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Sept. 30, 2015



Electronics recycling workers exposed to high levels
of lead, cadmium at Plainfield, Illinois, facility

PLAINFIELD, Ill. - Workers separating circuit boards at a Plainfield electronics recycling facility were found to be overexposed to high airborne concentrations of lead and cadmium, putting them at high risk for long-term damage to the central nervous, urinary, blood and reproductive systems.

U.S. Department of Labor Occupational Safety and Health Administration inspectors determined that Kuusakoski US LLC failed to implement engineering controls and monitor employee exposure to these hazards.

The company received 26 serious OSHA health violations, Sept. 28, including overexposure. Proposed penalties total $114,800.

"Lead and cadmium can cause irreversible health damage, but Kuusakoski's compliance programs lack information on controlling exposure levels and protecting workers through common-sense safety measures like wearing respirators and protective clothing," said Kathy Webb, OSHA's area director in Calumet City. "The company must protect the long-term health of employees exposed to these dangerous metals."

OSHA also cited the company for the following violations:

  • Failing to train workers on lead, cadmium and chemical hazards.
  • Not implementing a respiratory protection program.
  • No hearing conservation program.
  • Failing to provide protective clothing.
  • No showers or separate lunch facility to prevent lead contamination and ingestion.
  • Lacking housekeeping procedures to remove lead and prevent employee exposure.

View current citations here*.

Founded in Finland in 1914, Kuusakoski recycles metal and electronics, with operations on three continents. Plainfield is the site of its U.S. headquarters.

The company 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 amputations, eye loss, 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 Calumet City Area Office at 708-891-3800.

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

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Media Contacts:

Scott Allen, 312-353-6976,
Rhonda Burke, 312-353-6976,

Release Number: 15-1874-CHI

U.S. Department of Labor news materials are accessible at The department's Reasonable Accommodation Resource Center converts departmental information and documents into alternative formats, which include Braille and large print. For alternative format requests, please contact the department at (202) 693-7828 (voice) or (800) 877-8339 (federal relay).

*Accessibility Assistance: Contact OSHA's Office of Communications at 202-693-1999 for assistance accessing PDF materials.