Aluminum Foundry Faces Safety Fines

Wednesday, April 8, 2015 @ 02:04 PM gHale

Workers at Custom Alloy Sales 34P LLC risked exposure to dangerous chlorine gas while forging blocks of metal material at its aluminum foundry in Prescott, KN, because there was no training on how to handle and store the gas, said officials at the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).

Unsafe use of the gas was discovered by OSHA inspectors at Custom Alloy Sales in September after a complaint prompted an inspection. Improperly used, chlorine gas can cause severe respiratory damage, inspectors said.

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Investigators found employees endangered by permit-required confined space hazards while working in foundry furnaces. A confined space is one large enough for workers to enter and perform certain jobs, such as a holding tank, but it has limited or restricted means for entry or exit and not designed for continuous occupancy.

As a result, OSHA issued 31 serious health and safety citations with fines of $160,200. Inspectors determined Custom Alloy Sales failed to train workers on hazardous chemicals used at the foundry; store oxygen and fuel-gas cylinders properly, and protect workers from dangerous machine parts. The agency also found forklifts with defects in use.

“With more than 30 violations, it’s clear that the safety and health of its workers are not priorities at Custom Alloy Sales. Failing to provide training, safety equipment is unacceptable,” said Judy Freeman, OSHA’s area director in Wichita. “The foundry needs to make immediate improvements before tragedy strikes.”

Custom Alloy also failed to conduct audiometric testing; ensure employees wore hearing protection, and to train employees on noise hazards.

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.

Custom Alloy Sales contested the citations and penalties and the case may go before an independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

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