Whemco, OSHA settle for $20K

LIMA — Whemco Ohio Foundry Inc. and the U.S. Department of Occupational Safety and Health Administration have reached an informal settlement regarding the 2018 foundry accident that injured four employees.

The two parties reached an informal settlement several weeks after OSHA first issued its $29,877 penalty against the Lima foundry in June 2018, lowering the fine against Whemco to $20,913, according to OSHA records.

“That’s not uncommon to see that,” said OSHA spokesman Scott Allen. “A company might come into OSHA’s informal conference and have some documentation or some other mitigating circumstances that would allow OSHA to reduce the penalty.”

Allen could not speak to the Whemco settlement specifically, citing OSHA policy. A Whelmco representative declined to comment on the settlement on Tuesday as well.

Whemco, an industrial supplier for the metals, power generation, mining and shipbuilding industries, has operated its Lima foundry for more than 100 years, according to the company’s website.

Four of the foundry’s employees were hospitalized with burn injuries on Feb. 2, 2018, after a molten metal spill, which resulted in three serious citations from OSHA.

The accident occurred around 9:30 a.m. that morning while employees were pouring molten metal into a furnace. OSHA records show a ladle used to transfer the molten metal got caught on a nearby catwalk. After fixing the equipment with a pipe wrench, OSHA records say workers tried to use the same pipe wrench to tilt the ladle back toward the furnace, spilling about 9,600 pounds of molten metal in the process.

Three employees were hospitalized and released within two days of the accident, while a fourth spent about two weeks in the hospital and another month in rehab, according to OSHA records.

The case was closed on July 20, 2018.

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By Mackenzi Klemann

[email protected]

Reach Mackenzi Klemann at 567-242-0456.