Manufacturer exposes welders to toxic metal hazards
Workers welding stainless steel and other alloy steels containing chromium metal at a Wisconsin bulk storage tank manufacturer were exposed to hazardous levels of hexavalent chromium, which can cause lung cancer and respiratory, eye and skin damage.
Citations and fines
After a complaint, OSHA inspectors visited Imperial Industries in Rothschild and identified two willful and 12 serious safety violations. Proposed penalties total $161,100.
"Each year 50,000 workers die from exposures to hazardous substances like chromium during their careers. Failing to take steps to limit exposure to this dangerous substance is inexcusable," said Robert Bonack, area director of OSHA's Appleton office. "Workers pay the price when companies don't follow standards to reduce injuries and illnesses. Imperial Industries needs to take immediate steps to comply with safety and health standards."
Inspectors determined employees were exposed to hexavalent chromium at levels exceeding permissible exposure limits while welding steels containing chromium metal. Chromium is added to harden alloy steel and help it resist corrosion. Additionally, the company failed to implement engineering controls to reduce and monitor exposure levels among workers.
The November 2014 investigation also found workers endangered by amputation and struck-by hazards because machines lacked safety mechanisms. Numerous electrical safety hazards were also identified, and workers were found operating damaged powered industrial vehicles.
Imperial Industries manufactures heavy gauge metal industrial tanks that are typically mounted to commercial trucks.