HOUSTON -- Outdoor Furniture Refinishing Inc., doing business as Allied Powder Coating, has been cited by the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration for 15 serious health and safety violations with a proposed fine of $55,440. OSHA cited the sandblasting and powder coating company for exposing workers to toxic chemicals, including silica, beyond established occupational limits. OSHA initiated the February 2013 inspection at the company's Houston facility under its Regional Emphasis Program on Safety and Health Hazards in the Manufacture of Fabricated Metal Products.
'Allied Powder Coating has a responsibility to provide a safe workplace for its employees,' said Mark Briggs, OSHA's area director in the Houston South Area Office. 'OSHA standards are in place to protect workers from predictable and preventable injuries and illnesses, and the company ignored these standards at the expense of worker safety.'
The serious violations include exposing workers to crystalline silica above the occupational exposure limit. Crystalline silica can cause lung cancer, silicosis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and kidney disease in workers. The company also failed to institute a noise monitoring program that included audiometric testing for workers exposed to noise in excess of 90 decibels.
Additionally, the spray booth was not equipped with an alarm to indicate proper maintenance of required air velocity, nor was it equipped with sprinklers or an exhaust that discharged to the building's exterior. Further, workers were not fit tested or medically evaluated for respirators, and the respirators were not properly stored and inspected prior to use. 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 company has 15 business days from receipt of its citations and proposed penalties to comply, request a conference with OSHA's area director, or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety & Health Review Commission.
To ask questions, obtain compliance assistance, file a complaint, or report workplace hospitalizations, fatalities or situations posing imminent danger to workers, the public should call OSHA's toll-free hotline at 800-321-OSHA (6742), or the agency's Houston South Area Office at 281-286-0583 or the Houston North Area Office at 281-520-6171.
OSHA recently released a proposed rule to protect workers exposed to respirable crystalline silica. OSHA estimates that the proposed rule will save nearly 700 lives and prevent 1,600 new cases of silicosis per year, once the full effects of the rule are realized.
The proposed rule is the result of extensive review of scientific evidence relating to the health risks of exposure to respirable crystalline silica, analysis of the diverse industries where worker exposure to crystalline silica occurs and robust outreach efforts to affected stakeholders. OSHA currently enforces 40-year-old permissible exposure limits for crystalline silica in general industry, construction and shipyards that are outdated, inconsistent between industries and do not protect worker health adequately. The proposed rule brings protections into the 21st century.
Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their employees. OSHA's role is to ensure these conditions for America's working men and women by setting and enforcing standards, and providing training, education and assistance. For more information, visit http://www.osha.gov.