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Region 1 News Release: 05-303-BOS/BOS 2005-033
Thursday, March 3, 2005
Contact: Ted Fitzgerald
Phone: (617) 565-2074
at Chester, Maine, Bridge Deleading Project
AUGUSTA, Maine -- A lead abatement contractor's failure to protect employees removing lead paint from a steel bridge spanning the Penobscot River between Lincoln and Chester, Maine, has resulted in $80,500 in fines from the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). Monoko Inc., Tarpon Springs, Fla., was cited for a total of 15 alleged willful and serious violations of workplace health standards following an OSHA inspection begun Aug. 25, 2004.
The willful citations, which account for $55,000 of the total fines, concern the employer's failure to require lead-exposed employees to shower at the end of each shift, a situation exacerbated by the lack of working showers and the lack of water supply to the showers. Also cited as willful was the company's use of unapproved industrial hoses and fittings and spliced hoses for airline respirators.
The serious citations address employees' exposure to excess airborne concentrations of lead; no lead exposure monitoring; dirty respirators, stored in lead contaminated areas and not inspected daily; lead contaminated work surfaces, lockers, street clothes, eyewash and hand washing facilities; refusal to supply a required medical exam and blood lead analysis to an employee who had symptoms of lead poisoning; employees allowed to eat while wearing lead contaminated clothing; a vacuum lacking a HEPA filter; and failure to provide the workers, many of whom were non-English speaking, with training on lead hazards and safe work practices in a language they understood. A total of $25,500 in fines is proposed for these items.
Lead is a poison that can damage the central nervous system, kidney, cardiovascular, blood and reproductive systems if absorbed into the body in high enough doses. Absorption is often through inhalation.
"OSHA lead standards require employers to take steps to minimize exposure levels, practice effective industrial hygiene, ensure proper respirator use and effectively train employees in safe and healthful work practices," said Anthony Lemire, OSHA's acting area director for Maine. "The failure to comply with these standards at this jobsite is unacceptable."
OSHA defines a willful violation as one committed with an intentional disregard of, or plain indifference to, the requirements of the Occupational Safety and Health Act and regulations. A serious violation is a condition where there is a substantial possibility that death or serious physical harm can result to an employee.
The company has 15 business days from receipt of its citations to request and participate in an informal conference with the OSHA area director or to contest them before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission. The inspection was conducted by OSHA's Augusta area office. The office's telephone number is (207) 626-9160.
Employers are responsible for providing a safe and healthful workplace for their employees. OSHA's role is to assure the safety and health of America's workers by setting and enforcing standards; providing training, outreach, and education; establishing partnerships; and encouraging continual improvement in workplace safety and health. For more information, visit www.osha.gov.
U.S. Labor Department (DOL) releases are accessible on the Internet at www.dol.gov. The information in this news release will be made available in alternate format upon request (large print, Braille, audio tape or disc) from the COAST office. Please specify which news release when placing your request at (202) 693-7765 or TTY (202) 693-7755. The U.S. Department of Labor is committed to providing America's employers and employees with easy access to understandable information on how to comply with its laws and regulations. For more information, please visit www.dol.gov/compliance.
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