The Franklin, Mass., employer was cited for alleged willful, serious and other violations of the Occupational Safety and Health Act at its 210 Grove St. manufacturing plant.
"OSHA's hearing conservation standard requires employers to take effective steps to protect the hearing of workers who are exposed to high noise levels," said Brenda Gordon, OSHA area director for Southeastern Massachusetts. "These include annual audiograms for exposed workers, notifying those employees if testing reveals a deterioration in hearing ability and referring them for appropriate medical evaluation, if needed. These safeguards were not provided for all exposed workers at this plant."
The largest fine, $63,000, was proposed for an alleged willful violation for failing to refer workers for required medical evaluations. OSHA defines a willful violation as one committed with an intentional disregard of, or plain indifference to, the Occupational Safety and Health Act and regulations.
A fine of $24,750 is proposed for five alleged serious violations. Four citations deal with the employer's failure to maintain and monitor all elements of the hearing conservation program, not providing annual audiograms to all affected employees, not notifying all affected employees of test results in a timely manner and not posting the hearing conservation standard.
The fifth citation is for failure to ensure the use of lockout/tagout procedures when workers entered a strapping machine to perform maintenance. A serious violation is one in which there is a substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result, and the employer knew, or should have known, of the hazard.
An additional $2,000 in fines is proposed for two alleged other-than-serious violations for an incomplete illness and injury log and failing to record employees' hearing losses in a timely manner. An other-than-serious violation is one that has a direct relationship to job safety and health, but probably would not cause death or serious physical harm.