ASI Industries and Atlantic Stone Industries LLC, both located in Marlborough, Mass., have been fined a total of $106,100 by the U.S. Labor Department's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) for 14 instances of failing to correct hazards cited during OSHA inspections in 2004 and for nine new alleged safety and health violations.
"Failure to correct workplace hazards is costly, not only in additional fines but also for workers' health and safety," said Francis Pagliuca, OSHA's area director for Middlesex and Essex counties. "Left uncorrected, the conditions at both companies exposed workers to lung damage, hearing loss, lacerations, crushing injuries and being struck by forklifts."
The two companies manufacture and process granite countertops and were first cited by OSHA in September 2004 for violations of safety and health standards. Although the companies agreed to correct all cited hazards, follow-up inspections begun May 25, 2005, found numerous hazards still uncorrected.
Among ASI's uncorrected hazards were: employees overexposed to respirable silica dust and lack of engineering controls to reduce exposure levels; lack of a respiratory protection program and training; no training on noise hazards; unguarded saws and sanders; excess air pressure for a cleaning hose, and electrical hazards. ASI also received one serious citation for improper respirator selection. The company faces $77,000 in fines for these items.
Atlantic Stone Industries received a failure to abate citation for not providing forklift operators with safety training. The company also received two repeat citations for employees exposed to being thrown off a forklift and unsafe storage of oxygen cylinders. Six serious citations were issued for unguarded pits and floor openings; no hearing conservation program; improperly secured loads; unguarded saws; an unguarded flywheel, and no strain relief for a power cord. Penalties of $29,100 have been proposed.
OSHA issues a failure to abate citation when an employer has agreed to correct a previously cited hazard, then fails to do so. A repeat citation is issued when OSHA finds a hazard similar to one found on a prior inspection and the earlier citation has become final. A serious citation is issued when death or serious physical harm are likely to result from a hazard about which the employer knew or should have known.
OSHA opened an additional inspection of ASI on Oct. 3, after an ASI employee was killed when a granite slab fell on him. That inspection remains open.