MARINETTE, WI – The recent federal safety inspections of a northern Wisconsin foundry determined workplace safety failures caused two workers to suffer severe injuries. In May, a worker lost two fingers to amputation and in July, an overhead hot metal carrier struck and injured another worker. US Department of Labor proposes $200K in fines for the foundry. The company has 15 business days to comply, request a conference, or contest the findings before the independent OSHRC. Waupaca Foundry Inc. is a leading supplier of iron castings to the automotive, commercial vehicle, agriculture, construction, and industrial markets.
A Total of Three Inspections Led to Penalties of $200K
While OSHA investigated the incident at Waupaca Foundry Inc. in Marinette, the agency opened a second scheduled inspection under its National Emphasis Program for Primary Metals. Inspectors found violations related to exposures to respirable crystalline silica and noise. The employer reported the July 17 injury to inspectors during the second inspection, which led to a third inspection. After completing the three inspections, OSHA issued one willful, seven serious, and five other-than-serious violations to Waupaca Foundry. The proposed penalties are $200,895.
- Exposure to fall hazards to a lower level.
- Exposure to trip hazards due to partially covered pit openings.
- Inadequate machine guarding.
- Use of damaged fixed ladders.
- Inadequate engineering/administrative controls to reduce excessive noise exposures.
- Exposure exceeding the personal exposure limit for respirable crystalline silica.
- Exposure to respirable crystalline silica due to inadequate engineering and administrative controls, dry sweeping, and cleaning with compressed air.
The foundry industry had a 6.4 percent rate of injury in 2020
The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the foundry industry had a 6.4 percent injury rate for every 100 workers in 2020. “Foundries are inherently dangerous industrial operations. The workers are exposed to hazards from machinery, trips and falls, occupational noise, and respirable silica,” said OSHA Area Director Robert Bonack in Appleton. “Employers are responsible for providing a safe and healthful workplace for their workers,” he continued.
In conclusion, establishing a complete and comprehensive Lockout Tagout program that includes clear and precise lockout procedures for all workers is imperative. Partnering with certified lockout technicians and safety experts on developing LOTO procedures and placards allows faster and more accurate turnaround times. Additionally, routine safety training can also prevent accidents and avoid fines, ensuring the highest level of safety and efficiency in your workplace.
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