All the money in the world can''t buy a good safety program. Just ask officials at the U.S. Mint''s coin-making facility in Philadelphia.
Yesterday''s edition of the Philadelphia Inquirer reports that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) found 47 serious health and safety violations at the facility. A serious violation is one in which there is a substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result and that the employer knew or should have known of the hazard.
Officials at the mint were presented with a draft report this week for an OSHA inspection that was conducted between January and June of 2001. OSHA has already determined that the two coin-making facilities - the one in Philadelphia and another in Denver - are two of the most dangerous federal worksites. Some 650 employees work at the Philadelphia facility.
Mint officials claim that their facilities, where coins are stamped out of metal blanks by huge presses, are inherently more dangerous than other facilities, more closely resemble traditional manufacturing facilities than other federal worksites, which tend to have more of an office environment.
The Inquirer article quotes U.S. Mint spokesman Michael White as saying the mint is "committed to protecting and maintaining the health and safety of its workforce," with White adding that most of the violations have been addressed and many corrected.
Union officials, however, claim the mint has failed to correct the violations and that employees continue to suffer significant injuries. In January, for example, an employee suffered two crushed fingers. Still other employees report injuries caused by heavy lifting, slips, forklift accidents and welding flash.
Labor Department spokeswoman Kate Dugan said the violations should be made public in about a week.
by Sandy Smith ([email protected])