HILL AIR FORCE BASE -- A contractor that provides aircraft maintenance work at Hill has been cited for numerous health violations related to exposing workers to hazardous contaminants.
The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration announced this week that it has cited Affordable Engineering Services LLC, a contractor at Hill, with 12 "serious safety and health violations," with proposed penalties from the violations totaling $51,850.
The violations were discovered when OSHA began its planned safety and health inspection at Hill at the beginning of this year.
The inspection was conducted under OSHA's Federal Agency Targeting Inspection Program, which is designed to focus on federal work sites experiencing a high number of work-related injuries and illnesses.
The violations discovered during the inspection include: exposing workers to air contaminants, including hexavalent chromium, cadmium and methylene chloride; lack of engineering controls for air contaminants; lack of engineering controls for noise exposures; inadequate medical surveillance for employees exposed to hexavalent chromium and cadmium; lack of appropriate change rooms; failure to train workers on hazardous chemicals; and improper training for respiratory protection.
According to OSHA guidelines, 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.
"This contractor's workers (were) exposed to excessive levels of hexavalent chromium, cadmium and methylene chloride, and providing necessary controls is critical in preventing diseases like lung cancer," said Herb Gibson, director of OSHA's Denver Area Office. "These violations could have been avoided if the employer had followed OSHA's expanded health standards for chromium and cadmium."
Col. Sarah E. Zabel, commander of the 75th Air Base Wing, said the base is evaluating the citations and developing solutions to eliminate hazards from the workplace and prevent future occurrences.
"We take the safety and health of our work force very seriously," Zabel said. "We fell short of the expanded OSHA standards, and as soon as OSHA brought the matter to our attention, we started remedial actions."
Zabel said the citations have been posted prominently in the affected work areas and other buildings on base, and the base union representative has been involved in meetings along with OSHA regulators.
"We are working on an abatement plan to address all the issues, and are preparing now for an informal conference with the OSHA regulators to clarify findings and ensure the abatement plan meets our mutual needs," Zabel said. "It is our intention to be in full compliance with the expanded standards as soon as possible."
AES and Hill have 15 business days from when they were notified of the violations to fix the problems, meet with OSHA's Denver area director, or contest the citations and penalties before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.
The inspection was conducted by OSHA's Denver office.