RACINE, Wis. -- Procedures for handling liquid chlorine, a highly hazardous chemical, at Beck Aluminum Alloys Ltd., were lacking according to an investigation by the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration. The company, which recycles aluminum and produces alloys used in various applications, will pay a penalty of $32,890 for 10 serious safety violations.
The violations were cited under OSHA's Process Safety Management Standards, which contain specific requirements for managing dangerous chemicals in the workplace. Liquid chlorine, used in the production of aluminum metals, is a chemical covered under the standards. It can cause irritation to the eyes, skin and the respiratory system.
'Exposure to chlorine can have terrible health consequences, and workers must be trained in proper operating procedures to minimize exposure. Workers should never be put at risk because a company failed to implement and test controls that would protect them from exposure,' said Christine Zortman, OSHA's area director in Milwaukee.
The Feb. 21 inspection found the foundry failed to evaluate potential hazards for employees who worked with chlorine, including the impact of power outages on work processes. The company also did not develop written procedures to minimize employee exposure. In addition, the company failed to properly test and evaluate piping used to transfer liquid chlorine, and it failed to implement safe operating pressure limits.
An OSHA violation is serious if death or serious physical harm could result from a hazard an employer knew or should have known exists.
Beck Aluminum Alloys Ltd., based in Lebanon, Pennsylvania, is a subsidiary of Beck Aluminum Corp. of Mayfield, Ohio. Beck Aluminum Alloys employs 115 workers nationwide at its foundries in Lebanon and Racine.
The company has negotiated a settlement agreement with OSHA which includes a final order of 10 serious violations and payment of $32,890 in four installments. The company must also provide documentation that the safety violations have been abated.
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 Milwaukee Area Office at 414-297-3315.
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.