Coating Operation Fined $341K
Workers repeatedly inhaled, absorbed and even ingested toxic hexavalent chromium through a variety of coating tasks at an Oklahoma contractor, federal authorities are alleging.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has cited Pride Plating Inc. of Grove, OK, with 38 violations—including nine repeat violations—and fined the company $341,550.
“The chromium standard addresses exposure. OSHA has documented and cited three routes of exposure in this case,” said David Bates, OSHA’s area director in Oklahoma City. “At Pride Plating, workers were exposed to hexavalent chromium through spray painting and dip tank operations, and in the lunchroom and smoking areas.”
Hexavalent chromium is a carcinogen commonly used in industrial processes, anticorrosives, and protective paints and coatings. Health effects range from skin irritation to lung cancer.
OSHA offers guidance on "Controlling Exposure to Hexavalent Chromium in Aerospace and Air Transport Painting" and issued detailed standards and practices for hexavalent chromium in 2009.
75 Pages of Citations
The 75 pages of health and safety citations detail a broad and lengthy list of violations, from using electrical equipment unapproved for flammable environments; to spray booth violations; to lack of first aid supplies, eye-wash and shower stations, respirators and other protective equipment.
Pride Plating did not respond Monday (Sept. 8) to a request for comment.
OSHA offers guidance on "Controlling Exposure to Hexavalent Chromium in Aerospace and Air Transport Painting" on its website. The chemical is a carcinogen.
The company provides aluminum, titanium and steel processing, painting, testing, engineering, assembly and shot peening services for military and other clients at its 140,000-square-foot facility.
Nine repeat citations, with a penalty of $180,180, related primarily to chromium violations, including failure to:
A repeat violation exists when an employer has been cited for the same or a similar violation in federal enforcement states within the last five years. Pride Plating was cited for similar violations in 2009.
Twenty-eight serious citations include failure to:
The company provides processing, painting, testing, engineering, assembly and shot peening services.
Respiratory violations included failing to implement a respiratory program and fit test and ensure respirators were stored in a sanitary location. In multiple instances, respirators were found hanging or sitting unprotected in spray booths between uses.
Chromium violations included failure to inform workers of their exposure records, monitor or control exposures, provide adequate washing facilities, have employees wash their hands after a shift, and label hazardous chemical and chemical-waste containers.
Abrasive-blasting violations included failure to determine lead and cadmium exposures.
The company also allowed employees to wear their protective clothing and footwear (worn during chromate-containing coating spraying) during breaks, OSHA said.
A serious violation reflects "substantial probability" of death or serious physical harm from a hazard about which the employer knew or should have known.
Pride Plating, which employs about 110 workers in Grove, has 15 business days from receipt of its citations to respond to them.