Employee health and safety are top priorities in the work area, especially in hazardous environments. A New York thermometer maker faces a six-figure penalty after being discovered exposing its employees to mercury poisoning.
Kessler Thermometer, an industrial manufacturer in West Babylon, New York, was slapped with a $200k fine for exposing workers to a toxic manufacturing facility.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), which prosecuted the corporation, stated that the company violated UK elemental mercury guidance. The level of the substance at the site reportedly exceeded the safe level.
Several workers had reported sickness due to the exposure in August 2022. The activities carried out during this period included distilling and purifying elemental mercury, filling thermometers, blowing glass, and calibrating and engraving thermometers and hydrometers.
Inspectors came down hard on Kessler, proposing a whopping $195,988 in fines after uncovering several alarming violations. The list included 18 serious infractions, one willful violation, and two other-than-serious offenses.
Kessler failed to provide adequate engineering controls, such as a fume hood, to minimize exposure while handling mercury in an open environment, according to OSHA. The inspectors also discovered levels of mercury in eating areas and other areas of the facility contaminated with the hazardous substance, such as tables, desks, and storage areas.
What’s more, Kessler failed to provide adequate personal protective equipment (PPE), training, and appropriate first aid measures, such as an emergency shower. According to OSHA Area Director Kevin Sullivan, Kessler knowingly threatened its employees by disregarding basic safety precautions and failing to recognize the severe dangers posed by mercury exposure.
Kessler has an 8,000-square-foot lab and manufacturing facility in New York. The severity of the violations emphasizes the importance of maintaining a safe and secure workplace, especially when dealing with hazardous substances such as mercury.
The fine serves as a wake-up call for Kessler and other businesses to take proactive measures to ensure their workplaces are safe and secure for all employees. Employers should prioritize worker health and safety and take all necessary precautions to create a healthy work environment.