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OSHA Cites Wisconsin Brass Foundry

Feb. 16, 2012
Dust exposure, other violations at Fall River Foundry discovered via National Emphasis Program

Fall River Foundry in Fall River, WI, has been cited by the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration for 10 safety violations, including three repeat violations, which OSHA said it discovered as a result of its National Emphasis Program for Primary Metal Industries. OSHA claimed Fall River Foundry failed to protect workers from exposure to metal dust, and it proposed fines amounting to $57,600.

Fall River Foundry is a green sand operation that produces nonferrous castings and brass diecastings, up to 600 lb.

Per OSHA regulations, the company was granted 15 days from receipt of the citations and penalties to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA's area director or contest the findings before the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

OSHA started its investigation at Fall River Foundry on August 25, 2011, operating under the National Emphasis Program for Primary Metal Industries established last May to locate and reduce worker exposure to harmful chemical and physical hazards in plants producing metal products.

Fall River Foundry’s three repeat violations concern workers being exposed to levels of copper and lead dust that exceed permissible exposure limits; and failing to implement sufficient engineering controls to reduce copper and lead dust exposure.

The foundry was cited for these violations in 2009 and 2010, too. Fall River Foundry had been inspected by OSHA eight times since 1987, resulting in 28 citations for violations.

OSHA issues a repeat violation when an employer has been cited previously for the same or a similar violation of a standard, regulation, rule or order at any other facility in federal enforcement states within the preceding five years.

Seven other serious violations were issued to Fall River Foundry, including failing to provide annual respirator fit tests; to maintain eating areas free of metal dust; to require workers to remove clothing with possible metal-dust contamination prior to taking lunch breaks; and to provide forklift training.

OSHA identifies a serious violation as one from which “a substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result,” and about which the employer knew or should have known.

Several of the violations at Fall River Foundry relate to OSHA's lead standard. These include failing to provide sufficient engineering controls to reduce lead exposure; provide warning signs in areas where lead is present; and train workers on the hazards of silica, a component of lead.

"Failing to ensure workers do not exceed permissible exposure limits to metal dust puts them at unnecessary risk of respiratory illnesses and complications," stated OSHA area director Kim Stille. "Employers are responsible for knowing the hazards that exist in their facilities and taking precautions to keep workplaces safe and healthful."