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Franklin Non-Ferrous Foundry Inc. faces $185,900 in fines for four willful and serious violations of workplace health and safety standards, chiefly involving a failure to protect workers from exposure to lead, said Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) officials.

The foundry, located in Franklin, NH, received the fines following an inspection by OSHA’s Concord Area Office in January to verify the abatement of hazards cited by the agency in 2009.

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This most recent inspection found two employees exposed to excessive levels of lead during foundry operations as well as a lack of sufficient engineering controls to reduce lead exposure levels. Management also failed to conduct additional lead exposure monitoring when they used alloys with higher lead content and the ventilation system was not working. In addition, management failed to regularly measure the ventilation system to gauge its effectiveness in controlling lead exposure, and they did not use respirators when required.

These conditions led to OSHA issuing citations with $181,500 in proposed penalties for three willful violations. 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.

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“This employer is well aware of the necessary procedures to safeguard workers against lead exposure hazards, having been cited for 62 violations of OSHA’s lead standard since 1998, yet has chosen again to disregard them,” said Rosemarie Ohar, OSHA’s area director in New Hampshire. “The sizable fines proposed here reflect not only the severity of these hazards but this employer’s clear knowledge of and failure to address them.”

A citation with a $4,400 fine was for one serious violation involving employees overexposed to airborne copper fumes during pouring operations and a lack of controls to reduce the exposure level. 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.

OSHA placed Franklin Non-Ferrous Foundry Inc. in the agency’s Severe Violator Enforcement Program, which mandates targeted follow-up inspections to ensure compliance with the law.

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