Environment
4:32 pm
Fri March 2, 2012

Westinghouse Faces Fines for Alleged Worker Safety Violations

A Westinghouse plant in Newington New Hampshire is facing $82,000 in fines for workplace safety violations.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has cited Westinghouse Electric for allegedly exposing workers to hexavalent chromium at its stainless steel component manufacturing facility in Newington.

In response to a complaint, an OSHA inspection found that employees performing welding work were exposed to airborne concentrations of the carcinogen in excess of permissible limits.

Hexavalent chromium can cause damage to eyes and skin upon contact.

“If you inhale it then it can damage your nose, throat and lungs," says OSHA Spokesman Ted Fitzgerald. "Long-term inhalation that can lead to lung cancer, so it is a substance where the exposure to workers must be regulated tightly.”

Fitzgerald says Westinghouse was cited with five serious violations, with proposed fines  of $27,000.

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.

The company was also issued one willful citation with a $55,000 fine for failing to establish a regulated work area around employees exposed.

Westinghouse has 15 days to comply, meet with OSHA officials, or contest the findings.

A meetings with OSHA officials may or may not result in settlement.