Felker Brothers Corp., a Wisconsin manufacturer of steel pipes and tubes, is facing $110,458 in fines for 13 serious safety and health violations at the company’s Marshfield, WI, facility, said officials at the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).

At least one employee at Felker Brothers suffered exposure to excessive levels of hexavalent chromium, which can cause serious health issues, and another worker suffered severe injuries after being struck by a moving piece of machinery, OSHA investigators found.

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“Welding and hot work on stainless steel, high chrome alloys, and chrome-coated metal is one of the most common ways workers are exposed to hexavalent chromium. Exposure can cause respiratory tract, skin, and eye irritation,” said OSHA Area Director Chad Greenwood, in Madison. “Companies must monitor their facilities to ensure workplace health and safety procedures are effective.”

In its investigation, OSHA determined a grinder operator suffered exposure to hexavalent chromium at levels 1.78 percent higher than the permissible exposure limit.

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The company also reported a worker ended up in the hospital after suffering a shattered jaw and concussion when he was struck by a piece of machinery. OSHA found a lack of machine safety procedures including failing to adequately anchor equipment to the floor.

In addition, OSHA found the company used damaged cranes; altered forklifts without manufacturer’s approval; failed to inspect jacks, and allowed combustible materials to be stored within 35 feet of welding and hot work.

Felker Brothers manufactures and custom fabricates stainless steel pipe, tubes, and fittings at manufacturing facilities in Wisconsin and Kentucky.

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