After failing to take appropriate precautions following a chemical spill, Valmont Coatings-Oklahoma Galvanizing in Claremore, Okla., was cited by OSHA and fined $126,000 for safety and health violations that sent 18 employees to the hospital.

OSHA penalized the hot-dip galvanizing company, which is owned by Omaha, Neb.-based Valmont Industries, Inc., following an inspection that began last Aug. 31. Valmont Coatings, which employs more than 3,000 workers — about 100 of which are located in Claremore — was hit with one alleged willful and eight alleged serious violations for exposing employees to sulfuric acid during a clean-up spill from the rupture of a storage tank.

The alleged willful violation — issued by OSHA when an employer either knew that a condition constituted a violation or was aware that a hazardous condition existed and made no reasonable effort to correct it — was for failing to provide personal protective equipment to employees who responded to the acid spill.

The alleged serious citations included a long list of shortcomings:

  • Failing to ensure that the premises were free from hazardous conditions such as exposure to concentrated sulfuric acid or being struck by debris caused by the leakage and/or rupture of a storage tank operating under pressure;

  • Failing to develop and implement an emergency response plan;

  • Failing to assure that the senior emergency response official took charge of the situation when the spill occurred; and

  • Failing to train employees in emergency response operations.

    The company has 15 working days to comply with or contest the citations.