OSHA Cites Omaha Stone-Cutting Business

By: WOWT 6 News Email
By: WOWT 6 News Email

If a worker believes they're working in unsafe conditions they can always call OSHA’s toll-free hotline at 800-321-6742 or the agency’s Omaha Area Office at 402-553-0171.

OSHA is fining a West Omaha business for exposing workers to dangerous levels of a hazardous dust. Baltazar's Stone Inc. faces a $40,921 citation.

An investigation stretching half a year led OSHA to discover workers had been exposed to dangerous silica dust levels and other hazards.

The dust can cause an irreversible lung disease called silicosis as well as an increased risk of developing lung cancer and pulmonary tuberculosis.

“Occupational exposure to crystalline silica often occurs as part of common workplace tasks involving cutting, sawing, drilling and crushing of concrete, brick, block, rock and stone,” said Bonita Winingham, OSHA’s area director in Omaha. “Employers must ensure that going to work is not hazardous to worker health.”

Baltazar's was cited for 13 serious violations. Three of their stone-cutters were exposed to silica at nearly three times the exposure limit.

Inspectors say the company failed to implement administrative and engineering controls to reduce exposure; and failed to train workers on silica hazards.

OSHA says the company failed to implement a written respiratory protection program, or conduct medical evaluation and fit testing for respirators.

They're also citing the company for not monitoring noise hazards for employees.

Baltazar's owner, Baltazar Sauceda, tells WOWT 6 News that he plans to contest several of the fines, which he believes are redundant. He specifically pointed to respiration and noise violations.

"We are constantly improving things so [the employees] are working in a safe environment," Sauceda told WOWT. "It's not easy to make it safe, but we work hard to make sure it is."

He says they are willing to pay some of those fines.

The business has 15 business days from Monday's citations to comply, request a conference with OSHA's area director or contest the findings before an independent commission.

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