Spirit Aerosytems Inc., an aircraft manufacturer based out of Wichita, Kansas, was found to have exposed its employees to the harmful carcinogen known as hexavalent chromium. The United States Department of Labor’s Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) cited the company for this violation of workplace safety regulations as well as several other serious violations. Spirit Aerosystems now faces projected penalties of just over $194,000.
After an investigation was conducted by OSHA officials, it was determined that the company had exposed many of its employees to almost two times the acceptable concentration of airborne hexavalent chromium. This chemical compound has been known to cause cancer. It usually targets the human respiratory system as well as kidneys, liver, eyes and skin.
It was also determined during the investigation that the company failed to properly train its employees or provide them with any knowledge regarding the dangers and signs of the presence of hexavalent chromium. Furthermore, OSHA says the company failed to put work practice controls and exposure prevention techniques into place, which could have prevented the employees from exposure.
OSHA noted that Spirit Aerosystems should have required its employees to remove protective equipment that could have been contaminated from their bodies before leaving the designated work area, but they were not instructed to do so. The combination of these violations led to worker exposure to the poisonous carcinogen.
According to Ryan Hodge, OSHA’s Acting Wichita Area Office Director, “This company failed to protect their employees from exposure to a known carcinogen. Employers are required to continually evaluate their facilities for hazards, and use the proper safety controls and equipment to keep their worksites safe and healthy.”
Spirit Aerosystems Inc. has 15 business days from the issuance of the citations to respond in one of three ways: comply with OSHA and pay the penalties, request a meeting with the area director of OSHA, or to contest the finding and settle this dispute in court.