The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) cited Torrance Casting, Inc. for ten safety violations.
OSHA was investigating an incident that led to the death of Torrance Casting worker Eric Lecher. He died after falling into a cold furnace on July 29, 2013. OSHA said Lecher, who had been working at the foundry for about two years, was working alone in a permit-required confined space while conducting maintenance.
Nine serious violations were issued, OSHA stated. A violation is serious if death or serious physical harm could result from a hazard an employer knew or should have known exists. OSHA has proposed penalties of $47,700.
Torrance Casting, Inc. was cited for failing to:
- Implement a written confined space permit program and develop procedures and practices to allow safe entry for electric inductive furnaces.
- Prepare an entry permit prior to entry into the inductive furnace.
- Provide an attendant outside the permit space for the duration of the entry operation.
Other violations include:
- Failing to ensure employees pouring metal and shifting weights were wearing arm protection and using face shields.
- Failing to include the health effects of silica, copper and other hazardous materials in employee training programs.
- Failing to have a workbench for the stand grinder.
- Allowing a worker to clean equipment suspended by a half-ton chain hoist.
- Using electrical equipment in the powdered paint room not rated for such use.
"Torrance Casting has a responsibility to protect workers from known hazards," Kim Stille, OSHA's area director in Madison, said in a statement. "In this case, OSHA’s permit-required confined space standards explain how to keep workers safe when entering these spaces. Preventable deaths are completely unacceptable, and employers are responsible for ensuring that they do not happen at their facilities."
Torrance Casting released a statement responding to the OSHA violations. In part, it states, "It is important to note that none of these Citations would have prevented this tragic accident. On July 29, 2013 Eric was performing a routine maintenance procedure called a 'top cap' on a cold furnace. The furnace extends up approximately 3 feet from the working floor and is 5 feet deep and about 2 feet wide on this inside. The 'top cap' procedure is done from the outside of the furnace and is normally a safe procedure. The employee lost his footing while reaching and tumbled into the small structure head first. [...] We will never forget Eric. We keep him and his family in our throughts and prayers daily." Click here for the full response from Torrance Casting.