The Department of Justice is ordering Neenah Enterprises Inc., U.S. Holdings Inc. and US Foundry and Manufacturing Corp. to divest certain gray iron municipal castings assets in order to proceed with the former company’s proposed acquisition of substantially all US Foundry assets. NEI and US Foundry are two of three significant suppliers of gray iron municipal castings in 11 Eastern and Southern states. Such castings include customized, molded covers or frames accessing manholes and subterranean areas through grates or drains used to direct water in roadway, parking and industrial areas.
The DOJ Antitrust Division filed a civil antitrust lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia to block the NEI-US Foundry transaction. Division attorneys concurrently filed a proposed settlement that, if approved by the court, would resolve the competitive harm the suit alleges.
“NEI and US Foundry provide castings that are essential to public works and construction projects in towns and municipalities throughout the United States,” said Antitrust Division Acting Assistant Attorney General Richard Powers. “The transaction, as originally proposed, would have led to higher prices, lower quality, and slower delivery times for essential pieces of infrastructure. [Our proposed] settlement will ensure that towns and municipalities across the country will continue to benefit from competition for these critical products.”
Under settlement terms, the parties must divest all rights, titles, and interests in 500-plus gray iron municipal casting patterns to D&L Foundry Inc. of Moses Lake, Wash., or an alternate United States-approved acquirer. D&L Foundry is an established provider of gray iron municipal castings, but with sales primarily outside the states where NEI and US Foundry compete. With the divested patterns, D&L or an alternate qualified acquirer will be able to expand into the states where NEI and US Foundry trade.
Neenah, Wis.-based NEI produces gray and ductile iron castings for the industrial and municipal sectors, and operates a headquarters foundry plus Lincoln, Neb. satellite. A subsidiary of Hialeah, Fla.-based U.S. Holdings, US Foundry produces gray iron municipal castings in Medley, Fla.
NIOSH FINDS HEARING PROTECTION USE INSUFFICIENT
A National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) study recently published in the American Journal of Industrial Medicine suggests that more than half of noise-exposed workers responding to past National Health Interview Surveys didn’t use hearing protection “always” or “usually” when exposed to hazardous occupational noise. Hearing protection device (HPD) non-use was only measured in workers who reported exposure to noise on the job.
NIOSH estimates that 22 million employees in the United States face exposure to hazardous noise at work. Its new study looks at 39,508 adult workers from the 2007 and 2014 National Health surveys, which asked participants about their HPD use and occupational noise exposure within the past year. Of those surveyed, 2,057 reported exposure to occupational noise during the previous 12 months in 2007 and 3,380 in 2014. The prevalence of HPD non-use did not change significantly between the two years.
Some industries where noise is a well-recognized hazard were found to have high tendencies of HPD non-use, including Construction (52 percent) and Agriculture, Forestry, Fishing, and Hunting (74 percent). Among all workers exposed to noise in 2014, researchers found the majority (53 percent) did not wear hearing protection consistently. Additionally, researchers observed higher prevalence of HPD non-use among female workers, young workers (aged 18-25) and current smokers.
“Our findings regarding HPD non-use by gender and age group are consistent with previous studies,” says Elizabeth Masterson, PhD, research epidemiologist and study co-author. “However, no prior relationship between smoking and HPD non-use has been reported. Our study was the first to find a significant association between current smoking and HPD non-use.”
“The prevalence of HPD non-use remains high,” she adds. “Increasing worker awareness and providing training about the importance of proper and consistent use of HPDs can protect workers from the effects of hazardous noise. In addition, we need to overcome barriers to HPD use by ensuring that workers have devices that are comfortable and do not overprotect from noise so they can hear speech and other important workplace signals.”