N.Y. Contractor Hit with Willful Violations, $323,000 in Fines

A Webster, N.Y., construction contractor faces a total of $323,000 in proposed fines from OSHA for allegedly failing to protect its employees against lead exposure hazards at a worksite on the campus of the State University of New York at Geneseo.

Leo J. Roth Corp. was cited for a total of seven alleged willful and serious violations of workplace health standards following an OSHA inspection that began Oct. 25, 2005, in response to an employee complaint. At that time, Roth had been engaged for several weeks in the demolition and replacement of a lead-coated copper roof on Sturges Hall, a process that generated lead-containing dust.

OSHA says its inspection found that Roth had not conducted initial monitoring to determine if the workers were exposed to airborne concentrations of lead at levels that would trigger protective measures.

The company also had not provided the workers with interim safeguards, including respiratory protection, personal protective clothing, biological monitoring of blood lead levels, medical surveillance, training and hazard communication, according to OSHA.

As a result, Roth received five willful citations with fines totaling $315,000.

"Lead is a cumulative poison that can, over time, damage the body's blood, nervous, neurological and reproductive systems. When your employees work with lead, you must always assume exposure unless or until monitoring proves otherwise," said Arthur Dube, OSHA's area director for western New York. "This employer knew the initial monitoring and interim safeguards were required to protect the workers, yet apparently elected to ignore them."

The company also allegedly failed to collect personal exposure samples and had an incomplete lead compliance program. These violations resulted in two serious citations with $8,000 in fines.

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