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Region 5 News Release: 10-1655-CHI
Dec. 7, 2010
Contact: Rhonda Burke       Scott Allen
Phone: 312-353-6976       312-353-4727
E-mail: burke.rhonda@dol.gov       allen.scott@dol.gov

US Labor Department's OSHA fines US Minerals facility in Illinois
$396,000 for 28 violations, including exposure to hazardous dust

COFFEEN, Ill. – The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration has cited U.S. Minerals LLC with willfully exposing its workers to dangerously high levels of hazardous dust, and not providing adequate breathing protection and training for workers at its facility in Coffeen. The company, headquartered in Dyer, Ind., has been issued a total of 28 health and safety citations with proposed penalties of $396,000.

"U.S. Minerals has severely jeopardized the health and safety of its workers by exposing them to extremely high levels of hazardous dust and other dangers," said Assistant Secretary of Labor for OSHA Dr. David Michaels. "This is the fourth U.S. Minerals facility where very serious violations were cited in the past three months, clearly indicating these problems are widespread and systemic. This blatant disregard of workers' health and safety is not acceptable."

Inhalation of the hazardous dust material produced at the facility can cause debilitating lung disease such as pneumoconiosis, which is characterized by symptoms including chronic cough, difficulty breathing and shortness of breath.

This investigation falls under the requirements of OSHA's Severe Violators Enforcement Program. Initiated in the spring of 2010, SVEP is intended to focus on recalcitrant employers who endanger workers by committing willful, repeat or failure-to-abate violations in one or more of the following circ