The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration has cited Extrudex Aluminum Inc. with eight safety violations, including two willful, after a worker died when he became pinned by a rack containing hot aluminum parts when it tipped over in an oven at the facility on Oct. 30, 2012.
Another worker was severely injured in the incident when he was burned by the hot parts.“Extrudex Aluminum could have prevented this tragic loss by protecting workers from hazards unique to its operation,” said Howard Eberts, OSHA’s area director in Cleveland. “Workers should not be asked to take such risks, and OSHA will not tolerate such disregard for worker safety.”
The two willful citations include exposing workers to struck-by, pinned-under and burned-by hazards from hot metal racks and hot aluminum products, which could weigh as much as 8,000 pounds, and for failing to provide sufficient, safe clearance for workers operating in oven one and oven two where aluminum extrusions are treated. A willful violation is one committed with intentional, knowing or voluntary disregard for the law’s requirement, or plain indifference to employee safety and health.
Six serious violations include failing to provide personal protective equipment in the hot ovens; have first aid responders at the facility; develop a written hazard assessment for unloading hot aluminum from the ovens; ensure the lockout procedure for oven one was utilized; conduct periodic inspections of energy control procedures; and address steps in emergency control procedures to dissipate stored thermal energy to a safe level. Additionally, the electrical emergency stop button for the door closest to the extrusion press was broken off on oven one. 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.
Because of the hazards and the violations cited, Extrudex Aluminum Inc. has been placed in OSHA’s Severe Violator Enforcement Program, which mandates targeted follow-up inspections to ensure compliance with the law. OSHA’s SVEP focuses on recalcitrant employers that endanger workers by committing willful, repeat or failure-to-abate violations. Under the program, OSHA may inspect any of the employer’s facilities if it has reasonable grounds to believe there are similar violations.
Proposed fines total $175,000. The current citations may be viewed by clicking HERE.
The company, headquartered in Canada, produces aluminum products for architectural, consumer and electrical uses. It operates two additional production plants in Canada and employs 152 workers at the North Jackson plant out of the 477 companywide. 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 Cleveland Area Office at 216-615-4266.
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.