La Crosse, WI-based Torrance Castings Inc. is facing $47,000 in fines for 10 safety violations after a furnace worker died at its iron foundry, said officials at the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).

The 30-year-old worker was working alone in a confined space while doing maintenance on July 29. He fell into a furnace he was trying to reline. He had worked at the foundry for two years.

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“Torrance Castings has a responsibility to protect workers from known hazards. In this case, OSHA’s permit-required confined space standards explain how to keep workers safe when entering these spaces,” said Kim Stille, OSHA’s area director in Madison. “Preventable deaths are completely unacceptable, and employers are responsible for ensuring that they do not happen at their facilities.”

OSHA issued nine serious violations, four of which involve OSHA regulations for entering a confined space not designed for an employee to occupy continuously.

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The company faces citations for failing to:
• Implement a written confined space permit program and develop procedures and practices to allow safe entry for electric inductive furnaces.
• Prepare an entry permit prior to entry into the inductive furnace.
• Provide an attendant outside the permit space for the duration of the entry operation.

Other violations include:
• Failing to ensure employees pouring metal and shifting weights were wearing arm protection and using face shields.
• Failing to include the health effects of silica, copper and other hazardous materials in employee training programs.
• Failing to have a workbench for the stand grinder.
• Allowing a worker to clean equipment suspended by a half-ton chain hoist.
• Using electrical equipment in the powdered paint room not rated for such use.

An OSHA violation is serious if death or serious physical harm could result from a hazard an employer knew or should have known exists.

One other-than-serious violation was for failing to assess employee exposure to silica, copper, polyester triglycidyl isocyanurate powder, and coal tar pitch volatiles. An other-than-serious violation is one that has a direct relationship to job safety and health, but probably would not cause death or serious physical harm.

Torrance Casting has undergone three previous inspections since 2000, resulting in 10 citations.

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