One worker at a Wisconsin manufacturing company suffered severe injuries after being struck by a moving piece of machinery and another was exposed to excessive levels of hexavalent chromium, OSHA investigators found, after responding to a complaint about unsafe conditions at the facility.

Felker Brothers Corp., a manufacturer of steel pipes and tubes, now faces $110,458 in proposed penalties for 13 serious safety and health violations at the company’s Marshfield facility.

Exposure to hazmat, machinery

In its investigation, OSHA determined that a grinder operator was exposed to hexavalent chromium at levels 1.78 percent higher than the permissible exposure limit. The company also reported a worker was hospitalized after suffering a shattered jaw and concussion when he was struck by a piece of machinery. OSHA found a lack of machine safety procedures including failing to adequately anchor equipment to the floor.

“Welding and hot work on stainless steel, high chrome alloys, and chrome-coated metal is one of the most common ways workers are exposed to hexavalent chromium. Exposure can cause respiratory tract, skin, and eye irritation,” said OSHA Area Director Chad Greenwood, in Madison. “Companies must monitor their facilities to ensure workplace health and safety procedures are effective.”

Combustible materials near hot work

In addition, OSHA found the company used damaged cranes; altered forklifts without manufacturer’s approval; failed to inspect jacks, and allowed combustible materials to be stored within 35 feet of welding and hot work.

Felker Brothers Corp. manufactures and custom fabricates stainless steel pipe, tubes, and fittings at manufacturing facilities in Wisconsin and Kentucky.