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Region 5 News Release: 10-1265-CHI
Sept. 20, 2010
Contact: Rhonda Burke    Scott Allen
Phone: 312-353-6976    312-353-6976
E-mail: burke.rhonda@dol.gov     allen.scott@dol.gov

US Labor Department's OSHA fines Chicago Heights, Ill., iron and metal
recycler more than $135,000 for exposing workers to lead and other hazards

CHICAGO HEIGHTS, Ill. - The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration has cited metals recycler Gaby Iron and Metal Co. in Chicago Heights with 17 alleged health and safety violations, including allowing workers to exceed allowable exposure limits to lead and failing to require respirators to be worn. Lead can cause brain damage, paralysis, kidney disease and even death. The citations carry total penalties of $135,850.

OSHA's inspection, which was initiated in March from a State of Illinois Lead Enforcement Program referral, cited Gaby Iron and Metal Co. with four alleged willful violations with proposed fines of $112,000 for failing to implement a respiratory protection program, failing to provide a written lead compliance or training plan, failing to monitor air for lead during process or material changes and allowing workers to be exposed to lead in excess of allowable limits. A willful violation is one committed with intentional, knowing or voluntary disregard for the law's requirement, or plain indifference to employee safety and health.

"Gaby Iron and Metal has demonstrated disregard for the safety and welfare of its workers by not following OSHA safety standards to monitor employees' exposure to hazardous materials," said OSHA Area Director Gary Anderson. "We are committed to protecting workers by enforcing safe practices and OSHA regulations."

Additionally, the company was cited for 12 serious citations with proposed penalties of $23,850 that include failing to evaluate employees' exposure to arsenic or provide arsenic training, place lead-contaminated clothing in closed containers and label those containers, provide a medical surveillance program for lead exposure and implement a hazard communications training program. An OSHA violation is serious if death or serious physical harm can result from a hazard an employer knew or should have known exists. The company also received one other-than-serious violation for its lack of a written and certified personal protective equipment assessment.

Gaby Iron and Metal Co. was also inspected by OSHA in 2006, resulting in three serious citations for lack of protective clothing for welders and improper oxygen cylinder storage, and in 1984, when OSHA inspectors noted the lack of a hearing conservation program.

The company has 15 business days from receipt of its latest 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 report workplace accidents, fatalities or situations posing imminent danger to workers, call OSHA's toll-free hotline at 800-321-6742.

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 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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U.S. Department of Labor releases are accessible on the Internet at http://www.dol.gov. The information in this news release will be made available in alternate format (large print, Braille, audiotape or disc) from the COAST office upon request. Please specify which news release when placing your request at 202-693-7828 or TTY 202-693-7755. The Labor Department 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 http://www.dol.gov/compliance.


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