Health & Safety ScrabbleThe company U.S. Minerals received four repeated, three serious, and two other-than-serious OSHA violations at its coal slag facility. As a result of the violations, the company is facing penalties of $113,300. These violations come just two years after the company pledged to address health and safety violations in a corporate settlement agreement. The violations were imposed after employees in Roberts, Wisconsin were exposed to amputation and crushing hazards by conveyers. Additionally, the employees faced fall hazards when they were expected to unclog a chute at a height of 25 feet without adequate fall protection systems.

In addition to fall and machine hazards, a known carcinogen – hexavalent chromium – was found in recreational areas where employees eat. OSHA found that employees were not trained on hazardous chemicals in the workplace or the potential health effects of interacting with them. Nor were they trained on protective measures to be taken to avoid overexposure. Hexavalent chromium is a chemical compound that targets the respiratory system, kidneys, liver, skin and eyes. Workplace exposure to hexavalent chromium can cause damage to the nose, throat, lung, eyes and skin, and inhalation of airborne hexavalent chromium has been shown to cause lung cancer in workers.

Safety Data Sheets (SDSs) are an important part of hazard communication programs. OSHA’s Hazard Communication Standard requires that the chemical manufacturers, distributors, or importers provide GHS-compliant SDSs for each hazardous material in the workplace. OSHA’s deadline for GHS compliance is June 1, 2015, all employers are expected to have established GHS-compliant SDSs to communicate potential health effects and hazards in the workplace. Employers who do not have SDSs accessible for employees may face OSHA violations.