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Employees Told to Return to Work with Chemical Burns

Troubled aluminum manufacturing company receives second largest OSHA fine in nearly two years.

New Jersey-based aluminum manufacturing company, Aluminum Shapes, has just received the second largest OSHA fine in two years.

According to the Department of Labor, the company has a long history of failing to meet OSHA's standards. After a recent inspection (Jan. 23, 2017), OSHA found 51 safety and health violations, and proposed penalties of $1,922,895.

Since 2011, Aluminum Shapes has been cited for 60 violations totaling  $516,753 in penalties.

Over the course of the last inspection, OSHA learned that two Aluminum Shapes employees were hospitalized during separate workplace incidents. The first incident happened when employees were draining residual sludge from a tank. The sludge contained dehydrated sodium hydroxide, aluminum oxide and decomposed metal. After reporting to their supervisors that they were experiencing chemical burns to their skin, they were told to re-enter the tank, where they suffered further chemical injuries. One employee was even hospitalized.

The second incident occurred when a machine operator suffered a broken pelvis after being caught between the unguarded moving parts of a metal fabrication machine.

The incidents happened after OSHA discovered three separate cases of employees losing parts of their fingers in three separate incidents. And don't forget that the company was at the center of a massive tariff evasion scheme in which they were allegedly disguising metal as shipping pallets that are then re-melted for other uses.

In this latest batch of fines, Aluminum Shapes, which manufactures aluminum parts for the automotive and machinery industries among others, was cited for everything from failure to use and train employees on proper lockout/tagout procedures, and inadequate safety protection.

The $1.9 million fine is only second to Sunfield, Inc of OH. According to OSHA, the automotive metal stamping company was initially fined $2.9 million for 43 violations after a worker lost his arm when it was crushed on a press line.

Update: Aluminum Shapes has issued a statement on the safety problems at the manufacturer. 

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