US Department of Labor's OSHA proposes $77,472 in fines for Beck Aluminum
Alloys after worker exposed to chlorine gas at smelting plant
RACINE, Wis. Beck Aluminum Alloys Ltd., which operates Beck Aluminum Racine, has been cited by the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration for 13 serious violations, carrying proposed penalties of $77,472. OSHA initiated an inspection of the Racine aluminum plant in September 2013 after receiving a referral that a worker was sickened by exposure to hazardous chlorine gas while changing cylinders. The inspection also found that company officials did not remove other workers from the area after exposure to the gas was known and failed to evaluate the danger to life and health.
"Employers have a responsibility to provide workers with proper training and to implement procedures that protect employees from chemical hazards in the workplace," said Christine Zortman, OSHA's area director in Milwaukee. "It's unacceptable that Beck Aluminum Racine failed to develop safety procedures to prevent the release of chlorine gas during maintenance. When a release of chlorine gas occurred, the company failed to remove employees immediately from potential exposure. This can cause severe health issues related to the skin and the respiratory and central nervous systems. Exposure to high concentrations can result in death."
Thirteen serious violations were issued. The company was cited for failing to establish lockout/tagout procedures to prevent the inadvertent release of chemical energy; an inability to estimate employee exposure during a chlorine release; failing to provide training to employees performing emergency response procedures; lack of annual inspections of energy control procedures; and stacking large totes of crushed aluminum casts in an unstable manner.
Six of the citations involve violations of OSHA's respiratory protection standards, such as not having a written respiratory protection program, failing to medically evaluate workers required to use a respirator and not providing adequate training.
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.
Beck Aluminum Alloys Ltd. has headquarters in Mayfield Heights, Ohio, and employs about 115 workers nationwide. Beck Aluminum Racine employs about 40 workers.
The company has 15 business days from receipt of its citations and penalties to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA's area director, or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.
To ask questions, obtain compliance assistance, file a complaint, or report workplace hospitalizations, fatalities or situations posing imminent danger to workers, the public should call OSHA's toll-free hotline at 800-321-OSHA (6742) or the agency's Milwaukee office at 414-297-3315.
Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their employees. OSHA's role is to ensure these conditions for America's working men and women by setting and enforcing standards, and providing training, education and assistance. For more information, visit http://www.osha.gov.