Cut limestone manufacturer Mezger Enterprises Ltd. is facing $234,900 in fines for 27 safety and health violations, including two willful, for exposing workers to unguarded machines, unsafe electrical equipment, infrequent crane inspections and noise levels that could cause hearing loss at its Kempner, TX, facility, said officials at the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).
OSHA’s Austin Area Office initially conducted a health inspection in March as part of the agency’s Regional Emphasis Program for Noise. A referral then went out for a safety inspection to address machine guarding concerns. That inspection expanded to include overhead cranes and other safety concerns. Mezger Enterprises employs 111 workers.
“Employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful working environments, and this inspection found Mezger Enterprises woefully short in meeting their responsibilities,” said Casey Perkins, OSHA’s area director in Austin. “Failing to inspect cranes, maintain electrical equipment in a safe condition, guard cutting machines and ensure hearing protection for workers is unacceptable and will not be tolerated.”
The two willful violations, with a penalty of $126,000, were for failing to conduct hearing tests for workers exposed to noise levels exceeding 90 decibels; in this case, exposures ranged up to 99 decibels averaged over the eight-hour workday and failure to guard large, circular stone saws; a hazard that could result in severe injury or death. A willful violation is one committed with intentional, knowing or voluntary disregard for the law’s requirements, or with plain indifference to worker safety and health.
With a penalty of $108,000, 23 serious violations were for failing to provide proper sanitation, guard machines, inspect cranes and repair electrical hazards. A serious violation occurs when there is substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result from a hazard about which the employer knew or should have known.
Two other violations, with a $900 fine, were for failing to maintain the injury and illness logs and provide workers with the respiratory protection standard’s Appendix D for voluntary use of respirator devices.