Region 1 News Release: 09-1206-BOS/BOS 2009-332
Wed., Oct. 7, 2009
Contact: Ted Fitzgerald
U.S. Labor Department's OSHA cites Hingham, Mass., contractor for silica hazards on I-93 bridge restoration in Melrose, Mass.
ANDOVER, Mass. - The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has proposed a total of $38,100 in fines against Sealcoating Inc. of Hingham, Mass., chiefly for silica-related hazards identified during restoration work on bridge M-12-28 on the southbound side of I-93 in Melrose, Mass.
The contractor was cited for 11 alleged repeat and serious violations of workplace health and safety standards following a nighttime inspection conducted in July of this year as part of OSHA's Boston North Area Office's efforts to target inspections to construction worksites - such as road resurfacing and bridge repair - where silica is generated.
"Employers should not assume that OSHA will not conduct inspections because much of this work is done at night," said Paul Mangiafico, OSHA's area director for Middlesex and Essex counties. "We will conduct inspections where and when we must to ensure that employers implement and maintain effective controls to minimize this hazard to their workers."
Crystalline silica, a basic component of soil, sand, granite and many other minerals, can be inhaled when workers chip, cut, drill or grind objects that contain the substance. It has been classified as a human lung carcinogen, and breathing crystalline silica dust can cause silicosis, a disabling or even fatal lung condition.
OSHA found employees at the jobsite exposed to excess silica levels while jack hammering concrete, no controls to lower exposure levels, failure to evaluate employees' exposure levels, an inadequate respiratory protection program and training, and no fit-testing of respirators. These conditions resulted in the issuance of seven serious citations, with $20,100 in proposed fines. Serious citations are issued when death or serious physical harm is likely to result from hazards about which the employer knew or should have known.
In addition, four repeat citations, with $18,000 in fines, were issued for conditions similar to those cited by OSHA following an April 2009 inspection of a Sealcoating Inc. jobsite in Springfield, Mass. These include lack of a site-specific respiratory protection program, employees wearing respirators without having first obtained medical clearance, ineffective hazard communication training and lack of an effective hearing conservation program.
Sealcoating Inc. has 15 business days from receipt of its citations and proposed penalties to comply, meet with OSHA or contest the finding before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission. The inspection was conducted by OSHA's Boston North Area Office in Andover; telephone 978-837-4460.
Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, OSHA's role is to promote safe and healthful working conditions for America's working men and women by setting and enforcing standards, and providing training, outreach and education. For more information, visit http://www.osha.gov. Detailed information on silica hazards and safeguards is available online at: http://www.osha.gov/SLTC/silicacrystalline/index.html.
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