Metal Polishing Plant Cited for Willfully Overexposing Worker to Chromium VI

OSHA has cited Wisconsin Polishing and Plating Inc. of West Allis, Wis., with $75,400 in proposed penalties for allowing workers to be overexposed to chromium and chromic acid, violating federal workplace health standards. The company performs chrome plating and polishing for metal parts.

As a result of a February 2010 inspection, OSHA has issued the company one willful, 50 serious, and two other-than-serious violations. The willful citation, with a proposed penalty of $7,000, is for allowing an employee to be exposed to chromium VI above the permissible exposure limits. A willful violation is one committed with intentional, knowing or voluntary disregard for the law's requirement, or plain indifference to employee safety and health.

Some of the 50 serious citations, with proposed penalties of $68,100, include failing to provide proper protective equipment for employees working with lead and other extremely dangerous dust and chemicals; failure to develop or implement a hazard communication program; failure to maintain material safety data information; and allowing employees to be exposed to open circuit breaker panels and improperly marked electrical panels. An OSHA violation is serious if death or serious physical harm can result from a hazard an employer knew or should have known exists.

The company also received a $300 proposed fine for two other-than-serious violations, which included lack of properly marked load rating signs and failure to inform employees of their right to access medical or exposure information and records.

"Overexposure to lead, chromium VI, and chromic acid is extremely dangerous, and there is no excuse for a company to disregard the safety and welfare of its workers by not following OSHA safety standards," said OSHA Area Director George Yoksas in Milwaukee. "Those who ignore safe practices and OSHA regulations are inviting tragedy into the lives of their workers."

The company has 15 business days from receipt of its citations and penalties to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA's area director, or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

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