Bumper Factory Cited for Failing to Monitor Workers' Exposure to Chemicals

The company has been issued nine serious safety and health violations for failing to monitor workers' exposure to nickel, chromium, hydrochloric acid, and sulfuric acid while cleaning electroplating tanks.

OSHA has cited Flex-N-Gate Corp., which operates as Guardian West in Urbana, Ill., with nine serious safety and health violations for failing to monitor workers' exposure to nickel, chromium, hydrochloric acid, and sulfuric acid while cleaning electroplating tanks at the company's bumper manufacturing plant. Proposed fines total $57,000 following a December 2011 inspection.

"Employers such as Guardian West are responsible for knowing the hazards that exist in their manufacturing plants and taking the necessary procedures to ensure that workers are monitored for exposure to potentially harmful substances," said Tom Bielema, OSHA's area director in Peoria. "OSHA is committed to protecting workers on the job, especially when employers fail to do so."

Four of the violations are related to medical surveillance for workers performing decorative plating operations in regard to chromium and chromic acid exposure. These involve failing to provide periodic examinations of exposed body parts, especially nostrils; implement an effective respiratory program that includes training; identify and evaluate respiratory hazards; and provide medical evaluations for respirator use and fit-testing for respirators.

The remaining violations involve failing to conduct monitoring to determine the 8-hour, time-weighted average exposure to chromium for each employee; maintain surfaces free of chromium accumulations; provide effective information and training on hazardous chemicals in the work area during a worker's initial assignment or when a new hazard is introduced to the work area; and provide medical examinations for chromium exposure while ensuring that the medical professional conducting exams has copies of the exposure standards as well as a description of employees' duties.

Urbana-headquartered Flex-N-Gate employs more than 12,450 people at 50 manufacturing and nine product development and engineering facilities throughout the United States, Canada, Mexico, Argentina, Brazil, and Spain. The Urbana plant previously was inspected by OSHA in October 2010, resulting in citations for two serious violations.

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