OSHA Cites Excelsior Brass

Sept. 7, 2010
Penn. brass foundry faces $550,400 fine for lead exposure, other hazards

The federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration has issued citations to Kief Industries Inc. alleging that the Pennsylvania brass and bronze foundry knowingly exposed workers to lead hazards and violated federal workplace safety and health standards. OSHA has proposed penalties totaling $550,400 for the company, which does business as Excelsior Brass Works and produced pressure-tight bronze and brass castings for pump bodies, impellers, electrical boxes, flow meters, heat exchangers, and valves for air, fluid handling and marine applications.

OSHA cited Excelsior Brass Works for several willful and serious violations of the lead standard, which requires employers to protect their workers from lead exposure.

“The employer deliberately refused to protect workers from overexposure to lead and other workplace hazards,” stated said asst. Secretary of Labor for OSHA Dr. David Michaels. “Even though company management knew of the OSHA requirements and the workers’ lead exposures, it failed to provide medical surveillance to monitor worker health and to train its workers about lead-exposure risks.”

“Willful” violations, by OSHA’s standard, are those committed with “intentional, knowing or voluntary disregard for legal requirements, or plain indifference to employee safety and health.” In this case, the willful violations involve OSHA’s allegation that Excelsior did not take air samples as required for workers who were over-exposed to airborne lead, and did not provide the required annual training about lead-exposure hazards.

Also in this case, the “willful” citations concern allegations that the company failed to provide the required medical surveillance for the lead-exposed workers and to make available the results of medical tests performed after OSHA came to the facility and opened the inspection. An additional willful violation alleges that the company stopped providing hearing tests to employees over-exposed to noise.

“Serious” citations in this case involve allegations that Excelsior failed to install additional engineering controls; to have an updated, written lead compliance program; to store lead-contaminated clothing in a closed container; to maintain surfaces like microwaves and lunchroom floors free of lead dust; to vacuum clothes to remove lead dust before entering the lunchroom; to provide medical exams to employees with high blood-lead levels; and to maintain proper air sampling records.

Other serious citations allege that the employer failed to install engineering controls for noise; establish a written respirator program; to provide respirator fit-tests; and establish a program with procedures to shut down and lock out hazardous energy sources before servicing and maintaining machines. OSHA issues a serious citation when there is substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result and the employer knew, or should have known, of the hazard.

Two other-than-serious violations, accounting for $1,200 of the total penalties, allege recordkeeping deficiencies.

The company was given 15 business days from the receipt of the citations to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA’s area director, or contest the citations and proposed penalties before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.