By NICOLE ANTONUCCI
FONDA -- An aluminum products manufacturer on Cayadutta Street has been fined $53,000 by federal regulators for several worker safety violations.
Keymark Corp. was cited by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration for 11 serious violations, including exposure to the hazardous substance chromium, high noise levels, and falls.
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, according to OSHA.
"These employees faced both short- and long-term risks to their health and well-being, ranging from potentially fatal falls and hearing loss to cumulative damage to the respiratory system, kidneys, liver, skin and eyes from chromium exposure," said Kimberly Castillon, OSHA's area director in Albany. "Keymark must take prompt and effective action to ensure that these conditions are corrected and do not pose future risk to employees."
The U.S Department of Labor regional director for public affairs Ted Fitzgerald said the citations follow inspections that started in March by the Albany area office, after an employee made a complaint to the agency. The inspection was completed July 17 and the company was found in violation.
Calls to Keymark Corp. for comment were not returned.
In a release issued Monday by the department, OSHA claims employees were exposed to high noise levels and that Keymark did not ensure the use of hearing protectors or train workers in their use and care.
Keymark allegedly failed to check that personal protective equipment, clothing and respiratory devices were provided, used and maintained in a sanitary condition, and that workers were trained to use them.
Keymark also failed to determine workers' exposure levels to chromium and ensure that surfaces were free from chromium accumulation; to ensure proper, clean changing areas for employees' working with chromium; and to ensure that chromium-contaminated clothing was stored and transported in sealed containers.
In addition, employees were at risk of 17-foot falls into a work pit that lacked a guard rail and to being caught in or injured by unintended machinery start-up. Procedures and training for turning off machine power sources before maintenance and servicing were lacking, the release states.
Fitzgerald said Thursday Keymark has contacted the OSHA office to schedule a meeting but the date and time have yet to be determined. During the meeting, Keymark has the opportunity to explain why there were violations or agree to comply and pay the fine.
"If an agreement can't be reached or the company foregoes that option, the company could contest to the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission," Fitzgerald said.
This is the second time Keymark has been in violation of safety regulations. The company had to pay $1,700 in fines for two serious violations in August 2013, Fitzgerald said.
The company has offices in Fonda and Lakeland, Fla. Keymark has been manufacturing industrial aluminum products since 1964, according to the company's website.