The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration has cited Flex-N-Gate Corp. with nine serious safety and health violations.
According to OSHA's website, Flex-N-Gate, an Illinois-based company owned by Jaguars owner Shad Khan which operates as Guardian West in Urbana, failed to monitor worker's exposure to nickel, chromium, hydrochloric acid and sulfuric acid while cleaning electroplating tanks at the company's bumper manufacturing plant.
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Proposed fines total $57,000 following the December 2011 inspection.
"Employers such as Guardian West are responsible for knowing the hazards that exist in their manufacturing plants and taking the necessary procedures to ensure that workers are monitored for exposure to potentially harmful substances," said Tom Bielema, OSHA's area director in Peoria. "OSHA is committed to protecting workers on the job, especially when employers fail to do so."
Four of the violations are related to medical surveillance for workers performing decorative plating operations in regard to chromium and chromic acid exposure. These involve failing to provide periodic examinations of exposed body parts, especially nostrils; implement an effective respiratory program that includes training; identify and evaluate respiratory hazards; and provide medical evaluations for respirator use and fit-testing for respirators.
The remaining violations involve failing to conduct monitoring to determine the 8-hour, time-weighted 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 exposure standards as well as a description of employees' duties.
A serious violation 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.
Urbana-based Flex-N-Gate 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. The Urbana plant previously was inspected by OSHA in October 2010, resulting in citations for two serious violations.
The company has 15 business days from the receipt of the citations and penalties to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA's area director or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.
This isn't Khan's only company to come under fire. In April, a group protested Khan's handling of an idle Michigan auto parts plant he owns called Chrome Craft.
"He's able to buy a football team, but he's unable to clean up the mess that he left," protestor Michael Miley said.
The Chrome Craft property is one that many residents and workers believe is toxic and a hazard to the community where it's located. Michigan state environmental officials are currently investigating that site, but have not released their findings.
"We will be raising our voices and speaking truth to power and asking that power to do the right thing and care about the people," protestor Pastor David Bullock said.