Region 2 News Release: NY 181
August 30, 2000
Contact: Chester J. Fultz
For Release: Immediately
OWEGO, NEW YORK, SCRAP-METAL YARD CITED BY OSHA FOR ALLEGED HEALTH VIOLATIONS IN WORKER EXPOSURE TO LEAD; $64,000 IN PENALTIES PROPOSED
The U.S. Labor Department's Occupational Safety and Health Administration has
cited Ben Weitsman & Son Inc., 11-15 West Main Street, Owego, New York, and proposed
penalties of $64,000 against the firm for one alleged willful, nine alleged serious, and three
alleged other-than-serious violations of OSHA standards. The company has until
September 20 to contest the citations.
According to OSHA area director Diane Brayden, the action results from an
investigation conducted from March 1 to August 28 following a complaint about workers
being overexposed to lead at the worksite, a scrap-metal yard with about 50 employees.
OSHA alleges that the company willfully violated OSHA's respiratory protection
standard by failing to provide medical evaluations and fit testing for employees required to
wear respirators. The alleged willful violation carries a proposed penalty of $35,000.
The alleged serious violations for which the employer was cited included:
allowing an employee with facial hair that interfered with an effective seal to use a
tight-fitting style respirator;
failing to maintain lunch tables free of lead contamination;
failing to provide protective clothing, showers, change rooms, and hand -washing
facilities for employees exposed to lead;
failing to implement engineering controls to limit exposure to airborne lead;
failing to establish a written respirator program, provide proper respirators to
employees, and give training in respirator use;
failing to train employees on the OSHA lead standard, the health effects of lead, and
how to protect against overexposure;
failing to conduct air monitoring to determine employee exposure to airborne lead;
failing to provide medical exams and blood tests for employees exposed to lead;
failing to remove from exposure and place in other duties an employee whose blood-lead level was determined to be higher than OSHA's removal level of 60 micrograms
in an independently obtained test.
The alleged serious violations carry a total proposed penalty of $29,000.
The employer was also cited for failing to post signs warning employees of airborne
lead, properly record illnesses in the OSHA log, and maintain required supplemental injury
and illness records, three alleged other-than-serious violations.
A willful violation is defined by OSHA as one committed with an intentional
disregard for, or plain indifference to, the requirements of the OSHA act and regulations. A
serious violation is defined as a condition which exists where there is a substantial
possibility that death or serious physical harm can result. An other-than-serious violation is
a hazardous condition that would probably not cause death or serious physical harm but
would have a direct and immediate relationship to the safety and health of employees.
The investigation was conducted by OSHA's Syracuse area office, located at 3300
Vickery Road, North Syracuse, New York, telephone (315) 451-0808.