Upper Nazareth Township, Pa.-based Essroc Cement Corp. is facing $92,000 in federal fines after it exposed its workers to machine, noise and respiratory hazards at its Middlebranch, Ohio, plant, reported The Morning Call.

The U.S. Department of Labor Occupational Safety and Health Administration's (OSHA’s) Cleveland area office recently issued citations to Essroc for one repeated and 10 serious safety and health violations. The agency said it opened an investigation in November 2015 under OSHA’s National Emphasis Programs on amputation and silica hazards after receiving a complaint alleging unsafe working conditions at the Middlebranch facility.

According to Scott Allen, OSHA's regional director for public affairs, the site was originally covered by MSHA because it was attached to a mine. The mine closed in 1998, but the attached processing plant stayed open. The plant has a rolling ball mill operation where they receive stone from Canada, and they process it at this plant. Because it is not part of an attached mining operation it is now covered by OSHA.

OSHA said its investigators found Essroc failed to: install machine guarding on rotating barrels; develop machine-specific safety procedures to control hazardous energy; protect workers from excessive noise exposure; establish a hearing conservation program including baseline and annual audiograms; develop a respiratory protection program including medical evaluations and fit-testing; train workers to operate powered industrial vehicles; inspect fire extinguishers and cranes as required; and maintain dry, clean floors.

"Employers have a responsibility to protect workers from exposure to noise and respiratory hazards that can lead to debilitating health conditions," said Howard Eberts, OSHA's area director in Cleveland. "Essroc needs to immediately re-evaluate its safety and health programs to keep workers safe on the job."

Craig Becker, senior vice president of human resources at Essroc, said the company will be requesting a conference within the 15-day period to discuss the citations as written by OSHA.

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