OSHA News Release - (Archived) Table of Contents|
News Release USDL: 96-165
Monday, April 29, 1996
Contact: Frank Kane (202) 219-8151
OSHA Cites Michigan Demolition Contractor For Numerous Lead Violations At Trinidad, Texas Site; Proposes $742,000 Fine
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has cited Best Group, Inc., a Michigan contractor, for numerous alleged willful and serious violations of the regulation protecting construction workers against overexposure to lead. The exposures occurred during demolition at a Trinidad, Tex., power plant. OSHA proposed penalties totaling $742,000.
Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health Joseph A. Dear said, "Lead poisoning is a deadly serious matter for workers and their families. This employer was subjecting its workers to intolerable risks."
Best Group, headquartered in Bingham Farms, Mich., had 35 employees conducting demolition and salvage operations at a Texas Utilities Electric Co. steam generating power plant in Trinidad last fall.
Based on information from Best Group employees during an asbestos investigation, OSHA began investigating blood lead levels of site employees on Nov. 2, 1995.
The Texas Department of Health confirmed that 25 of 30 employees had blood lead above the level at which OSHA requires medical attention (40 micrograms per deciliter of blood); and 8 of the 30 had blood lead above the level at which removal from the worksite is required for medical reasons (50 micrograms per deciliter). One employee required extensive medical treatment, including chelation (a procedure for eliminating lead from the system) from a medical toxicologist.
Best Group was cited for 10 alleged willful violations of OSHA's lead in construction standard, with proposed penalties of $70,000 (the maximum permitted under law) for each violation.
OSHA said the company:
failed to reduce employees' exposure to lead below the permissible exposure limit;
failed to implement a respiratory protection program;
failed to provide cleaning, laundering or disposal of personal protective equipment used for lead exposure;
failed to keep surfaces free of lead accumulation;
failed to provide change rooms and showers;
failed to assure employees washed their hands and faces prior to eating, drinking and/or smoking;
failed to provide appropriate biological monitoring;
failed to remove employees from lead exposure when a medical determination found the employees were at increased health risk;
failed to provide medical removal benefits; and
failed to provide a lead-training program.
The company also was cited for six alleged serious violations of the lead in construction standard, with proposed penalties of $7,000 (the maximum for a serious violation) for each violation. The company was cited for failure to conduct initial determinations for employee exposure to lead, failure to implement interim protective measures, failure to collect employee personal lead samples, and other violations of the standard.
Willful violations are those committed with an intentional disregard of, or plain indifference to, the requirements of the OSH Act and regulations.
A serious violation is defined as one in which there is substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result, and the employer knew or should have known of the hazard.
The company has 15 working days to contest the citations and proposed penalties before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.
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