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OSHA News Release
Region 5

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Region 5 News Release: 07-1296-CHI
Sept. 24, 2007
Contact: Brad Mitchell
Phone: (312) 353-6976

U.S. Labor Department's OSHA cites Wisconsin bridge builder for violating federal lead exposure standards
Federal action proposes $115,200 in penalties

NEILLSVILLE, Wis. -- The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has proposed $115,200 in fines against Ruzic Construction Co. Inc., Neillsville, for alleged multiple willful, serious and repeat violations of federal workplace health standards, primarily for employee overexposure to lead.

OSHA opened an inspection where employees were not adequately protected from exposure to airborne lead during torch cutting of lead painted steel as part of a bridge repair operation over the Baraboo River. As a result of the inspection, OSHA issued two willful citations with a proposed penalty totaling $70,000, alleging the company failed to provide engineering and work practice controls while torch cutting where exposure for lead exceeded permissible limits.

The agency issued citations for eight serious violations with proposed penalties of $15,200 covering a variety of concerns including hazards associated with arsenic exposure, improper handling of protective clothing and failure to provide training.

Six repeat violations, based on citations issued and affirmed in 2006, covered inadequate respiratory protection; inadequate protective clothing for lead exposure; and a lack of hand and face wash facilities and clothing change areas. Proposed penalties for the repeat violations total $30,000.

OSHA has inspected Ruzic Construction Co. sites four times since 1984.

"The devastating health effects of lead exposure are well documented and well known," said Kim Stille, OSHA's area director in Madison, Wis. "When employees carry this deadly material home on their clothing, their families are also put at great risk."

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 assure the safety and health of America's working men and women by setting and enforcing standards; providing training, outreach and education; establishing partnerships; and encouraging continual process improvement in workplace safety and health. For more information, visit


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