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Grede Wisconsin Subsidiaries LLC is facing $50,600 in fines for three violations, including one repeat, for failing to evaluate worker exposure to respirable crystalline silica dust and other hazards at the Browntown, WI, iron foundry, said officials at the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).

Grede Wisconsin employs 200 workers at the Browntown facility, which specializes in producing castings in ductile and gray iron. Southfield, MI-based Grede Holdings LLC, which has 21 facilities in the U.S., Europe and Japan, operates the plant.

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OSHA initiated the complaint inspection in November to investigate worker inhalation of silica particles, which can lead to the development of disabling lung diseases, such as silicosis and cancer.

“Grede Wisconsin compromised the health of its workers by failing to monitor properly for inhalation of crystalline silica dust, a known hazard,” said Kim Stille, OSHA’s area director in Madison. “Employers have a responsibility to monitor worker exposure to known hazards and to take precautions to limit exposure to potentially fatal elements.”

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There was a similar violation at the Browntown plant in 2012, OSHA said. A repeat violation exists when an employer previously faced citations for the same or a similar violation of a standard, regulation, rule or order at any other facility in federal enforcement states within the last five years.

Two serious violations include improper ladder caging and failing to provide proper eye protection. 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.

The 2012 inspection at the Browntown plant cited 28 violations. Because of the inspection, the company paid $133,000 in penalties.

OSHA proposed a rule to update the silica standard and protect more workers from respirable silica dust. The rule is not final, and OSHA welcomes public participation. Click here for more information on the rule.

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