US Department of Labor's OSHA cites Piqua Champion Foundry for repeat, serious violations
Workers exposed to dangerous silica dust at Ohio foundry
PIQUA, Ohio Nine employees of Piqua Champion Foundry Inc. were exposed to dangerous levels of silica dust, respiratory hazards and unsafe work conditions while grinding castings and relining a furnace. Silica exposure can cause silicosis, an irreversible lung disease, and other serious health hazards. Following its January 2014 inspection, the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration has cited the company for 20 including seven repeat and 13 serious safety violations carrying proposed penalties of $57,140.
"Occupational exposure to silica dust often occurs as part of common workplace tasks in foundries where operations can result in workers inhaling small crystalline silica particles in the air," said Bill Wilkerson, OSHA's area director in Cincinnati. "Piqua Champion Foundry has a responsibility to give employees the tools and training they need to protect themselves from this debilitating, but common danger. Piqua has repeatedly failed to keep its workers safe, and that is unacceptable."
Most of the repeat citations were issued for failing to meet OSHA's respiratory protection standards. During the inspection, OSHA found that Piqua did not provide medical evaluations for employees using respirators, failed to monitor supplied breathing air for carbon monoxide and did not mark respirators properly that needed new filters. The company was cited for repeatedly failing to develop machine-specific procedures for its electric furnace and mold machines to ensure workers did not face amputation or death when servicing and maintaining machines in use and for not communicating hazards properly during forklift training.
OSHA previously inspected the facility in 2009 and found similar violations. OSHA issues repeat violations if an employer was previously cited for the same or a similar violation of any standard, regulation, rule or order at any other facility in federal enforcement states within the last five years.
Serious violations were cited for exposing workers to silica over the permissible exposure limit for a work shift; failure to implement controls to reduce exposure; and to train workers on silica hazards. Inhalation of small crystalline silica particles puts workers at risk for silicosis, lung cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and kidney disease. Employers can protect workers from dangerous silica dust by providing engineering controls, respiratory protection, training for workers and monitoring exposure levels. Citations were also issued for additional violations of OSHA's respiratory protection standards.
An OSHA violation is serious if death or serious physical harm could result from a hazard an employer knew or should have known exists.
OSHA recently released a proposed rule to protect workers exposed to respirable crystalline silica. OSHA estimates that the proposed rule will save nearly 700 lives and prevent 1,600 new cases of silicosis per year, once the full effect of the rule occurs. Many American families have seen firsthand the tragic result of silicosis. Watch OSHA's new "Deadly Dust" video to learn more about worker stories and how dust control methods can help limit employee exposure to crystalline silica.
Piqua Champion Foundry 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 Cincinnati Area Office at 513-841-4132.
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.