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OSHA Fines Tank Services Company $114K

Thursday, July 28, 2011

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Lack of machine guards, excessive respirable dust and other alleged hazards have a Wisconsin tank company facing 11 federal safety and health violations and $114,000 in fines.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has cited Brenner Tank Services’ facility in Mauston, WI, for 11 violations, including one willful violation, as a result of inspections conducted in January.

 Brenner Tank Services

 Brenner Tank

Brenner Tank Services has five locations nationwide, including the Wisconsin facility.

“Failing to take basic precautions, such as installing guards on machines and monitoring employees’ exposure to respirable dust, is irresponsible and illegal,” said Kim Stille, OSHA’s area director in Madison. “Workers’ safety and health should be paramount on any job site.”

Violations

The willful violation, with a proposed penalty of $70,000, was cited for failing to guard the point of operation on the shear so that operators were prevented from reaching the danger zone while the shear was being used. A willful violation is one committed with intentional knowing or voluntary disregard for the law’s requirements or with plain indifference to worker safety and health.

The serious violations allege:

• Failing to have a point-of-operation guard on a press brake;

• Overexposing employees to respirable crystalline silica while sandblasting (testing by OSHA showed exposure 7.66 times the permissible limit);

• Lack of engineering controls to reduce silica exposures below the permissible exposure limit;

• Not running abrasive blast exhaust through a dust collection system;

• Allowing dust to accumulate outside of the blast enclosure;

• Failing to evaluate respiratory hazards;

• Failing to conduct medical evaluations for workers using respirators;

• Respirator couplings not being compatible with air hose couplings;

• Failing to ensure surfaces were kept as free as possible of hexavalent chromium, including  areas where employees were eating and drinking; and

• Lack of hazard communication training.

A serious violation occurs 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.

One other-than-serious violation was cited for failing to sample employees expected to have the highest exposure to hexavalent chromium. Other-than-serious violations have a direct relationship to job safety and health, but are unlikely to cause death or serious injury.

About the Company

Brenner Tank Services, a division of Fond du Lac, WI-based Brenner Tank, provides parts, services and repairs in five locations nationwide. Both companies are owned by Walker Group Holdings, of New Lisbon, WI. Brenner Tank was founded in 1900 and has been building stainless steel and aluminum transport tanks for 55 years.

Brenner Tank Services has no record with OSHA. The company did not respond to a request for comment.

Brenner Tank Services has 15 business days from receipt of the citations to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA’s area director, or contest the citations and penalties before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

   

Tagged categories: Air quality; Exposure conditions; Health and safety; Hexavalent chromium; OSHA; Regulations; Respirators; Silica; Tanks and vessels

Comment from Stephen Mellon, (7/29/2011, 11:43 AM)

I wonder if this Tank company will continue to use sand for it's blast needs. No one can say they didn't know the risk or that there may be safer products for it's workers health needs than sand or slags. These companies need to wake up.


Comment from Thomas Van Hooser, (7/29/2011, 12:51 PM)

This company obviously has a problem with safety implementation. Obstacles to better performance should be identified and eliminated if management is truly interested in developing a safety culture within their organization. Their efforts remain to be seen.


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