23 Citations to Florida Manufacturer Underscore the Importance of Compliance with Respiratory and Toxic and Hazardous Substances Standards

OSHA recently cited a Florida manufacturer for 23 safety and health violations with proposed penalties totaling $106,000 for exposing workers to dangerous welding fumes and other hazards. Of the 23 alleged violations, 19 were classified as “serious violations,” that is, a substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result. The inspection — conducted as part of OSHA’s national emphasis program on amputations — resulted in violations in two main categories: respiratory protection (29 CFR 1910.134) and toxic and hazardous substances – hexavalent chromium (29 CFR 1910.1026). 

OSHA’s respiratory protection standard is the fourth most frequently cited standard and, in this instance, the alleged violations included the following: (1) the selection of the respirators was not based on the hazards to which the workers were exposed; (2) employees using tight-fitting facepiece respirators were not fit tested prior to their initial use of the respirator; (3) respirators with tight-fitting facepieces were worn by employees with facial hair that came between the sealing surface of the facepiece and the face; (4) respiratory protection retraining was not conducted annually; and (5) evaluations of the workplace were not conducted to ensure that the written respiratory protection program was being effectively implemented.

In addition to the alleged respiratory violations, the manufacturer was cited for allegedly exposing workers to hexavalent chromium above the eight hour exposure limit; failing to conduct initial monitoring of hexavalent chromium to determine the eight hour exposure average; and failing to provide medical surveillance for employees exposed to hexavalent chromium for more than 30 days. Notably, hexavalent chromium is known to cause cancer.

As stated by Brian Sturtecky, OSHA’s area director in Jacksonville, “It is critically important that employers [such as the manufacturer here] take effective steps to monitor, identify, and reduce exposure levels to safeguard their employees’ health.”

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