Manufacturing Firm Fined $118,750 for Hexavalent Chromium, Other Hazards

The Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Administration (MIOSHA) has cited Hastings Manufacturing Company LLC of Hastings, Mich., with $118,750 in proposed penalties for allegedly failing to adequately protect employees from serious health and safety hazards.

"The conditions found during the MIOSHA inspection were very serious,” said Department of Energy, Labor and Economic Growth Director Stanley “Skip” Pruss. “It is imperative that Hastings Manufacturing Company correct the serious health hazards which are endangering their employees. They must fulfill their obligations under the MIOSH Act and provide a safe and healthy work environment for their employees."

The MIOSHA General Industry Safety and Health Division (GISHD) conducted a planned, joint safety and health inspection at Hastings Manufacturing Company. The company designs and manufactures piston rings for the engine manufacturing and remanufacturing industries and employs about 185 workers. The Hastings location is considered a high-hazard facility, based on the type of work being performed.

The GISHD inspection identified numerous violations of the following MIOSHA standards: hexavalent chromium, dipping and coating operations, asbestos, formaldehyde, and noise. The most serious violations involved employee overexposures to highly hazardous air contaminants. The health inspection identified seven willful serious, four serious, and three willful other-than-serious violations, with a total penalty of $115,000.

Exposures to hexavalent chromium can occur among workers handling pigments, spray paints and coatings containing chromates, operating chrome plating baths, and welding or cutting metals containing chromium, such as stainless steel. Workers breathing hexavalent chromium compounds in high concentrations over extended periods of time may risk developing lung cancer, irritation or damage to the eyes and skin, and an allergic reaction that can result in occupational asthma.

Failure to maintain deteriorated asbestos products, as well as improper removal and/or disturbance of asbestos, can cause asbestos fibers to become airborne. Inhalation of airborne asbestos fibers can cause lung cancer, a lung disease known as "asbestosis," and mesothelioma, a cancer of the chest and abdominal cavities.

The safety inspection identified nine serious violations involving unguarded machinery, with a total penalty of $3,750.

"Employers have a legal responsibility to protect their workers, especially when they're working with hazardous materials such as hexavalent chromium and formaldehyde or working where asbestos may be present," said MIOSHA Director Doug Kalinowski. "We strongly encourage companies to use all available resources to ensure the safety and health of their workers."

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