The U.S. Labor Department's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has proposed $178,500 in fines against metal fabricator Northern Metal Fab Inc., following an inspection at the company's Baldwin, Wis., facility.
OSHA opened a complaint inspection at Northern Metal Fab after receiving information alleging the use of unsafe cranes and hazardous conditions in confined spaces and a paint spray booth. The federal workplace safety agency initiated a formal inspection in November 2005, resulting in citations for three alleged willful and 20 alleged serious violations of OSHA standards.
Willful citations alleged that the company did not have procedures for summoning rescue and emergency services when employees entered permit-required confined spaces; failed to conduct frequent inspection of its cranes, and operated a 20-ton overhead crane with a broken sheave wheel. Serious violations addressed machine guarding deficiencies, lockout/tagout failures, electrical issues, confined space violations and other hazards.
"Any one of these violations has the potential to cause serious harm, even death, to workers," said OSHA area director Mark Hysell, Eau Claire, Wis. "Any work involving confined spaces requires the ability to summon emergency responders immediately should incidents occur. Employees painting in spray booths and operating overhead cranes and other industrial equipment are performing inherently dangerous work, and there are federal standards in place for their protection."
OSHA has conducted four inspections at Northern Metal Fab over the past eight years, issuing citations for violations of workplace safety and health regulations involving lockout/tagout, confined space, respiratory protection, and machine guarding in 1997. A 2001 inspection also revealed lockout/tagout issues. Lockout/tagout procedures are required to render machinery inoperable during maintenance and repair.
The company has 15 working days from receipt of the citations to appeal before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.