$466,400 Fine for Hazardous Dust Exposure, Inadequate PPE

"Even with employees covered head to toe in dust, the company still failed to provide breathing protection and other controls," said Assistant Secretary Dr. David Michaels.

OSHA has cited U.S. Minerals LLC of Dyer, Ind., for willfully exposing its workers to dangerously high levels of hazardous dust and not providing adequate breathing protection at its Baldwin facility. The company, which manufactures abrasive blasting and roofing materials from slag produced at coal-fired power plants, has been issued a total of 35 health and safety citations with proposed penalties of $466,400.

"U.S. Minerals has severely jeopardized the health of its workers by exposing them to extremely high levels of dust containing silica," said Assistant Secretary of Labor for OSHA Dr. David Michaels. "Even with employees covered head to toe in dust, the company still failed to provide breathing protection and other controls."

Inhalation of the material produced at the facility can cause debilitating lung disease such as pneumoconiosis, which is characterized by symptoms including chronic cough, difficulty breathing, and shortness of breath. The antiquated and poorly maintained facility billowed clouds of dust that were noted by and affected residents as far as two miles away.

OSHA has issued U.S. Minerals 10 willful citations with proposed fines of $392,000 for exposing workers to levels of hazardous dust at concentrations higher than the permissible exposure limit; failure to implement a written respiratory protection program or to provide respirators to employees; and failure to implement engineering controls to reduce harmful dust exposures. 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.

"U.S. Minerals has demonstrated a blatant disregard for the safety and welfare of its workers," said OSHA Area Director Nick Walters in Peoria, Ill. "That is not acceptable, and we are committed to seeing that the workers at this facility are provided a safe and healthy workplace."

The company also has been issued 15 serious citations with proposed penalties of $37,600. Violations include failure to assess the need for adequate personal protective equipment; inadequate eye protection; unsanitary washing facilities; failure to develop procedures and practices for permit-required confined space entry; lack of a written hazard communication program; and inadequate information and training on dust containing silica. An OSHA violation is serious if death or serious physical harm could result from a hazard an employer knew or should have known exists.

The company has received six repeat citations with fines of $34,400 for violating permit-required confined space entry rules and failure to maintain a clean and orderly workplace. OSHA issues repeat citations if an employer was previously cited for the same or a similar violation of any standard, regulation, rule or order at any other facility within the last three years. The company also has received four other-than-serious citations with $2,400 in penalties for lack of proper injury and illness recordkeeping.

As a result of this inspection, OSHA has opened inspections of additional U.S. Minerals facilities in Coffeen, Ill., Harvey, La., and Galveston, Texas.

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.

Download Center

HTML - No Current Item Deck
  • Free Safety Management Software Demo

    IndustrySafe Safety Management Software helps organizations to improve safety by providing a comprehensive toolset of software modules to help businesses identify trouble spots; reduce claims, lost days, OSHA fines; and more.

  • Track Key Safety Performance Indicators

    IndustrySafe’s Dashboard Module allows organizations to easily track safety KPIs and metrics. Gain increased visibility into your business’ operations and safety data.

  • Analyze Incident Data

    Collect relevant incident data, analyze trends, and generate accurate regulatory reports, including OSHA 300, 300A, and 301 logs, through IndustrySafe’s extensive incident reporting and investigation module.

  • Safety Training 101

    When it comes to safety training, no matter the industry, there are always questions regarding requirements and certifications. We’ve put together a guide on key safety training topics, requirements for certifications, and answers to common training questions.

  • Conduct EHS Inspections and Audits

    Record and manage your organization’s inspection data with IndustrySafe’s Inspections module. IndustrySafe’s pre-built forms and checklists may be used as is, or can be customized to better suit the needs of your organization.

  • Industry Safe
comments powered by Disqus

OH&S Digital Edition

  • OHS Magazine Digital Edition - March 2019

    March 2019


      Not Your Grandpa's Ear Muffs 
      Far Too Many Fatal Falls
      Marijuana in the Workplace
      Ladder Safety Tips
    View This Issue