HUBBARD - The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration has cited Ball Aerosol and Specialty Container with 11 safety violations and proposed a fine of nearly $590,000.
The violations include seven willful and three repeat, stemming from what OSHA described as "exposing workers to machine guarding hazards at its Hubbard metal container manufacturing facility."
OSHA reported that it inspected the facility Oct. 17 after receiving a complaint that alleged Ball Aerosol was exposing machine operators to unguarded hazardous machinery. The company was cited by OSHA in 2009 for a similar violation.
An OSHA media statement indicated the inspection revealed the guarding was missing "because it slowed material positioning and production output."
"Ball Aerosol's management made a decision to continue to expose machine operators to serious amputation hazards," said Nick Walters, OSHA's regional administrator in Chicago. "Workers should not be asked to take such risks, and OSHA will not tolerate such disregard for worker safety."
A spokeswoman for Ball disagreed with OSHA's characterizations regarding conditions at the Hubbard plant and said the company intends to dispute the claim. According to OSHA, the company has 15 days to contest the citations.
"Ball Aerosol and Specialty Container Inc. disagree strongly with the OSHA citation and characterizations," said Renee Robinson, manager of corporate communications for Ball Corp. in Colorado.
"We take this issue very seriously and have begun a review of OSHA's citation and the safety processes we have in place. We will take whatever measures that are appropriate at the end of this review to ensure that we are continuing to maintain a safe environment for our employees," Robinson said.
Other violations included failing to provide fire extinguisher training to employees and for exposing workers to falls of approximately 10 feet while working on a platform with open sides.
Ball Aerosol has been placed in OSHA's "Severe Violator Enforcement Program," which mandates targeted follow-up inspections to ensure compliance with the law.
The company, headquartered in Broomfield, Colo., produces small metal containers for use by a variety of food, beverage and chemical industries. The company employs about 12,000 workers worldwide. The Hubbard facility employs 57 workers and specializes in the production of three-piece welded paint and general lines cans.