacked gauges to indicate whether the required air velocity was maintained.

Safety Citations

OSHA cited Tri-Cities with 15 serious safety violations and Tool Masters with six serious safety violations for a combined $72,100 in proposed penalties. The allegations include failing to lock out/tag out energy sources for equipment; remove blocks around fire extinguishers and exit doors; provide machine guarding; and address various electrical deficiencies.

OSHA also cited Tri-Cities with two other-than-serious safety violations for allegedly failing to complete OSHA 300 logs for two years. These violations carry $1,400 in proposed penalties. Also, Tri-Cities received one and Tool Masters received two other-than-serious health violations with no proposed penalties.

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. An other-than-serious violation is one that has a direct relationship to job safety and health, but probably would not cause death or serious physical harm.

The companies have 15 business days from receipt of the citations and proposed penalties to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA, or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

About the Company

Tri-Cities Manufacturing Inc. describes itself as “a highly diversified contract manufacturer, capable of supplying clients with a wide variety of services and materials.” The company’s services include  powder coating and auto painting lines, auto assembly, pad printing, ultrasonic and robotic welding, and a tool and die shop.


Tagged categories: Air spray; Health and safety; OSHA; Paint application; Personal protective equipment; Powder coatings; Respirators; Violations

Comment from James Johnson, (2/17/2011, 10:55 AM)

Since OSHA is self-funded through fines, there is no way they will ever be satisfied. Were they to find a firm in compliance, their paychecks would dry up. So when firms do learn to comply with OSHA, they further tighten up the rules so more fines may be assessed. It's kind of like playing a game and changing the rules as you play while having no say in the changes.

Comment from Car F., (2/17/2011, 10:56 AM)

“A highly diversified contract manufacturer, capable of supplying clients with a wide variety of services and materials.” Except safety to its employees and a right to live perhaps a few extra years by providing the minimum safety equipment....

Comment from Manny Rodriguez, (2/22/2011, 9:30 AM)

OSHA is not self-funded. OSHA funding comes from the national budget. Money collected for fines is turned in to the US Treasury.

Comment from James Johnson, (2/23/2011, 10:15 AM)

When OSHA first came into existence, it was self-funded, but that probably did change over the years. I still see a problem with rule changes, but there is a way to deal with the situation, or used to be. You can call and ask for a voluntary inspection where they will perform an inspection. When doing the inspection, they write up any infractions, then give you 30 days to rectify them and, if you do, there are no fines assessed. But that also may have changed.

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