Fines proposed against Wisconsin business for silica dust exposure

BROWNTOWN, Wis. (OSHA NEWS RELEASE) – The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration has cited Grede Wisconsin Subsidiaries LLC for three violations, including one repeat, for failing to evaluate worker exposure to respirable crystalline silica dust and other hazards at the Browntown iron foundry. Worker inhalation of silica particles can lead to the development of disabling lung diseases, such as silicosis and cancer. OSHA initiated the complaint inspection in November 2013. Proposed penalties total $50,600.

"Grede Wisconsin compromised the health of its workers by failing to monitor properly for inhalation of crystalline silica dust, a known hazard," said Kim Stille, OSHA's area director in Madison. "Employers have a responsibility to monitor worker exposure to known hazards and to take precautions to limit exposure to potentially fatal elements."

A similar violation was cited at the Browntown plant in 2012. A repeat violation exists when an employer previously has been cited for the same or a similar violation of a standard, regulation, rule or order at any other facility in federal enforcement states within the last five years.

Two serious violations include improper ladder caging and failing to provide proper eye protection. A serious violation occurs when there is substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result from a hazard about which the employer knew or should have known.

The 2012 inspection at the Browntown plant cited 28 violations. Because of the inspection, the company paid $133,000 in penalties.

OSHA has recently proposed a rule to update the silica standard and protect more workers from respirable silica dust. Once implemented, OSHA estimates that the rule will save nearly 700 lives and prevent 1,600 new cases of silicosis annually. The rule is not final, and OSHA welcomes public participation. For more information on the rulemaking, visit https://www.osha.gov/silica/index.html.

Grede Wisconsin employs about 200 workers at the Browntown facility, which specializes in producing castings in ductile and gray iron. It is operated by Southfield, Mich.-based Grede Holdings LLC, which has 21 facilities in the U.S., Europe and Japan.

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

To ask questions, obtain compliance assistance, file a complaint, or report workplace hospitalizations, fatalities or situations posing imminent danger to workers, the public should call OSHA's toll-free hotline at 800-321-OSHA (6742) or the agency's Madison Area Office at 608-441-5388.

Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their employees. OSHA's role is to ensure these conditions for America's working men and women by setting and enforcing standards, and providing training, education and assistance. For more information, visit http://www.osha.gov.


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