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Coating Facility Hit With Repeat Fines

Friday, April 5, 2013

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A Georgia industrial coatings contractor is facing repeated federal safety violations for allegedly allowing painters to be exposed to—and eat in areas laced with—hexavalent chromium.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration cited Aerospace Defense Coatings on Tuesday (April 2) with three violations, one willful and two repeat, after a follow-up inspection of its Macon, GA, facility found several of the same violations that the company was cited for in 2010.

The proposed fines total $83,160.

In 2010, the company received 17 citations, totaling $300,400 in fines, alleging chemical overexposures, lack of protection, and other violations.

Aerospace Defense Coatings of Georgia
Aerospace Defense Coatings of Georgia

Aerospace Defense Coatings faces one willful and two repeat violations, following a similar OSHA case that triggered $300,000 in fines in 2010.

"Aerospace Defense Coatings of Georgia was previously cited for the same violations and has failed to take action to protect workers from the hazards associated with hexavalent chromium exposure," said Nadira Janack, assistant area director of OSHA's Atlanta-East Area Office.

"Management needs to take immediate action to eliminate these hazards from the workplace," said Janack.

The company has 15 business days to contest OSHA's findings.

No one from Aerospace Defense Coatings of Georgia was available to comment on Thursday (April 4).

Car, Clothes and Food Exposed

The company provides painting, shot peening, abrasive blast cleaning, non-destructive testing and other metal finishing services. The company has been in business for more than 50 years and says it is an approved contractor for more than 250 companies.

The willful violation—OSHA's highest level of infraction—alleges that the company failed to provide change rooms where workers operate with hexavalent chromium. A willful violation is one committed with disregard for the law's requirements or plain indifference to worker safety, according to OSHA.

According to the citation, workers from four paint booths in two different buildings had clothing contaminated with hexavalent chromium levels ranging from 0.1615 to 0.5093 micrograms after performing spraying operations.

Defense Aerospace Coatings
Aerospace Defense Coatings of Georgia

Workers from four paint booths in two  buildings were found to be wearing contaminated clothing, OSHA said.

An additional sample from an employees' car steering wheel and interior door handle showed levels at 0.1412 micrograms.

The violation carries a proposed penalty of $61,600.

Two repeat violations allege that workers were allowed to eat where hexavalent chromium was present and were exposed to airborne concentrations of hexavalent chromium. OSHA defines a repeat violation as one that an employer has been cited for within the last five years.

"Employees were allowed to consume food or beverages at a worksite where chromium (VI) was present; however, the employer did not ensure that the eating and drinking areas were maintained as free as practical from chromium (VI)," the citation stated.

The repeat violations carry $21,560 in proposed penalties.

Hexavalent Chromium Risks

Many hexavalent chromium compounds are used in industrial applications, including chromate pigments in dyes, paints, inks, and plastics; chromates added as anticorrosive agents to paints, primers, and other surface coatings; and chromic acid used to electroplate chromium onto metal parts to provide a decorative or protective coating.

hexavalent chromium

Employees were allowed to eat where hexavalent chromium was present; one worker's steering wheel tested for levels of the carcinogen, OSHA alleges.

Inhalation exposures of the toxic compounds increase the risk of lung cancer, according to OSHA. Other problems associated with exposure include airway sensitizations, asthma, skin sensitizations, nasal and skin ulcerations, and eye irritation.

In February 2010, OSHA launched a National Emphasis Program targeting hexavalent chromium.

2010 Citations

In May 2010, OSHA conducted an inspection at Aerospace Defense Coatings of Georgia after receiving a complaint about personal protective equipment and the handling, storing, and disposing of chemicals. Inspections were conducted at all three of the company's plants.

The company was accused of four willful violations, eight repeat violations, and seven serious violations.

An OSHA spokesman said Friday (April 5) that the 2010 case remained open "due to payment and abatement."

This story was updated on April 5, 2013, at 2:05 p.m. ET.


Tagged categories: Abrasive blasting; Enforcement; Industrial Contractors; Laboratory testing; OSHA; Violations

Comment from Kevin Ralston, (4/5/2013, 9:27 AM)

There is no justifiable reason for the company not addressing these safety issues. A severe fine is in order. It is clear that Aerospace Defense Coatings does NOT place a high value on the long term health of its' employees. Sad.

Comment from Anna Jolly, (4/5/2013, 1:47 PM)

They probably think that they are being picked on unfairly.

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