A 55-year-old worker who was found unresponsive in a restroom at Bremer Manufacturing Co. Inc. on May 6, 2014 later died. The man, who had been employed at the Elkhart Lake foundry for the past 38 years, worked with resin-containing isocyanates on the sand molding line. Following an inspection, OSHA found that the company failed to train workers on the physical and health hazards of chemicals in the workplace. The agency has cited the company for one willful, one repeat and one serious health violation.
"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.
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 repeat violation was cited for failure to train employees, who were assigned to work with formaldehyde, on the chemical's physical and health hazards. The company was previously cited for this violation in 2010 at the same facility.
The company also failed to establish a written respiratory protection program, which is a serious violation of OSHA standards.
OSHA has proposed fines of $81,900.
Bremer Manufacturing Co., an aluminum castings manufacturer, employs about 100 workers.