Stone Countertop Manufacturer Cited for Silica Exposure

OSHA has cited Atlanta Intown Granite Co. in Atlanta for continuing to expose its employees to health hazards more than a year after OSHA had cited the company for similar violations. The agency is proposing $133,875 in penalties against the company for exposing workers to excess amounts of silica by not fully implementing a respiratory protection program, failing to fully implement a hearing conservation program, and failing to establish a written hazard communication program on exposure to hazardous substances.

The agency noted that exposure to silica can lead to silicosis, a disabling, nonreversible and sometimes fatal lung disease. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health reports that each year more than 250 people die from -- and hundreds more are disabled by -- the disease.

"Silica and noise exposure remain serious hazards to employees at work, but both hazards are 100 percent preventable if employers fully implement protection programs," said Andre Richards, director of OSHA's Atlanta-West Area Office.

OSHA inspected this company in September 2008 and cited it with five serious violations for similar hazards. The current inspection followed up on the earlier one to determine if the hazards had been corrected.

The agency also is citing the stone countertop manufacturer with one serious safety violation and a proposed penalty of $2,000 for not equipping portable tools with machine guards. The company has 15 business days from receipt of the four citations and the total $135,875 in proposed penalties to contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

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