The U.S. Labor Department's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has cited Michigan-based Leitz Tooling Systems for failing to protect workers from chemical and safety hazards at the company's Muscle Shoals, Ala., service center. The agency is proposing penalties totaling $48,650.

"The working conditions at this facility pose a serious threat to workers' health and safety," said Roberto Sanchez, OSHA's Birmingham area director.

OSHA issued 21 serious citations against the company after a December 2005 inspection of the shop, where employees sharpen and recondition saw blades and wood milling tools.

Inspectors determined that employees had not received appropriate training about safe handling of, or adverse health effects associated with, the chemicals used at the center. Additionally, employees were reportedly not provided personal protective equipment while working with corrosive chemicals. Emergency eyewash or safety shower stations were also not available in the event workers were burned or splashed.

OSHA further determined that employees were exposed to: electrical shocks from conductive metal working fluids which flowed over equipment; slipping hazards where fluid accumulated on the floor; and amputation hazards from unguarded cutting machines. Inspectors also found that the service center lacked an emergency exit.