A Missouri foundry, its owner, and three representatives of an independent safety-consulting company have been found in criminal contempt by a federal judge for refusing access to the site by U.S. Department of Labor Occupational Safety and Health Administration inspectors. Martin Foundry Co. Inc., owner Darrell Stone and representatives of Compliance Professionals Inc. admitted they disobeyed an administrative search warrant issued by Magistrate Judge John T. Maughmer on April 6 and instructing them to cooperate with OSHA.
Martin Foundry Co. in Kansas City offers short-run or large-volume production of brass and aluminum sand castings up to 150 lb., with design and prototyping as well as casting and finishing capabilities.
Compliance Professionals Inc., also in Kansas City, is an independent consulting group that develops customized safety-compliance plans for businesses, conducts training, manages inspection schedules, and performs other services to maintain certification for workplaces.
As explained by OSHA in a release, OSHA investigators attempted to inspect the foundry on March 27, following a report by the Missouri Department of Health that an employee there had an elevated blood lead level.
OSHA provided no details of the inspector’s discovery or the worker’s condition.
Workers exposure to high levels of lead may suffer anemia, weakness, and kidney and brain damage, according to OSHA. Occupational exposure to lead, asbestos, and other substances is indicated in the deaths of more than 50,000 U.S. citizens annually, the agency claimed.
OSHA explained that the foundry refused inspectors’ access, leading the agency to obtain a warrant and return April 7 to complete the inspection.
The statement continued to detail that, on the later date, the foundry owner and Compliance Professionals Inc. represented once more denied the access, in violation of the warrant. OSHA inspectors returned later that day with U.S. marshals to enforce the warrant, and the foundry and its consultants “persisted in obstructing OSHA's investigators after the U.S. marshals left the workplace. OSHA was only able to complete the inspection after U.S. Departments of Labor and Justice attorneys initiated contempt proceedings,” OSHA stated.
The U.S. District Court in Kansas City ordered the defendants to jointly pay $10,778 to reimburse departmental costs. In addition, Martin Foundry and its owner are each liable for $1,000 in fines for their failure to cooperate. Each of the three consultants will pay fines of $2,000, based on the court’s finding that they willfully impeded OSHA's investigation and refused to comply with the warrant.
"We are pleased that the courts put the workers' welfare first by enforcing the warrant requiring the employer to allow OSHA to inspect the foundry," stated OSHA’s Kansas City regional administrator Marcia Drumm.