Employee Exposure to Lead Exposes Company to $123,000 in Fines

Numerous safety and health infractions, including the failure to prevent employees from being exposed to excessive levels of lead in the workplace, resulted in $123,750 in proposed fines against New York Solder Co. Inc., in Bronx, N.Y.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) cited the company, which manufactures solder wire and bar solder from lead-based alloys, for alleged willful, serious and other-than-serious violations of the Occupational Safety and Health Act. The company has until Oct. 3 to contest the citations.

According to Philip Peist, OSHA's area director in Tarrytown, N.Y., the agency conducted an investigation of the company from March 15 through September 10. The investigation was initiated as part of OSHA's national emphasis program on lead.

In stressing the severity of the alleged violations, Peist noted that "exposure to lead is one of the leading causes of serious workplace illnesses, and this employer is well aware of the hazards."

As a result of OSHA's inspection, New York Solder Co. was cited for six alleged willful violations of federal safety and health standards, which include a proposed penalty of $108,000. The alleged willful violations include the employer's failure to prevent employees from being exposed to excessive lead levels; conduct exposure monitoring for employees exposed to lead; maintain surfaces free as practicable from accumulations of lead and to provide separate storage facilities for lead-contaminated work clothing and clean clothing; ensure food and beverages were not consumed and tobacco products were not used in areas where employees were exposed to excessive lead levels; institute a medical surveillance program for employees exposed to lead; and failure to require employees to wear protective clothing and equipment to protect them against contact with molten metal and hazardous chemicals.

The company was also cited for 24 alleged serious violations carrying proposed penalties totaling $15,750. These included the employer's failure to select respirators that provided protection against lead; provide fit-testing, medical examinations and training for employees wearing respirators; provide employees with protective clothing against lead; provide employee training on the dangers of lead; and failure to establish and implement a lead compliance program, among numerous other safety and health infractions.

Finally, the company was cited for two alleged other-than-serious violations, including failure to certify forklift training and evaluation and failure to provide covers for electrical junction boxes, for which no penalties were proposed.

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