Twice in 18 months, workers at Metso Minerals Industries Inc. were in danger of suffering cuts, lacerations and amputation from machine hazards at the Warrenton, MO, metal-mesh manufacturer because their employer ignored important safety rules, said officials at the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).
Acting on a complaint, OSHA inspectors identified one repeated and eight serious safety violations at the facility, including exposing workers to hexavalent chromium, a toxic metal known to cause cancer. OSHA proposed penalties of $64,250.
“More than 200,000 American workers are injured by machine hazards annually. Workers pay the price when companies fail to follow standards to reduce injuries,” said Bill McDonald, area director of OSHA’s St. Louis office. “The safety mechanisms at Metso Minerals are inadequate, and the company was cited for similar hazards in 2013. The company needs to take immediate steps to comply with this safety standard.”
The Jan. 27 investigation found workers endangered by amputation hazards because machines did not shut down properly prior to service and maintenance. Workers were also operating press brakes without appropriate safety devices. This inspection resulted in one repeated violation.
Similar violations ended up cited at Metso Minerals in Warrenton in May 2013. OSHA issues repeated violations if an employer faced previous citations for the same or a similar violation of any standard, regulation, rule or order at any other facility in federal enforcement states within the last five years.
Inspectors also found the company failed to monitor hexavalent chromium exposure levels among workers. Chromium hardens alloy steel and help it resist corrosion. In this case, workers suffered exposure to chromium during “hot work,” when stainless steel and other alloy steels containing chromium metal ended up welded.
Investigators also noted the company did not secure live conductors to power boxes, failed to close unused openings in electrical boxes and did not store compressed gas cylinders properly. As a result, eight serious health and safety violations ended up issued. An OSHA violation is serious if death or serious physical harm could result from a hazard an employer knew or should have known exists.