Dyer company faces $195,470 fine for safety violations

2014-02-25T06:30:00Z Dyer company faces $195,470 fine for safety violationsJoseph S. Pete joseph.pete@nwi.com, (219) 933-3316 nwitimes.com
February 25, 2014 6:30 am  • 

DYER | Federal labor officials are fining a Dyer-based company $195,570 for six safety violations inspectors found at an Illinois plant last year, but the business is appealing.

U.S. Minerals LLC failed to provide fall protection and personal protective equipment, and also failed to adopt procedures to control hazardous energy at its Baldwin, Ill., facility, according to the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

Thomas Bielema, OSHA's area director in Peoria, said the company has a history of safety violations at facilities across the country, including at the same plant four years ago.

"U.S. Minerals continues to expose workers to hazards associated with energy control procedures, including willfully violating lockout and tagout procedures and exposing workers to amputation hazards," Bielema said. "U.S. Minerals repeatedly has been cited at this facility and others for failing to protect workers from these hazards. OSHA is committed to ensuring employers abide by the law, which requires common-sense safety practices that U.S. Minerals must follow."

The Dyer-based company has contested the charges, said OSHA spokesman Scott Allen. The appeals process could take up to a year and should ultimately be decided by an administrative law judge.

U.S. Minerals disputes OSHA citations that were issued after a two-day inspection of the Baldwin facility in July.

"Upon careful review of the citations and the facts in the case, the company determined that it was in compliance with the safety standards cited by OSHA," the company said in a statement. "As a result of this determination, U.S. Minerals is asserting its legal rights and has contested each of the citations issued by the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission. The company looks forward to presenting its evidence to show that it is in compliance with the OSHA safety standards and regulations."

The company makes coal slag and iron silicate roofing granules, abrasives and fillers. Headquartered in Dyer, the business operates plants in Illinois, Texas, Louisiana, Kansas and Wisconsin.

In July, inspectors found the Baldwin plant did not have guards on railings, exposing workers to falls of up to 40 feet. They also faulted the company for not having lockout procedures that would prevent equipment from unexpectedly starting up during routine maintenance.

A serious violation was issued after inspectors found that U.S. Minerals did not provide protective gear that would keep workers from falling off of equipment

Repeated violations included a lack of procedures for servicing equipment, a failure to do an annual inspection of energy control devises, and an absence of lockout devises during maintenance.

OSHA inspectors have cited U.S. Minerals for those same three violations at its Baldwin plant in 2010. the company was fined $466,400 that year for 35 health and safety violations that included failing to provide workers with adequate breathing protection when they were exposed to dangerous levels of dust.

The federal agency then inspected the company's other plants, and cited it for another 96 safety violations. The company has since been assigned to OSHA's Severe Violator Enforcement Program, which requires regular follow-up inspections.

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