The U.S. Dept. of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration recently cited Franklin Non-Ferrous Foundry Inc. for four alleged willful and serious violations of workplace health and safety standards. The Franklin, NH, brass/bronze and aluminum sand-casting foundry has a history of citations from OSHA, specifically a series of 17 charges in 2009 for “inadequate or absent protections for workers whose duties expose them to airborne concentrations of lead."
Franklin Non-Ferrous Foundry casts brass, bronze, and aluminum alloys into products ranging from 4 oz. up to 230 lb (for bronze; up to 80 lb for aluminum.)
The current charges also concern workers’ exposure to lead. The foundry now faces fines up to $185,900 following an OSHA inspection that began in January to verify the abatement of those 2009 hazards.
The current violations led the agency to place Franklin Non-Ferrous Foundry Inc. in its Severe Violator Enforcement Program, which mandates targeted follow-up inspections to ensure compliance with the law. The program deals with “recalcitrant employers that endanger workers by committing willful, repeat or failure-to-abate violations.”
According to OSHA, Franklin Non-Ferrous will contest the citations and proposed penalties to the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.
In the recent inspection, OSHA discovered two employees were exposed to excessive levels of lead during metalcasting. It also noted an insufficient level of engineering controls to reduce lead-exposure levels. Further, it alleges that the management at Franklin Non-Ferrous Foundry failed to conduct additional lead exposure monitoring when alloys with higher lead content were used, and that the ventilation system was not working. In addition, OSHA said the management failed to measure the ventilation system regularly, to gauge its effectiveness for controlling lead exposure, and respirators were not used when required.
As a result of these conditions, OSHA issued citations for three willful violations, carrying proposed penalties of $181,500. A willful violation is one committed with knowledge of or voluntary disregard for the law's requirements, or with indifference to workers’ safety and health.
A citation with a $4,400 fine was issued for one serious violation involving employees being overexposed to airborne copper fumes during pouring, and a lack of controls to reduce the exposure level. A serious violation occurs when there is substantial probability that death or serious physical harm may result from a hazard that the employer knew or should have known existed.
"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," stated OSHA’s New Hampshire area director Rosemarie Ohar. "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."