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Silica, Cr(VI) Trigger OSHA Case

Thursday, April 26, 2012

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Excessive silica and hexavalent chromium exposures to abrasive blasters and painters lead a lengthy list of federal health and safety violations against an Alabama tank and pressure vessel maker that also provides coating, welding and other services.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration cited S & K Machineworks & Fabrication Co. Inc. for 17 violations following two inspections at the company’s plant in Theodore, AL.

 S&K Machineworks

 S&K Machineworks

S&K fabricates and services storage tanks and pressure vessels for the oil and gas, marine, petrochem, power and energy and general construction markets.

OSHA initially conducted a planned safety inspection at the facility in December 2011 as part of its emphasis programs on preventing amputations and injuries related to powered industrial trucks.

That inspection triggered a health inspection, however, when inspectors spotted the hexavalent chromium and silica issues. Ultimately, the health violations accounted for the majority of the case. Proposed penalties total $50,645.

Serious Violations

The facility drew 11 serious health violations—meaning the hazards carried “substantial probability” of death or serious injury—and $43,400 in fines for painters', blasters' and welders' exposure to hexavalent chromium and silica, both of which can cause irreversible health problems.

OSHA said the company also lacked both an effective hearing conservation program and respiratory protection program.

S&K was also cited for three serious safety violations, with $6,545 in fines, for:

• Floor openings that risked fall hazards;

• Lack of machine safety guards on an abrasive wheel; and

• Unused openings in cabinets, boxes and fittings that exposed workers to electrical hazards.

Three “other-than-serious” violations were also issued, alleging:

• Failure to maintain  a complete log of injuries and illnesses, a violation that carries a $700 fine; and

• Use of an improper electrical conductor and of a pressure vessel in the abrasive blasting yard that was missing the proper markings and pressure gauge. No fines were issued for these allegations.

“Companies must protect employees from both immediate and long-term hazards,” said Joseph Roesler, OSHA's area director in Mobile. “Employers need to take proactive measures to prevent exposure to hazards, rather than wait for an OSHA inspection.”

About the Company

S&K fabricates and services storage tanks and pressure vessels for the oil and gas, marine, petrochem, power and energy and general construction markets. In 2009, the company bought Coastal Fabrications Inc.

The company did not respond Thursday to a request for comment. S&K has 15 business days from receipt of the citations to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA, or contest the citations.


Tagged categories: Citations; Exposure conditions; Health and safety; Hexavalent chromium; OSHA; Silica; Tanks and vessels

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