Bucks County businessman William H. Marsh says he is taking a stand against the U.S. government.
A federal workplace inspector showed up unannounced at Marsh's steel manufacturing business in Warminster on Nov. 21 seeking to measure the company's noise level, he said.
When the inspector produced no warrant, Marsh denied him entry.
"The federal government, I do not respect it," Marsh, president of American Bar Products Inc., said Thursday. "They hurt workers."
Federal officials say that American Bar Products has exposed its employees to a hazardous work environment.
Marsh, 42, acquired the company in a liquidation purchase in 2003. He said a "disgruntled employee" complained to the U.S. Labor Department's Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA), prompting the federal inspector to make an initial visit in March 2011.
Marsh said he gave the inspector "free reign" to investigate, which led to citations and a settlement in which the company paid an $8,400 fine, according to OSHA inspection reports that identified 10 "serious" workplace violations.
"A serious violation is one in which there is substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result and that the employer knew, or should have known, of the hazard," said OSHA regional director Leni Uddyback-Fortson in a statement Thursday.
"OSHA's first priority is protecting workers and is committed to strong, fair, and effective enforcement of the Occupational Safety and Health Act."
"I'm not perfect, but we're trying," Marsh said Thursday as his 11 employees processed raw steel into fine bar plates.
State Rep. Marguerite C. Quinn (R., Bucks) and a staffer for U.S. Rep. Mike Fitzpatrick (R., Bucks) were also at the warehouse to tour the premises and listen to Marsh's OSHA complaints.
"This sounds to me like an agency gone rogue," Quinn said.
American Bar Products' employees said they have suffered flesh cuts on the job on occasion but said that they know how to work and that OSHA's regulations are a "hindrance" to productivity.
"Everybody here knows how to be safe," said employee Jake Parks, 33.
Marsh said American Bar Products earns $10 million in annual revenue through selling steel to distributors across North America. He said federal taxes and regulatory action from OSHA and other agencies threaten to stunt the resurgence of American manufacturing.
"We can't just continue to ignore the problem," he said.