News Release USDL: 96-165
Monday, April 29, 1996
Contact: Frank Kane (202) 219-8151
OSHA Cites Michigan Demolition Contractor
For Numerous Lead Violations At Trinidad, Texas
Site; Proposes $742,000 Fine
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration
(OSHA) has cited Best Group, Inc., a Michigan contractor,
for numerous alleged willful and serious violations
of the regulation protecting construction workers
against overexposure to lead. The exposures occurred
during demolition at a Trinidad, Tex., power plant.
OSHA proposed penalties totaling $742,000.
Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational
Safety and Health Joseph A. Dear said, "Lead poisoning
is a deadly serious matter for workers and their
families. This employer was subjecting its workers
to intolerable risks."
Best Group, headquartered in Bingham Farms,
Mich., had 35 employees conducting demolition
and salvage operations at a Texas Utilities
Electric Co. steam generating power plant in
Trinidad last fall.
Based on information from Best Group employees
during an asbestos investigation, OSHA began
investigating blood lead levels of site employees
on Nov. 2, 1995.
The Texas Department of Health confirmed that
25 of 30 employees had blood lead above the level
at which OSHA requires medical attention (40 micrograms
per deciliter of blood); and 8 of the 30 had blood lead
above the level at which removal from the worksite is
required for medical reasons (50 micrograms per deciliter).
One employee required extensive medical treatment,
including chelation (a procedure for eliminating lead
from the system) from a medical toxicologist.
Best Group was cited for 10 alleged willful
violations of OSHA's lead in construction standard,
with proposed penalties of $70,000 (the maximum
permitted under law) for each violation.
OSHA said the company:
failed to reduce employees' exposure to lead below the
permissible exposure limit;
failed to implement a respiratory protection program;
failed to provide cleaning, laundering or disposal of
personal protective equipment used for lead exposure;
failed to keep surfaces free of lead accumulation;
failed to provide change rooms and showers;
failed to assure employees washed their hands and faces prior
to eating, drinking and/or smoking;
failed to provide appropriate biological monitoring;
failed to remove employees from lead exposure when a medical
determination found the employees were at increased health risk;
failed to provide medical removal benefits; and
failed to provide a lead-training program.
The company also was cited for six alleged
serious violations of the lead in construction
standard, with proposed penalties of $7,000
(the maximum for a serious violation) for each
violation. The company was cited for failure
to conduct initial determinations for employee
exposure to lead, failure to implement interim
protective measures, failure to collect employee
personal lead samples, and other violations of
Willful violations are those committed
with an intentional disregard of, or plain
indifference to, the requirements of the
OSH Act and regulations.
A serious violation is defined as one in
which there is substantial probability that
death or serious physical harm could result,
and the employer knew or should have known of
The company has 15 working days to contest the
citations and proposed penalties before the independent
Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.