Wiremold Company, a manufacturer of electronic products, faces $315,000 in fines from the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) for workplace hazards at its West Hartford, Conn., plant. The company was cited for 40 alleged violations of safety and health standards following OSHA inspections begun April 12 in response to employee complaints.

"Plant workers were exposed to electrocution hazards when they worked on live electrical parts without first de-energizing them and locking out their circuits," said C. William Freeman III, OSHA's area director in Hartford, Conn. "This employer knows from previous OSHA inspections the magnitude of risk posed to workers by these practices."

OSHA's inspection also found that reportable instances of hearing loss among employees exposed to high noise levels were not recorded on the plant's OSHA logs, as required. The failure to record these cases, plus the work on live parts, resulted in the issuance of two willful citations carrying $140,000 in proposed fines.

OSHA proposed $117,000 in fines for 15 repeat citations for hazards found in these inspections that were similar to those cited in earlier OSHA inspections. They included material stored in an exit stairwell; improper storing and handling of flammable liquids and combustible items; numerous instances of unguarded or inadequately guarded machinery; an uncovered electrical junction box and other electrical hazards; an uninspected crane; an unguarded welding machine, and an inadequate system for collecting aluminum dust generated during buffing operations.

Twenty-three serious citations were issued for hazards involving unguarded or inadequately guarded mechanical power presses; deficiencies in the plant's hearing conservation and hazard communication programs; failing to determine if workers were exposed to lead and cadmium; storage of excess amounts of flammable liquids in work areas; defects in the plant's paint spray operation; damaged or missing personal protective equipment; tripping hazards; and additional electrical hazards. A total of $58,000 in fines was proposed 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. It issues a serious citation when death or serious physical harm is likely to result from a hazard about which the employer knew or should have known. Repeat citations are issued when an employer has previously been cited by OSHA for substantially similar hazards and those citations have become final.

The company has 15 business days from receipt of its citations to request and participate in an informal conference with the OSHA area director or to contest the citations before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.