A longtime Wisconsin painting and blasting contractor is facing 42 federal citations and $50,140 in fines for a wide variety of health and safety violations, including some first cited in 2007.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s lengthy list of infractions involving Neman Painting & Sandblasting LLC, of Waukesha, WI, includes repeat respirator violations; 14 serious ventilation, hearing protection, machine guarding and training violations; and two dozen other infractions that include slip hazards, record-keeping and sanitation issues, and broken and missing signs.
Neman Painting & Sandblasting
|The company was cited again for respirator and other hazards involving both its blasting (left) and painting operations.|
“This company has a responsibility to ensure that its workers are safeguarded from hazards associated with blasting and painting metal operations by providing hearing and respiratory protection, as well as following all relevant OSHA standards,” said George Yoksas, OSHA’s area director in Milwaukee.
More than 25 years old, Neman specializes in blasting, preparing and painting metal parts. The company did not respond Thursday (Nov. 3) to a request for comment.
Company owner Larry Neman said in an interview Friday that he would challenge the citations.
He said the inspection, which involved two OSHA employees probing his site for an entire week, had turned up nothing substantive in his primary business operations.
“There were no issues about my paint booth and my blasting; mostly it’s about my building,” he said. “Stairs, railings, my mezzanine—goofy stuff like that, that has nothing to do with painting and sandblasting.
“It’s all got to do with building codes.”
Neman said the unplanned inspection had been triggered by a disgruntled former employee who had wanted a day’s unemployment. “I should’ve paid him the $70,” he said.
Neman, who has just three employees in the paint and blasting shop, called the OSHA fine excessive.
“There should be a limit on that. I mean, do the math. How long is it going to take me to make $45,000?”
The most serious citations against Neman are four repeat health violations for hazards that the company was cited for in 2007.
Those citations, involving a 2006 inspection, allege failure to:
• Write and implement a respirator program for employees using respirators for preparation, painting and blasting operations;
• Perform medical evaluations for employees using respirators;
• Develop and implement a hazard communication program; and
• Properly label containers containing hazardous chemicals.
A repeat violation exists when an employer has been cited for the same or similar violation within five years.
In 2007, OSHA issued 15 serious and five other-than-serious citations against Neman, proposing $8,818 in fines. The case was reduced to six serious and six other-than-serious violations and closed in 2008 with a fine of $2,762.50.
Eight new serious safety violations allege failure to:
• Provide machine guarding;
• Provide adequate guardrails;
• Develop a lockout/tagout program for energy sources;
• Train workers on lockout/tagout procedures;
• Develop machine-specific energy control procedures; and
• Train forklift drivers.
Six new serious health violations allege failure to:
• Provide a hearing conservation program;
• Train workers on a hazard communication program;
• Correct broken light panels on the spray booth;
• Repair a damaged emergency eye wash station; and
• Ensure adequate air flow in the paint booth.
A serious violation involves “substantial probability” of death or serious from a hazard about which the employer knew or should have known.
Fifteen new other-than-serious safety violations include:
• Failure to maintain sanitary and clean conditions;
• Failure to provide several floor rating signs and replace burned-out exit signs;
• Modifying forklifts without the manufacturer’s approval; and
• Failure to annually inspect fire extinguishers and train workers in their use.
Nine new other-than-serious health violations include:
• Failure to maintain employee monitoring records;
• Failure to perform and document a personal protective equipment hazard assessment; and
• Allowing aluminum oxide dust to accumulate, creating a slipping hazard.
The company has 15 business days from receipt of the citations to comply with or contest them.
Said Yoksas: “Employers must know the hazards that exist at their facilities and then take appropriate measures to protect workers’ health and safety.”