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November 17, 2021
OSHA fines Wisconsin foundry over $200,000

On November 2, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) cited a northern Wisconsin foundry with 1 willful, 7 serious, and 5 other-than-serious violations in a 51-page citing document. Waupaca Foundry of Marinette, Wisconsin, faces $200,895 in proposed penalties.

Two workers suffered severe injuries this summer, and OSHA initiated three separate safety and health inspections. In May, a worker lost two fingers to amputation, and in July, an overhead hot metal carrier struck and injured another worker.  

While OSHA officials were investigating the May 4 amputation incident at Waupaca Foundry Inc. in Marinette, they opened a second inspection under the agency’s National Emphasis Program (NEP) for Primary Metals. Inspectors found violations related to exposures to respirable crystalline silica and excessive occupational noise. During the NEP inspection, the employer reported the July 17 injury to inspectors, which led to a third inspection.

OSHA determined a lack of energy control procedures—lockout/tagout—exposed workers to hazards in both incidents.

The agency also cited Waupaca Foundry for the following violations:

  • 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 and administrative controls to reduce excessive noise exposures;
  • Exposure exceeding the personal exposure limit for respirable crystalline silica; and
  • Exposure to respirable crystalline silica due to inadequate engineering and administrative controls, dry sweeping, and cleaning with compressed air.

The agency determined the machine guarding violation was willful and serious, citing four separate machines in the foundry where workers were exposed to amputation, crushing, and laceration hazards created by point of operation, ingoing nip points, rotating parts, flying chips, and sparks.

Serious health and safety violations included violations of the fall protection, ladders, lockout/tagout, occupational noise exposure, walking-working surfaces, and wiring methods standards.

“Foundries are inherently dangerous industrial operations, where workers are exposed to hazards from machinery, trips and falls, occupational noise, and respirable silica,” OSHA’s Appleton, Wisconsin, Area Director Robert Bonack said in an agency statement.

The Labor Department’s Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports the foundry industry had a 6.4 percent rate of injury for every 100 workers in 2020.

“Employers are responsible for providing a safe and healthful workplace for their workers,” Bonack continued.

Waupaca Foundry Inc., owned by Hitachi Metals, is a leading supplier of iron castings to the automotive, commercial vehicle, agriculture, construction, and industrial markets, according to OSHA. The company is headquartered in Waupaca and employs approximately 4,500 people in Waupaca and Marinette; Tell City, Indiana; and Etowah, Tennessee.

OSHA vaccination, testing ETS

On November 6, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit issued an emergency stay of OSHA’s COVID-19 vaccination and testing emergency temporary standard (ETS), published November 5 in the Federal Register (86 FR 61402). The ETS requires employers with 100 or more employees to implement a program of COVID-19 vaccination or regular testing and face coverings to protect unvaccinated workers but does not require employers to pay for testing. The government had until November 8 to respond to the request for a permanent injunction, and the petitioners’ response was expected November 9.

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