Foundry Fatality Brings Fines

Tuesday, November 11, 2014 @ 02:11 PM gHale

Bremer Manufacturing Co. Inc. is facing one willful, one repeat and one serious health violation after the death of a 55-year-old worker who worked with resin-containing isocyanates on the sand molding line at the Elkhart Lake, WI, foundry, said officials at the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).

Following an inspection looking into the death of the employee who had been with the company for 38 years, OSHA found the firm failed to train workers on the physical and health hazards of chemicals in the workplace. OSHA has proposed fines of $81,900.

Bremer Manufacturing Co., an aluminum castings manufacturer, employs 100 workers.

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“This inspection focused on employees who work with hazardous chemicals including a resin-containing isocyanates, which can cause employee sensitization. Isocyanates can cause chest tightness, trouble breathing and irritation to the lungs, eyes, nose, throat and skin. Even when exposure limits are below permissible levels, workers can experience health consequences, especially if they have other health risks and are exposed to chemicals on a routine basis,” said Robert Bonack, OSHA’s area director in Appleton. “Employers have a responsibility to train workers on the physical and health hazards of working with chemicals.”

OSHA cited one willful violation for failing to train workers in chemical hazards, as outlined under the National Emphasis Program for Occupational Exposure to Isocyanates. Isocyanates are the raw materials that make up all polyurethane products. Jobs that may involve exposure to isocyanates include painting, foam-blowing and the manufacture of many polyurethane products, such as chemicals, insulation materials, surface coatings and adhesives. A willful violation is one committed with intentional, knowing or voluntary disregard for the law’s requirement, or with plain indifference to employee safety and health.

A repeat violation was for failing to train employees assigned to work with formaldehyde on the chemical’s physical and health hazards. The company faced previous citations for this violation in 2010 at the same facility. A repeat violation exists when an employer previously faced citations for the same or a similar violation of a standard, regulation, rule or order at any other facility in federal enforcement states within the last five years.

The company also failed to establish a written respiratory protection program, which is a serious violation of OSHA standards. A serious violation occurs when there is a substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result from a hazard about which the employer knew or should have known.

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