Cited dozens of times since 1998 for federal lead violations, a New England foundry is now shouldering a new case that carries a $185,900 price tag.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has cited Franklin Non-Ferrous Foundry Inc., of Franklin, NH, with four alleged willful and serious violations of workplace standards, mainly involving failure to protect workers from exposure to lead.
OSHA has proposed $185,900 in total fines for the citations, which followed an inspection conducted earlier this year to verify the abatement of hazards cited in 2009.
The company, which provides brass, bronze, and aluminum sand casting, did not respond to a request for comment but is contesting the new citations, according to OSHA.
3 Willful Violations
In the new case, OSHA issued three citations for willful violations involving excessive lead exposure. Those violations carry $181,500 in proposed fines.
OSHA said its most recent inspection found two employees exposed to excessive levels of lead during foundry operations and lack of sufficient engineering controls to reduce lead exposure levels. OSHA also said that the management had failed to conduct additional lead exposure monitoring when alloys with higher lead content were used and when the ventilation system was not working.
In addition, OSHA said, management failed to regularly measure the ventilation system to gauge its effectiveness in controlling lead exposure, and respirators were not used when required.
A willful violation—OSHA’s highest level of infraction—is one committed with intentional knowing or voluntary disregard for the law’s requirements, or with plain indifference to worker safety and health.
OSHA also issued a citation with a $4,400 fine for one serious violation involving employees being overexposed to airborne copper fumes during pouring operations and a lack of controls to reduce the exposure level. A serious violation reflects “substantial probability” of death or serious injury from a hazard about which the employer knew or should have known.
The foundry has a record with OSHA dating back years. Twenty-two citations were resolved in 2003 and 2004. OSHA records still show open cases from September 2005 (21 violations), February 2007 (five violations), April 2009 (20 violations), and January 2012 (four violations).
That record has landed the company in OSHA’s Severe Violator Enforcement Program, which mandates targeted follow-up inspections to ensure compliance with the law. The program focuses on recalcitrant employers that endanger workers by committing willful, repeat or failure-to-abate violations.
“This employer is well aware of the necessary procedures to safeguard workers against lead exposure hazards, having been cited for 62 violations of OSHA’s lead standard since 1998, yet has chosen again to disregard them,” said Rosemarie Ohar, OSHA’s area director in New Hampshire. “The sizable fines proposed here reflect not only the severity of these hazards but this employer’s clear knowledge of and failure to address them.”