US Labor Department's OSHA fines Canonsburg, Pa., company nearly $130,000 for
exposing workers to lead hazards, other violations at Harrisburg, Pa., worksite
CANONSBURG, Pa. – The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration has issued citations against Panthera Painting Co. Inc. for exposing workers to dangerously high levels of lead, among other violations, while repainting and performing lead abatement at the George Wade Bridge in Harrisburg. Proposed penalties total $129,900.
OSHA began inspecting the site in September 2010 after being alerted to the hazards during another inspection involving the project's general contractor.
"Panthera Painting's failure to implement the proper safeguards left employees exposed to lead levels above the permissible limit," said Kevin Kilp, director of OSHA's area office in Harrisburg. "Lead overexposure is a leading cause of workplace illness that can lead to serious adverse health problems."
OSHA cited Panthera for one willful violation, with a penalty of $42,000, for failing to monitor lead levels on a quarterly basis. A willful violation exists when an employer has demonstrated either an intentional disregard for the requirements of the law or plan indifference to employee safety and health.
Twenty-nine serious violations, with a penalty of $87,300, include exposing workers to lead levels in excess of the permissible limit, electrical hazards, deficiencies in the company's lead protection program, failing to properly provide medical evaluations for employees prior to respirator fit testing, failing to provide initial respirator fit tests, failing to ensure employees were using well-fitting respirators, failing to provide ring buoys for emergencies, failing to secure pneumatic tools to hoses, failing to guard pulleys and failing to provide fall protection to employees exposed to fall hazards as high as 60 feet. A serious citation is issued when there is substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result from a hazard about which the employer knew or should have known.
The company also was cited for five other-than-serious violations, with a penalty of $600, for failing to properly record injuries and illnesses and to periodically inspect fire extinguishers. An other-than-serious violation is one that has a direct relationship to job safety and health, but probably would not cause death or serious physical harm.
OSHA's lead standards require employers to protect their workers from lead exposure, which can cause many serious health issues including brain damage, paralysis and kidney disease, as well as death. Detailed information about lead hazards is available on OSHA's website at http://www.osha.gov/SLTC/lead/index.html.
The Canonsburg company has 15 business days from receipt of the citations to comply, ask for an informal conference with OSHA's area director or contest the citations and proposed penalties before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission. The investigation was conducted by OSHA's Harrisburg Area Office; telephone 717-782-3902. To report workplace incidents, fatalities or situations posing imminent danger to workers, call the agency's toll-free hotline at 800-321-OSHA (6742).
Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their employees. OSHA's role is to ensure these conditions for America's working men and women by setting and enforcing standards, and provide training, education and assistance. For more information, visit http://www.osha.gov.
U.S. Department of Labor news materials are accessible at http://www.dol.gov. The information above is available in large print, Braille, audio tape or disc from the COAST office upon request by calling 202-693-7828 or TTY 202-693-7755.