Franklin Nonferrous Foundry Inc., Franklin, N.H., faces a total of $120,200 in proposed fines from the U.S. Labor Department's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) for failing to protect workers from a variety of health hazards including lead and noise overexposures.

The foundry was cited for a total of 21 alleged willful, serious and repeat violations of workplace health and safety standards following an OSHA inspection begun Sept. 15, 2005, in response to an employee complaint. This is the eighth time OSHA has cited the foundry since 1999.

The inspection found that employees were continually overexposed to airborne concentrations of lead and to high noise levels, and the employer had not implemented effective controls to reduce exposure levels, nor ensured the use of hearing and eye protection.

"These are clearly recognized hazards in foundry work that can lead to serious illness, injury and hearing loss if the required safeguards are not implemented or are ignored altogether," said Rosemarie Ohar, OSHA's New Hampshire area director. "This employer has known for years what steps must be taken to protect employees' health and safety but has refused to implement them."

The employer did not conduct required air and biological monitoring to see if workers had elevated lead levels in their blood systems or provide audiograms to determine if workers had sustained hearing loss. Lead is a systemic poison, and continued overexposure can damage the blood-forming, nervous, urinary and reproductive systems.

OSHA issued seven willful citations, carrying $95,000 in proposed fines, for these items. OSHA defines a willful violation as one committed with an intentional disregard of, or plain indifference to, the requirements of the Occupational Safety and Health Act and regulations.

Twelve serious citations, with $19,200 in fines, were issued for: a locked emergency exit; blocked exit access; improper cleaning, storage and use of respirators; lack of protective clothing and equipment; unsanitary shower facilities; copper dust overexposure and lack of exposure controls; lead-contaminated clothing, and no cadmium training program or exposure monitoring. Two repeat citations, with $6,000 in fines, were issued for an inadequate lead compliance program and improper use of compressed air for cleaning purposes.