Federal inspection finds West Virginia brick manufacturer exposed workers to respirable crystalline silica hazards at Martinsburg plant
MARTINSBURG, WV – The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration has cited Continental Brick Co. after an investigation found the employer exposed workers to respirable crystalline silica at the company’s brick manufacturing facility in Martinsburg.
On Aug. 16, 2021, OSHA initiated an inspection in response to reports that Continental Brick Co. failed to provide workers with personal protective equipment while working around materials containing silica. The agency determined that the company failed to provide and require employees to wear respirators when working in areas where there was an overexposure to respirable crystalline silica.
OSHA also found the brick manufacturer did not implement adequate engineering and work practice controls, conduct scheduled monitoring, establish regulated decontamination areas or make a medical surveillance program available for employees exposed at or above the action level.
OSHA cited the company for two willful and six serious safety and health violations, and proposed $131,972 in penalties.
“Workers exposed to silica dust can lose their ability to work and to breathe,” said OSHA Area Director Prentice Cline in Charleston, West Virginia. “The Continental Brick Company must implement engineering and work practice controls and require appropriate respiratory protection to ensure workers are fully protected from this deadly hazard.”
Visit OSHA’s crystalline silica webpage for information on protecting workers from the adverse health effects crystalline silica can cause.
The company has 15 business days from receipt of the 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.
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 workers by setting and enforcing standards, and providing training, education and assistance.