OSHA has cited U.S. Minerals LLC of Dyer, Ind., for willfully exposing its workers to dangerously high levels of hazardous dust and not providing adequate breathing protection at its Baldwin facility. The company, which manufactures abrasive blasting and roofing materials from slag produced at coal-fired power plants, has been issued a total of 35 health and safety citations with proposed penalties of$466,400.
Inhalation of the material produced at the facility can cause debilitating lung disease such as pneumoconiosis, which is characterized by symptoms including chronic cough, difficulty breathing and shortness of breath. The antiquated and poorly maintained facility billowed clouds of dust that were noted by and affected residents as far as two miles away.
OSHA has issued U.S. Minerals 10 willful citations with proposed fines of $392,000 for exposing workers to levels of hazardous dust at concentrations higher than the permissible exposure limit; failure to implement a written respiratory protection program or to provide respirators to employees; and failure to implement engineering controls to reduce harmful dust exposures. A willful violation is one committed with intentional, knowing or voluntary disregard for the law’s requirement, or plain indifference to employee safety and health.