By Patrick Wade URBANA, ILL.
The company owned by Jacksonville Jaguars owner Shad Khan is facing $57,000 in fines after the Occupational Safety and Health Administration found “serious” violations affecting workers at one of its plant. Workers at Flex-N-Gate Corp.’s plant in Urbana, known as Guardian West, were exposed to dangerous chemicals and did not receive proper training, examinations and monitoring from their employer, an OSHA spokeswoman told the News-Gazette.
Representatives for the company could not be reached for comment by the News-Gazette on Thursday or by the Times-Union on Saturday.
Flex-N-Gate Corp., headquartered in Urbana, is a manufacturer of bumpers and other parts for the automotive industry. The company employs more than 12,450 people at 50 manufacturing and nine product development and engineering facilities throughout the United States, Canada, Mexico, Argentina, Brazil and Spain.
OSHA issued the citation for nine violations on Thursday resulting from a December 2011 inspection. All were classified as serious, which “occurs when there is substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result from a hazard about which the employer knew or should have known,” according to an OSHA news release.
Four of the nine cite inadequate medical surveillance for workers exposed to chromium and chromic acid.
“Chromium produces small dust particles that, when breathed, can be dangerous to your health,” OSHA spokeswoman Rhonda Burke said.
The chemical can irritate or damage workers’ noses, throats and lungs, according to OSHA, and may cause lung cancer if inhaled at high levels.
Flex-N-Gate failed to provide periodic examinations of exposed body parts, especially nostrils; implement an effective respiratory program that includes training; identify and evaluate respiratory hazards; provide medical evaluations for respirator use; and provide fit-testing for respirators, OSHA stated.
The remaining violations were issued for Flex-N-Gate’s failure to monitor the average exposure to chromium for each employee; maintain surfaces free of chromium accumulations; provide effective information and training on hazardous chemicals in the work area during a worker’s initial assignment or when a new hazard is introduced to the work area; and provide medical examinations for chromium exposure while ensuring that the medical professional conducting exams has copies of the exposure standards as well as a description of employees’ duties.
Part of the problem, Burke said, was that Flex-N-Gate did not adequately communicate training and hazards to its employees. The plant has a high concentration of Congolese workers whose native language is French.
Flex-N-Gate has 15 business days to fix the violations, request an informal conference with OSHA’s area director, or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.
Guardian West previously was inspected by OSHA in October 2010, resulting in citations for two serious violations.
Read more at Jacksonville.com: http://jacksonville.com/news/metro/2012-06-17/story/company-owned-jaguars-owner-cited-osha#ixzz1yAGAkQqW