JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Serious safety and health violations for exposing workers to dangerous welding fumes and other hazards has prompted citations for Dixie Tank Co. in Jacksonville. The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration has cited the company for 23 safety and health violations, including exposing full-time and temporary workers to health hazards from exposure to the toxic chemical hexavalent chromium in excess of federal standards. OSHA initiated an October 2013 inspection as part of the agency's national emphasis program on amputations. The proposed penalties total $106,100.
Hexavalent chromium is known to cause cancer. In addition, it targets the respiratory system, kidneys, liver, skin and eyes. Chromium metal is added to alloy steel to increase hardenability and corrosion resistance. A major source of worker exposure to hexavalent chromium occurs during 'hot work,' such as welding on stainless steel and other alloy steels containing chromium metal.
'Employers must ensure that workers are protected from serious hazards to their health,' said Brian Sturtecky, OSHA's area director in Jacksonville. 'It is critically important that employers, such as Dixie Tank, take effective steps to monitor, identify and reduce exposure levels to safeguard their employees' health.'
Nineteen serious violations involve the employer: exposing workers to hexavalent chromium above eight hour exposure limit set by OSHA; failing to conduct initial monitoring of hexavalent chromium to determine the eight hour exposure average; failing to provide medical surveillance for employees exposed to hexavalent chromium for more than 30 days and failing to provide appropriate respirators for workers. Additionally, the employer failed to ensure all hoist load hooks were equipped with a safety latch to avoid struck-by hazards, and to protect employees working adjacent to the welding area from ultraviolet welding arcs. To view all citations, including four other-than-serious violations, visit http://www.osha.gov/ooc/citations/DixieTankCompany_944682_945488.PDF*.
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.
Dixie Tank manufactures carbon and stainless steel tanks, pressure vessels, water heaters, filters and custom fabrications for the water, water treatment, hot water and industrial markets. Its facility covers more than six acres, with approximately 78,000 square feet of manufacturing area.
OSHA has conducted six previous inspections at the Dixie Tank facility. Most recently, in February 2009, the company was cited for noise, respirators and confined space violations.
Aerotek Inc., a multinational staffing agency, provides Dixie Tank with temporary workers. Dixie Tank was providing the daily supervision, training and direction for the three temporary workers employed at the facility at the time of the inspection.
In April 2013, OSHA announced an initiative to improve workplace safety and health for temporary workers. Bureau of Labor Statistics preliminary data from the Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries shows fatal work injuries involving contractor worker fatalities, including temporary help service workers, accounted for 708 – or 16 percent – of the 4,383 fatal work injuries in 2012. Additional details are available at http://bls.gov/iif/home.htm.
The company has 15 business days from receipt of the 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 Jacksonville Area Office at 904-232-2895.
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.