Wisconsin Steel Pipe Manufacturer Faces $110K in Penalties

Grinder operator exposed to hexavalent chromium at levels 1.78 percent higher than permissible exposure limit

MARSHFIELD, Wisconsin – A Wisconsin manufacturer of steel pipes and tubes faces $110,458 in proposed penalties after OSHA inspectors responded to a complaint and found 13 serious safety and health violations at the company’s Marshfield facility.

At least one employee at Felker Brothers Corp. was exposed to excessive levels of hexavalent chromium, which can cause serious health issues, and another worker suffered severe injuries after being struck by a moving piece of machinery, OSHA investigators determined.

“Welding and hot work on stainless steel, high chrome alloys, and chrome-coated metal is one of the most common ways workers are exposed to hexavalent chromium. Exposure can cause respiratory tract, skin, and eye irritation,” said OSHA Area Director Chad Greenwood, in Madison. “Companies must monitor their facilities to ensure workplace health and safety procedures are effective.”

In its investigation, OSHA determined that a grinder operator was exposed to hexavalent chromium at levels 1.78 percent higher than the permissible exposure limit. The company also reported a worker was hospitalized after suffering a shattered jaw and concussion when he was struck by a piece of machinery. OSHA found a lack of machine safety procedures including failing to adequately anchor equipment to the floor.

In addition, OSHA found the company used damaged cranes; altered forklifts without manufacturer’s approval; failed to inspect jacks, and allowed combustible materials to be stored within 35 feet of welding and hot work.

Felker Brothers Corp. manufactures and custom fabricates stainless steel pipe, tubes, and fittings at manufacturing facilities in Wisconsin and Kentucky.