OSHA Cites New Hampshire Foundry for Willfully Exposing Workers to Lead Hazards

Aug. 15, 2012
Franklin Non-Ferrous Foundry, which has a long violation history with OSHA, faces nearly $186,000 in fines for four alleged willful and serious violations of workplace health and safety standards, chiefly involving a failure to protect workers from exposure to lead.

Franklin Non-Ferrous Foundry, located in Franklin, N.H., faces a total of $185,900 in proposed OSHA fines following an inspection by OSHA's Concord Area Office that was opened in January to verify the abatement of hazards cited by the agency in 2009.

"This employer is well aware of the necessary procedures to safeguard workers against lead exposure hazards, having been cited for 62 violations of OSHA's lead standard since 1998, yet has chosen again to disregard them," said Rosemarie Ohar, OSHA's area director in New Hampshire. "The sizable fines proposed here reflect not only the severity of these hazards but this employer's clear knowledge of and failure to address them."

This most recent inspection found two employees exposed to excessive levels of lead during foundry operations as well as a lack of sufficient engineering controls to reduce lead exposure levels. Management also failed to conduct additional lead exposure monitoring when alloys with higher lead content were used and the ventilation system was not working. In addition, management failed to regularly measure the ventilation system to gauge its effectiveness in controlling lead exposure, and respirators were not used when required.

These conditions led to OSHA issuing citations with $181,500 in proposed penalties for three willful violations. A willful violation is one committed with intentional knowing or voluntary disregard for the law's requirements, or with plain indifference to worker safety and health.
A citation with a $4,400 fine has been issued for one serious violation involving employees being overexposed to airborne copper fumes during pouring operations and a lack of controls to reduce the exposure level. A serious violation occurs when there is substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result from a hazard about which the employer knew or should have known.

OSHA has placed Franklin Non-Ferrous Foundry Inc. in the agency's Severe Violator Enforcement Program, which mandates targeted follow-up inspections to ensure compliance with the law. The program focuses on recalcitrant employers that endanger workers by committing willful, repeat or failure-to-abate violations.

Franklin Non-Ferrous Foundry Inc. is contesting its citations and proposed penalties with the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

About the Author

Sandy Smith

Sandy Smith is the former content director of EHS Today, and is currently the EHSQ content & community lead at Intelex Technologies Inc. She has written about occupational safety and health and environmental issues since 1990.

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