An aluminum manufacturing company that produces products used in the glass and glazing industry is facing nearly $2 million in fines from the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).

Last week, Aluminum Shapes LLC of Delair, N.J., was hit with 51 safety and health violations and proposed penalties of $1,922,895 in the wake of an OSHA inspection that began in January 2017. It’s the latest in a long streak of OSHA citations for the company. Since 2011, the agency has inspected the facility eight times, issuing $516,753 in penalties for 60 violations. The most recent string of violation occurred between January and April of 2017, according to OSHA documents.

During its 2017 inspection, OSHA inspectors learned that two employees had been hospitalized as a result of separate workplace incidents.

In the first incident, two employees entered a tank to drain residual sludge containing dehydrated sodium hydroxide, aluminum oxide and decomposed metal, according to OSHA. After telling their supervisors that they were experiencing chemical burns to their skin and attempting to wash off the chemicals, employees were directed to re-enter the tank, where they suffered further chemical injuries. That led to the hospitalization of one employee.

OSHA says the second incident occurred when a machine operator’s pelvis was broken after being caught between the unguarded moving parts of a metal fabrication machine.

OSHA issued willful citations due the company’s failure to:

  • Provide appropriate personal protective equipment;
  • Conduct air monitoring prior to permit-required confined space entry;
  • Have an attendant during permit-required confined space entry;
  • Complete a required confined space entry permit to identify, evaluate and control hazards in the space;
  • Provide confined space training;
  • Utilize proper lockout/tagout procedures;
  • Provide workers with locks and hardware to lock out equipment being serviced, maintained or repaired;
  • Lack of specific procedures for the use of blocking devices;
  • Utilize group lockout procedures, and;
  • Train workers in lockout/tagout.

“Despite its lengthy OSHA history, Aluminum Shapes still does not comply with federal safety and health standards,” said Paula Dixon-Roderick, director of OSHA’s Marlton, N.J., area office. “These hazards leave workers vulnerable to the risk of serious injury and possible death.”

OSHA also cited the company for repeat violations, including fall hazards, lack of stair rails and machine guarding, and electrical hazards. Additionally, Aluminum Shapes received serious citations for inadequate ladders, inappropriate respiratory and hearing protection, insufficient entry permits, and lack of machine guarding and hazardous chemical training.

Other-than-serious violations included the company’s failure to record each injury on its injury log.

“Aluminum Shapes’ extensive list of violations reflects a workplace that does not prioritize worker safety and health,” says Robert Kulick, OSHA’s regional administrator in New York. “The company can more effectively protect its workers by implementing a comprehensive safety and health management system.”

In a statement, Aluminum Shapes said it had taken numerous steps to improve worker safety before OSHA’s most recent citations.

“Prior to OSHA’s findings, and as part of our larger revitalization and modernization efforts, we began working to improve safety throughout our facility, tripling the number of safety professionals, hiring an OSHA specialist to help guide our compliance efforts, and adding a widely-respected safety professional to our management team,” the statement reads. “These improvements have made a significant, positive impact on our culture. We have been diligent in addressing the issues OSHA cited in past inspections. The vast majority of the issues raised in these past inspections were addressed before OSHA’s latest visit. The investments we have made in the facility—from the millions of dollars we have put toward safety improvements to the new equipment that is safer and more efficient—are working. However, OSHA’s new fee structure results in higher fine amounts and unfair media attention even as conditions improve.”

Aluminum Shapes manufactures aluminum parts used by several industries, including curtainwall and storefront, as well as commercial and residential doors and windows.

The company has 15 business days from receipt of the citations and proposed penalties to contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.