The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has cited Columbus Steel Castings Co. for a series of alleged serious and repeat violations of federal workplace safety and health standards, and proposed penalties totaling $102,000. The steel foundry has been given 15 business days from receipt of the citations to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA's area director, or contest the citations and proposed penalties.

Columbus, OH-based Columbus Steel Castings produces components ranging from 10 to 4,500 lb for the rail car industry, transportation, and mining equipment markets, in carbon, low- and high-alloy, stainless, low-temperature steel, and heat-resistant steel grades. It is often described as the largest steel foundry in North America.

OSHA's comprehensive safety and health inspection was conducted as a follow-up to a 2006 inspection in which Columbus Steel Castings Co. was cited for 60 violations of federal workplace safety and health standards. Those citations resulted in $257,000 in penalties. Columbus Steel Castings has been inspected 12 times since 2003, including the 2006 inspection. During its previous organization as Buckeye Steel Castings, the plant was inspected 71 times between 1972 and 2003.

The current citations include several repeat violations for failure to enforce hazardous energy control; to apply a lock on an energy isolation device; to guard the point of operation on a jag press; inadequate protection against welding rays; airborne overexposures to silica; and failure to implement engineering or administrative controls for silica overexposures. The penalties proposed for these citations total of $62,500.

OSHA issues a repeat violation when it discovers violation that is a substantially similar to one for which an employer has been cited in the past, at any of its facilities in federal enforcement states.

Also, Columbus Steel Castings has received citations for 12 serious violations, including failure to provide adequate training on hazardous energy control or flashback protection on fuel-gas torches; to have procedures for selection of respirators; to provide inspection, maintenance and cleaning procedures for respirators; overexposure prevention to hexavalent chromium; and proper training for airborne exposures to cadmium and lead. The penalties proposed for these citations total $39,500.

A serious citation is issued when there is substantial probability that death or serious physical harm may result from a hazard about which the employer knew or should have known.

"It is extremely important that companies ensure safety and health procedures are initiated and enforced, especially while working with hazardous materials such as hexavalent chromium or when working around high-energy equipment," stated OSHA’s Columbus area director Deborah Zubaty.