Repeat Safety Fines for WI Slag Plant

Thursday, March 5, 2015 @ 04:03 PM gHale

Two years after pledging to address health and safety violations in a corporate settlement agreement where workers ended up exposed to serious machine, fall and respiratory hazards at its facilities around the country, U.S. Minerals Inc. employees in Roberts, WI, continued to face the the same hazards after a September inspection, said officials at the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).

U.S. Minerals received four repeated, three serious and two other-than-serious violations at the coal slag facility and faces proposed penalties of $113,300.

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“U.S. Minerals continues to demonstrate that the safety and health of its workers is not a corporate priority,” said Mark Hysell, area director of OSHA’s Eau Claire, WI, office. “This inspection demonstrates that the company has failed to meet the goals outlined in the 2012 agreement. This is a disheartening setback for worker safety at this company.”

OSHA’s investigation found workers endangered by amputation and crushing hazards at a conveyor and while clearing pallet jams and debris from a pallet elevator because proper safety mechanisms and procedures to power down machines fully during maintenance did not end up implemented. Workers also expected to unclog a chute at a height of about 25 feet without adequate fall protection systems in place. This inspection resulted in four repeated violations. Fall and machine hazards are the most frequently cited OSHA standards.

In addition, a known carcinogen, hexavalent chromium, was in eating areas. In addition, employees did not receive training on hazardous chemicals in their workplace and their potential health effects, and protective measures to to avoid overexposure. U.S. Minerals also failed to develop procedures for summoning rescue and emergency services and used fiberglass self-supporting ladders inappropriately.

U.S. Minerals received citations for similar violations at its facilities in Baldwin, IL, and Harvey, LA, in 2012. OSHA issues repeated violations if an employer faced previous citations 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.

Three serious violations also ended up issued. 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 inspectors also found exits blocked by large pallets of materials and powered industrial trucks ended up unattended while being filled with materials, exposing workers to struck-by hazards. Two other-than-serious violations also ended up issued.

Headquartered in Dyer, IN, U.S. Minerals manufactures abrasive blasting and roofing materials from slag produced at coal-fired power plants.

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