US Department of Labor's OSHA proposes $159,390 fine for Fortune Painting Co.
for repeatedly exposing workers to dangerous lead levels, serious fall hazards
WILMETTE, Ill. – Fortune Painting Co. Inc. has been cited for 25 violations by the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration, including willful and repeat violations for exposing workers to dangerous levels of lead from lead-based paint. OSHA cited the company for failing to protect workers from serious fall hazards while restoring a home in Wilmette. The Lincolnwood-based company has an extensive history of OSHA violations and faces proposed penalties of $159,390 after the most recent investigation. Lead exposure can cause long-term damage to the central nervous, urinary, blood and reproductive systems.
"Lead is one of the most common health hazards found in industry and is a leading cause of workplace illness. Lead particles are easily transported from work sites on clothing and other materials, so taking precautions to prevent exposure is vitally important to the health of workers and their families," said Angie Loftus, OSHA's area director for Chicago North in Des Plaines. "Fortune Painting has a history of failing to comply with OSHA standards. Repeat violators demonstrate a lack of concern for the safety and health of their workers."
Fortune Painting failed to determine employee exposure to lead before directing workers to remove paint with sanders and scrapers from the Wilmette home, resulting in a willful OSHA violation. A willful violation is one committed with intentional, knowing or voluntary disregard for the law's requirement, or with plain indifference to employee safety and health.
The company was issued seven repeat citations. Repeat violations involved OSHA's respiratory protection standards, such as failing to ensure workers had properly fitted respirators to protect them from lead overexposure and to train them in respiratory use and procedures. Other repeat violations include dry sweeping debris contaminated with lead-based paint, failing to provide dedicated work shoes or disposable coverlets and lack of a clean changing area to prevent the spread of lead contamination.
The company was also cited a repeat violation for failing to protect workers from fall hazards. Falls are the leading cause of death in the construction industry. Last year, nearly 300 workers were fatally injured in construction-related falls nationwide.
A repeat violation exists when an employer previously has been cited for the same or a similar violation of a standard, regulation, rule or order at any other facility in federal enforcement states within the last five years. Fortune Painting was previously cited for these hazards at job sites in 2008 and 2012. Since 2008, the company has been inspected by OSHA 10 times, resulting in multiple violations.
Fortune Painting was cited for 14 serious violations involving lack of respiratory protection; personal protective equipment, such as safety glasses and clothing; training and administrative controls; and housekeeping practices. A serious violation occurs 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.
Three additional violations involved failing to implement a lead exposure compliance program, improper use of electrical equipment and failing to provide medical recommendations for each employee's ability to use a respirator.
Fortune Painting has 15 business days from receipt of its citations and penalties to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA's area director, or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.
To ask questions, obtain compliance assistance, file a complaint, or report workplace hospitalizations, fatalities or situations posing imminent danger to workers, the public should call OSHA's toll-free hotline at 800-321-OSHA (6742) or the agency's Chicago North Area Office at 847-803-4800.
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 providing training, education and assistance. For more information, visit http://www.osha.gov.
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