IR #00-09
Wednesday, May 17, 2000

Dean Fryer
(415) 703-5050

American Xtal receives maximum penalties under new law

SAN FRANCISCO --The California Department of Industrial Relations' Division of Occupational Safety and Health (Cal/OSHA) today cited American Xtal Technology, Inc.(.pdf format 10KB) for 42 alleged violations of the state workplace safety and health regulations. The February 4, 2000 investigation led to total penalties of $313,655.

"We support the contributions of the technology sector to California's prosperity, and the best contribution comes from a safe and healthy work force," said John Howard, chief of the Division of Occupational Safety and Health. "That wasn't the case with American Xtal."

Among the 42 alleged violations, 12 citations, including the three classified as "willful," are for American Xtal's alleged failure to properly protect their employees from the hazard of exposure to inorganic arsenic, a known cancer-causing agent.

"Documents obtained during our investigation and on-site monitoring show that employees were exposed to arsenic at more than four times the permissible exposure limit allowed by the Cal/OSHA arsenic standard," said Howard. "These documents also show that the company had knowledge of the exposure hazard to employees since July 1998."

American Xtal, at 4311 Solar Way in Fremont, produces gallium arsenide products that are sold to manufacturers of semiconducting electronic devices. Alleged violations include three citations classified as "willful" (totaling $151,250 in penalties); 11 citations classified as "serious" (totaling $150,305); four citations classified as "regulatory" (totaling $1,875) and one general citation (24 items totaling $10,225).

Citations (.pdf format 10KB) issued following the American Xtal investigation resulted in the highest penalties since the new law, AB 1127, became effective on January 1, 2000. Authored by Assemblymember Darrell Steinberg, and signed into law by Governor Davis, AB 1127 greatly increases the effectiveness of Cal/OSHA's enforcement efforts, which in turn increases safety and health protections afforded to California workers.

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