Wisconsin Company Faces over $200K In OSHA Penalties

toni sutton-Deangelico

Niagara, WI (WorkersCompensation.com – Accusations of continually exposing workers to machine hazards have resulted in penalties of $206,291 against a Wisconsin company. OSHA cited Koller Industries, which is operating as Aurora Casting Services, for multiple willful and serious violations.

According to the Citation and Notification of Penalty document, a representative of the company met with an OSHA compliance officer in February as part of an inspection at its facility in Niagara. Among the serious violations alleged were:

  • Failure to conduct periodic inspections of the company’s energy control procedures including performing servicing and maintenance tasks on its stand grinders, pneumatic bench grinders, air compressors, outdoor wood boiler, dust collectors, and electrical equipment, among others.
  • Exposing workers to grinding wheels that had not been ring-tested prior to their installation, thereby creating struck-by and impalement hazards.
  • Allowing workers to operate a DeWalt 4.5-inch angle grinder with the safety guard removed to grind castings.
  • Failing to effectively close two unused knockout openings on a junction box providing power to the grinding lines above one of the stations.
  • Failing to effectively close a conduit above five grinding stations that was pulled apart from the junction box, exposing the conductors to strain and abrasion.
  • Failing to close the motor of the junction box providing power to the electric motor powering the Fox Model 630R4 stand grinder, placing strain on the conductors and exposing them to strain and abrasion.

OSHA also cited the company for the following willful and repeat violations:

  • Failing to ensure a safety guard covering the spindle end, nut, and flange projection on five of the pneumatic bench grinders. OSHA said these are mounted and utilized, exposing employees to struck-by hazards if the nut and wheel were to become lose and project off the equipment, along with entanglement hazards.
  • ·Failing to ensure work rests were utilized and adjusted to within one-eighth inch of the wheel on one of the pneumatic bench grinders. The work rest was more than one-eighth of an inch away from the wheel, exposing employees to struck-by hazards during wheel failure and caught-in hazards between the work rest and wheel.
  • Exposing workers to abrasion hazards due to work rests that were adjusted to point downward and not used to support the work during grinding of parts, if workers were to drop the part and inadvertently contact the wheel, and struck-by hazards if the wheel were to fail.

In April OSHA revisited the facility and cited the company for a serious violation, saying the employer did not maintain an audiometric testing program by making annual audiometric testing available to all employees when:

  • A worker that was at a Chip & Spool station was exposed to an 8-hour time-weighted average (TWA) sound level of 90.1 decibels measured on the A scale (dBA), or equivalently, a noise dose of 102.4 percent. This exceeds an 8-hour TWA of 85 dBA, or equivalently, a noise dose of 50 percent. The sampling was performed for 269 minutes during one shift on that day.
  • An employee at a pedestal grinder was exposed to an 8-hour TWA sound level of 87.2 dBA, or equivalently, a noise dose of 67.9 percent. This exceeds an 8-hour TWA of 85 dBA, or equivalently, a noise dose of 50 percent. The sampling was performed for 290 minutes during a shift.

“The failure to properly test grinding wheels for defects, and use machine guarding and safety procedures exposes employees to serious injuries,” said Robert Bonack, OSHA’s area director. “Employers should develop a comprehensive safety and health program to ensure that workers are provided with a safe and healthful workplace.” He noted the company was cited in November 2015 for the same machine hazards.

Koller Industries has contested the findings, and will appear at a later date before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

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