OSHA cites Cudahy plant for violations

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has cited Joy-Mark Inc. for six health violations, including two repeat citations, for exposing workers to airborne refractory ceramic fiber at the mold manufacturing facility in Cudahy.

OSHA has proposed penalties of $50,050, as a result of the October 2012 follow-up inspection.

“Joy-Mark has a responsibility to monitor worker exposure to respiratory hazards and to provide and train workers on the proper use of appropriate respirators,” said Christine Zortman, OSHA’s area director in Milwaukee. “Employers who are cited for repeat violations demonstrate a lack of knowledge and commitment to protecting worker safety and health.”

The first repeat violation involves allowing workers to use non-HEPA respirators, which are ineffective in filtering exposure to known respiratory hazards. The second violation involves exposure to airborne refractory ceramic fiber above the recommended exposure limits set by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health. Exposure to refractory ceramic fibers can result in adverse respiratory health effects, such as irritation and compromised pulmonary function, lung cancer and mesothelioma.

A repeat violation exists when an employer previously has been cited 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. These violations were previously cited at the Cudahy facility in 2009, 2010 and 2011.

Also cited were four serious violations of OSHA’s respiratory protection standards, including a lack of medical evaluation for a worker required to wear a respirator, not conducting initial or annual respirator fit testing and allowing a respirator to be worn with a beard. An OSHA violation is serious if death or serious physical harm can result from a hazard an employer knows or should know exists.

Joy-Mark employs 65 people at the Cudahy facility, which manufactures ceramic molds to be used as pouring aids in the foundry industry. The company has 15 days from receipt of the citations and proposed penalties to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA’s area director or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

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