The U.S. Labor Department’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has issued citations, with proposed penalties totaling $186,750, to Horsehead Corp., Monaca, Pa. for alleged safety and health violations. The zinc manufacturing company employs 650 workers at its Monaca facility.
OSHA initiated its inspection in response to an accident where an employee stepped into an uncovered condenser pit full of molten zinc and suffered severe leg burns. The investigation yielded one willful citation, with a proposed penalty of $63,000, for the company’s failure to cover the condenser pit that contained the molten zinc or provide a guardrail to prevent employees from stepping into the open pit.
“Management knew of the molten zinc, but failed to inform employees of the potential hazard or take the steps to protect them,” said Robert Szymanski, OSHA area director in Pittsburgh. “It’s imperative that the company take immediate action to correct these violations to ensure the safety and health of its employees.”
OSHA also issued 27 serious citations, with a proposed penalty of $111,150. The alleged violations include the company’s failure to: use an approved safety platform; provide guardrails or protection barriers; provide machine-specific procedural steps for the control of hazardous energy; eliminate all hazards from a permit-required confined space before allowing employees to enter; provide a hearing conservation program and protection from excessive noise exposure; and protect employees from excessive lead and cadmium exposure.
The company was also cited for 14 other-than-serious violations, with a penalty of $12,600, for failing to maintain required records of employee exposures to lead and cadmium.
A willful violation is one committed with an intentional disregard of, or plain indifference to, the requirements of the Occupational Safety and Health Act. A serious violation is issued when there is substantial probability that death or serious injury could occur from a hazard about which the employer knew or should have known.
The company has 15 working days from receipt of the citations to appeal before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.
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