The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration has cited Weatherford International Ltd. with one alleged willful, 30 alleged serious and two alleged repeat violations following a safety and health inspection at the company's facility in Longview, Texas. Proposed penalties total $261,500.
 
"This company jeopardized the safety of its workers by exposing them to hexavalent chromium hazards, which could possibly result in severe and adverse health effects," said Stephen Boyd, OSHA's area director in Dallas, Texas. "OSHA's safety and health standards must be followed to prevent injuries and fatalities."

OSHA began its inspection on May 24 at the company's facility on FM 2751 in Longview after receiving a complaint alleging workers were experiencing headaches and nosebleeds from exposure to hexavalent chromium during chrome plating and cleanup operations. A willful violation was issued for failing to ensure employees' airborne exposure to hexavalent chromium did not exceed OSHA's permissible exposure limit of 5 micrograms per cubic meter of air. OSHA defines a willful violation as one committed with intentional, knowing or voluntary disregard for the law's requirements, or with plain indifference to employee safety and health.

The serious violations include failing to train workers on OSHA's hexavalent chromium standard, failing to implement proper hygiene practices and housekeeping procedures, and failing to have high temperature alarms on hardening and tempering tanks. A serious violation is one in which there is a substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result from a hazard about which the employer knew or should have known.

Repeat violations include failing to provide adequate point of operation guarding on lathes, and failing to ensure containers used for dipping and coating operations were marked and labeled. A repeat violation is issued when an employer previously has been cited for the same or a similar violation of any standard, regulation, rule or order at any other facility in federal enforcement states within the last five years.

Detailed information about hexavalent chromium hazards and safeguards is available on OSHA's website at http://www.osha.gov/SLTC/hexavalentchromium.

The company, which manufactures oil well rod pump barrels and plungers, has 15 business days from receipt of the citations to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA's Dallas Area Office or contest the citations and penalties before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.