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OSHA proposes $254,000 in fines for lead hazards at Franklin, N.H., foundry (10/29)

October 29, 2009
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OSHA has cited Franklin Non-Ferrous Foundry Inc. for 17 alleged willful and serious violations of workplace health and safety standards. The Franklin, N.H., foundry faces a total of $254,000 in fines following comprehensive OSHA inspections begun in April.

"Chief among the hazards identified in the foundry are inadequate or absent protections for workers whose duties expose them to airborne concentrations of lead," said Rosemarie Ohar, OSHA's area director in New Hampshire. "Lead is a subtle and insidious hazard that can seriously damage the blood-forming, nervous, urinary and reproductive systems. This reality makes it imperative that employers monitor their workers' lead exposure levels, provide effective respiratory protection and promptly remove workers from exposure when necessary."

OSHA determined that the foundry did not provide the required biological monitoring for workers exposed to lead in the course of their duties, and did not properly fit-test and ensure adequate respiratory protection for those workers. In addition, it did not provide required benefits for a worker who was medically removed from work due to lead overexposure.

The foundry has been cited several times over the past decade for similar violations. These latest conditions resulted in OSHA issuing three willful citations with $210,000 in proposed fines. OSHA defines a willful violation as one committed with plain indifference to or intentional disregard for employee safety and health.

"The sizable fines proposed in this case reflect the fact that this employer well knows these safeguards are required to protect the health of its workers, yet has repeatedly refused to provide them," said Ohar.

OSHA also issued the foundry 14 serious citations, with $44,000 in fines, for damaged and lead-contaminated respirators, and an erroneous and outdated lead compliance program, as well as for various confined space, forklift, machine guarding and electrical hazards. OSHA issues serious citations when death or serious physical harm is likely to result from hazards about which the employer knew or should have known.

The foundry has 15 business days from receipt of its citations and proposed penalties to comply, participate in an informal conference with the OSHA area director or contest the citations before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission. The inspection was conducted by OSHA's Concord Area Office; telephone 603-225-1629

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