OSHA hits Ohio scrap yard with torch cutting-related fine

Agency says CS Metals exposed employees to dangerous levels of lead, copper and arsenic fumes.

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has reported that scrap processing firm CS Metals has exposed three employees to dangerous levels of lead, arsenic, iron oxide and copper particles and fumes while torch-cutting steel at a scrap yard in St. Marys, Ohio, in the western part of the state. The yard in St. Marys is operated by OmniSource Corp., Fort Wayne, Indiana.

The claim follows a June 2014 investigation conducted by the agency.

OSHA says CS Metals failed to provide the required personal protective equipment or health monitoring mandated in the situation. The agency has proposed penalties of $378,000 for five willful, nine serious and two repeated safety violations. OSHA also placed the company in its severe violator enforcement program.

“CS Metals failed its workers by not providing personal protective equipment and monitoring exposure levels to metal dust, which can cause severe, long-term health effects to the central nervous system and vital organs,” says Kim Nelson, OSHA’s area director in Toledo. “OSHA's investigation found deficiencies with CS Metals' compliance programs for lead exposure, arsenic and other hazardous air contaminants. These violations must stop.”

OSHA’s report also found that CS Metals' workers were not required to shower at the end of shifts to prevent metal particles from being transported. The company also failed to implement engineering controls that would have limited exposure; failed to provide separate containers to dispose of lead-contaminated clothing; or ensured that workers who were required to wear respirators were clean-shaven. OSHA cited CS Metals for the five willful violations, which are violations committed with intentional, knowing or voluntary disregard for the law's requirement, or with plain indifference to employee safety and health.

OSHA issued CS Metals with citations for overexposure to iron oxide, lack of hygiene and housekeeping practices. In 2010, CS Metals was cited for the same violations at its Birmingham, Alabama, facility. OSHA issues repeated violations when a company has been cited for the same or a similar violation at any facility in federal enforcement states within the past five years.

Additionally, CS Metals did not implement an arsenic compliance program, which allowed workers to be overexposed; did not provide properly fitted respirators; and failed to train workers in respiratory protection use and storage.

OSHA cited the company for nine serious violations, which occur 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.

OSHA opened the inspection, which included air and surface sampling, under the National Emphasis Program for Lead after the agency received a complaint that alleged unsafe working conditions. The inspection was expanded to include investigations of the host employer, OmniSource-St. Marys, which was cited for three serious violations that carry proposed penalties of $21,000.

Nicholas D. Starr Inc., operating as Master Maintenance, was cited for two serious violations with proposed penalties of $9,000. Master Maintenance is a subcontractor hired by OmniSource-St. Marys. All of the violations involved employee lead exposure.

CS Metals, based in Houston, operates facilities in Texas, Indiana and Ohio that employ about 80 workers. Three workers were employed at the St. Marys site.

Each 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.

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