OSHA fining Nemak after three workers diagnosed with lung disease

Company plans to request meeting with agency

Nemak has two facilities in Sheboygan. Source: Sheboygan County Economic Development Corp.

Sheboygan-based Nemak USA Inc. faces $26,520 in fines from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration after three workers were diagnosed with a debilitating lung disease.

Nemak has two facilities in Sheboygan. Source: Sheboygan County Economic Development Corp.

The aluminum castings manufacturer received citations for serious health violations after three employees were diagnosed with occupational hypersensitivity pneumonitis. OSHA said it started its investigation in August 2018 after receiving a medical referral.

“Employers using these materials in their production must ensure that good hygiene practices are followed, and fluids are properly managed to protect employees from potential lung damage,” said Robert Bonack, Appleton area office director for OSHA.

Nemak was specifically cited for failing to protect employees from exposure to airborne metalworking fluids during machining operations and failing to evaluate respiratory hazards.

The two citations each carry an initial fine of $13,260, the maximum amount allowed by law. Nemak has 15 business days to comply with the citations, request an informal conference or contest the findings.

In a statement, Nemak said it had received the citations and is giving consideration to OSHA’s recommendations.

“The company intends to meet with OSHA in the near future to better understand the basis for its citation and the recommendations contained in it including OSHA’s reference to Dutch and United Kingdom’s guidelines,” the statement said.

Nemak also emphasized its focus on safety in its operations.

“We have a long-standing commitment behind our safety programs, which include comprehensive safety policies and procedures, and equipment to protect our employees,” the statement said. “Safety is a constant priority and our response to this reinforces our absolute focus on safety.”

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Arthur covers banking and finance and the economy at BizTimes while also leading special projects as an associate editor. He also spent five years covering manufacturing at BizTimes. He previously was managing editor at The Waukesha Freeman. He is a graduate of Carroll University and did graduate coursework at Marquette. A native of southeastern Wisconsin, he is also a nationally certified gymnastics judge and enjoys golf on the weekends.

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