Region 2 News Release: NY 138
April 19, 2000
Contact: Chester J. Fultz
ELMONT, NEW YORK, CONTRACTOR PAINTING THE BAYONNE BRIDGE IN BAYONNE, NEW JERSEY, CITED BY OSHA FOR ALLEGED HEALTH VIOLATIONS; $128,000 IN PENALTIES PROPOSED
The U.S. Labor Department's Occupational Safety and Health Administration has cited Trevor Sears Construction Co., Inc, 491-93 Hempstead Turnpike, Elmont, New York, and proposed penalties of $128,000 for four alleged willful and nine alleged serious violations of OSHA's lead standard. The company has until May 10 to contest the citations.
This action results from an inspection begun by OSHA on October 28 at the Bayonne Bridge linking Bayonne, New Jersey, and Staten Island, New York, in response to an employee complaint that employees were experiencing high levels of lead in their blood due to improper removal of lead paint.
OSHA alleges that the company willfully violated OSHA standards by not properly fit testing employees required to wear respirators, not providing protective clothing for employees to prevent lead contamination, not ensuring that employees who were exposed to excessive airborne lead dust took showers before going home, and not ensuring that employees removed contaminated clothing before eating and drinking.
The alleged willful violations carry a total proposed penalty of $110,000.
Patricia K. Clark, OSHA regional administrator, said, "Abrasive blasting on steel structures previously painted with lead paint releases extremely high levels of airborne lead. This company's actions demonstrated that it was fully aware of several important requirements designed to reduce employee lead exposure and decided not to comply. The employer knowingly allowed its workers to be unnecessarily exposed to airborne lead and lead contamination.
"OSHA is committed to stringent enforcement in workplaces where employers willfully violate safety and health standards." Clarke noted. "OSHA will continue to take aggressive enforcement action in such cases so others are made aware that intentional disregard for employee health and safety cannot be tolerated."
The employer was also cited for nine alleged serious violations including:
- not ensuring that employees inspected, cleaned and disinfected their respirators;
- not adequately training employees on respiratory protection;
- not ensuring that employees used the respirator best suited for high levels of airborne lead;
- not notifying employees of airborne lead exposure levels;
- not notifying employees of their lead blood test results;
- not evaluating mechanical ventilation in place to control lead levels;
- not providing for the laundering of employee contaminated clothing;
- not ensuring that contaminated clothing was separated from street clothing;
- not offering employees a zinc protoporphyrin blood test.
The alleged serious violations carry a total penalty of $18,000.
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.
The investigation was conducted by OSHA's Parsippany area office, located at 299 Cherry Hill Road, room 304, Parsippany, NJ 07054, telephone (973)263-1003.
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