The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) cited a Camp Hill company for exposing workers to toxic chemicals and other various safety hazards.
The hydraulic service & repair, machining, and chroming business now faces $280,874 in penalties. In all, OSHA issued one willful violation, 18 serious citations, and two other-than-serious citations.
According to OSHA, the investigation began in July 2019 when they received a complaint of overexposure to toxic fumes created by hexavalent chromium, which is known to cause cancer, and targets the respiratory system, kidneys, liver, skin & eyes.
The company was also cited for failing to train employees on the hazards of hexavalent chromium, and to maintain a respiratory protection program.
OSHA said the firm has 15 days to pay the fine, request an informal conference or contest the penalty before the agency’s review commission.
What is Hexavalent Chromium?
Hexavalent chromium is a toxic compound that’s widely used in many different industries.
It’s often found in anti-corrosive agents added to paints, primers, and surface coatings. If inhaled, hexavalent chromium may cause severe damage to the respiratory tract. It can also cause irritation of the eyes and skin, if they come into contact with the compound in high concentrations.
Common symptoms of hexavalent chromium exposure include: Runny nose, sneezing, coughing, itching or a burning sensation in the nose, throat, or lungs.
Prolonged exposure can cause sores in the nose and may result in nosebleeds. Some employees may also be allergic to the compound, which leads to asthma symptoms, such as wheezing or shortness of breath.
According to OSHA, workplace exposure mainly occurs in the following areas:
- Welding and other types of “hot work” on stainless steel and other metals that contain chromium
- Use of pigments, spray paints and coatings
- Operating chrome plating baths
If hexavalent chromium comes into contact with the skin, employees may also develop allergic skin reactions called allergic contact dermatitis.
OSHA on Reducing Hexavalent Chromium Exposure
“Occupational exposure to hexavalent chromium can result in significant adverse health effects for employees,” said OSHA Harrisburg Area Director David Olah in a press release.
“Engineering controls must be implemented and affected employees must be trained to recognize the hazards of this toxic chemical.”
Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health Loren Sweatt added that, “employers must continually evaluate their facilities for hazards, and use proper safety controls and equipment to protect workers’ safety.”
“OSHA provides free resources to help employers comply with hexavalent chromium standards.”
Find resources on protecting your employees from the health and safety hazards caused by the toxic chemical on OSHA’s hexavalent chromium webpage, which includes the Small Entity Compliance Guide for the Hexavalent Chromium Standards.
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