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Fabricator Paint Shop Draws $134K Fine

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

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An Ohio structural steel fabricator is facing 17 federal health and safety citations and $134,400 in fines for recurring hazards in painting and other operations at its facility in Akron.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has issued a variety of safety and health citations to Steel Structures of Ohio LLC, including one willful safety violation for crane operations and several repeat violations related to its painting operations.

The company did not respond Wednesday (Oct. 19) to a request for comment.

Willful Violation

The willful safety violation was for allegedly failing to remove a 10-ton crane that needed repair from service in the paint shop. According to OSHA documents, an outside inspector noted several deficiencies on the crane, including missing bolts and a cover rubbing against the hoisting ropes, on March 19, 2010. The crane was still in use with the same problems when OSHA inspected on April 13, 2011.

 Respirator fit testing

 OSHA

OSHA requires respirator fit-testing and medical evaluations for workers who must wear respirators. Steel Structures of Ohio is accused of violating these standards.

That violation carries a $49,000 fine. A willful violation is one committed with intentional, knowing or voluntary disregard for the law’s requirement, or plain indifference to employee safety and health.

Repeat Violations: Painting

The citations also include several repeat violations in the painting area. OSHA noted that these or equivalent violations had been cited on a previous inspection of the facility and affirmed Dec. 23, 2009.

The repeat violations, which carry a total of $63,000 in fines, include:

• Storing 675 gallons of waste paint, solvents and other flammable and combustible liquids out in the open in the spray painting area, rather than in storage rooms or storage cabinets;

• Transferring contaminated paint thinner, macro epoxy and other flammable and combustible liquids for use in spraying operations between containers without grounding the containers to prevent discharge sparks of static electricity;

• Allowing combustible residue from paint overspray to accumulate on beams used to support parts for painting throughout the spray area;

• Failing to medically evaluate painters and other employees for their ability to use a respirator before requiring them to use one;

• Failing to fit-test respirators for employees required to use them;

• Failing to train painters and other employees in respirator use; and

• Failing to  develop, implement, and/or maintain a written hazard communication program for employees who work with epoxy paint, napthalene, acetone, Reducer No.15, propane, welding fumes, and other hazardous materials.

A repeat violation exists when an employer previously has been cited for the same or a similar violation within five years.

“Employers who are cited for repeat violations demonstrate a lack of commitment to workplace safety and health,” said Howard Eberts, OSHA’s area director in Cleveland.

Serious Violations

Seven serious violations—those that carry “substantial probability” of causing death or serious injury—also reached into the painting operation. The serious violations include:

• Failing to physically separate spray painting activities from electrical boxes;

• Failing to provide an exhaust or ventilation system in a spray paint room;

• Improperly stored respirators in the painting department;

• Lack of a hazard assessment to determine the use of personal protective equipment for painters and others working with napthalene, epoxy paint, acetone, and Reducer No. 15; and

• Lack of protection around a light fixture in the painting area.

The investigation was conducted under the requirements of OSHA’s Severe Violators Enforcement Program, which focuses on “recalcitrant employers that endanger workers by committing willful, repeat or failure-to-abate violations,” according to the agency.

Said Eberts: “Employers have a responsibility to maintain safe working environments. OSHA is committed to protecting workers, especially when employers fail to do so.”

   

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

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