Two metal processing plants in California have been ordered by the South Coast Air Quality Management District to lessen hexavalent chromium, which is a cancer-causing pollutant that is threatening the community. Now, they are both facing stiff fines and citations after inspections that were carried out at the facilities by the California Division of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. The inspections took place in December, and Cal/OSHA has recently announced its findings and proposed fines for citations of safety violations that could lead to workplace injuries.
In the aluminum processing and plating operations at Anaplex, employees were exposed to hazardous substances such as sulfuric acid, chromic acid and nitric acid. Inspectors found that employees were uninformed about the dangers posed by these substances. Furthermore, workers had no eye protection against chemical splashes or eyewash stations for emergencies. Their respirators were inadequate, and they were not trained in the proper disinfection and cleaning of these apparatus. Also, the company failed to provide protective clothing.
At the other firm, Aerocraft, OSHA inspectors identified a safety violation caused by the lack of guard railing around the massive oil quench tanks that hold 33,000 gallons of extremely hazardous material that could cause death if workers should fall into it. The lack of hearing protection was also the source of a citation. The company has established a hearing protection program and is also working on instituting the required protection at the tanks.
Employees whose safety is disregarded by their employers may be concerned about their welfare and the consequences they might have to face if they suffer workplace injuries. However, the California workers' compensation insurance program offers benefits that will cover medical expenses and a portion of lost wages. The filing of claims can be complicated, but the help of experienced workers' comp attorneys is available.
Source: scpr.org, "Toxic metal plants cited for not protecting workers from hazardous materials", Rebecca Plevin, July 12, 2017