OSHA Makes a Splash about Naval Shipyard Violations

April 1, 2002
OSHA finds traces of heavy metals in several areas of Washington's Puget Sound Naval Shipyard - including lunchrooms - during a recent investigation.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) found traces of toxic metals - including lead - in several areas of Washington''s Puget Sound Naval Shipyard during a recent investigation. The agency, conducting an investigation of the shipyard following a worker complaint, found 11 serious violations. The shipyard cannot be fined, because the federal government manages it.

"I consider this to be a high number of violations," said Joy Flack, OSHA area director.

She said wipe samples taken from five buildings at the shipyard uncovered traces of cadmium and lead in lunch rooms and water fountains. The shipyard received a repeat violation as well, because wipe samples taken in August and in December also showed traces of lead in employee eating areas.

Lead exposure can lead to central nervous system disorders in adults, while cadmium can cause lung cancer and kidney damage.

"In all the other industrial sites and shipyards that I have been to that work with heavy metals, they do not allow eating, drinking or smoking in areas where those metals are present," Flack said.

OSHA set a deadline of April 8 to correct the violations.

A spokesperson for the shipyard said they are "confident we can improve on practicing and enforcing the requirements of the shipyard''s procedures and we will." She did not comment on the fact that the shipyard seems to have a continuing problem with contamination in common areas such as lunchrooms, judging by the repeat violations.

OSHA asked for blood samples from shipyard employees, and those did not show elevated levels of lead or cadmium. The long-term effects are what worry Flack, she said.

"After so much accumulation, you start to experience health effects," Flack said.

by Sandy Smith ([email protected])

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EHS Today Staff

EHS Today's editorial staff includes:

Dave Blanchard, Editor-in-Chief: During his career Dave has led the editorial management of many of Endeavor Business Media's best-known brands, including IndustryWeekEHS Today, Material Handling & LogisticsLogistics Today, Supply Chain Technology News, and Business Finance. In addition, he serves as senior content director of the annual Safety Leadership Conference. With over 30 years of B2B media experience, Dave literally wrote the book on supply chain management, Supply Chain Management Best Practices (John Wiley & Sons, 2021), which has been translated into several languages and is currently in its third edition. He is a frequent speaker and moderator at major trade shows and conferences, and has won numerous awards for writing and editing. He is a voting member of the jury of the Logistics Hall of Fame, and is a graduate of Northern Illinois University.

Adrienne Selko, Senior Editor: In addition to her roles with EHS Today and the Safety Leadership Conference, Adrienne is also a senior editor at IndustryWeek and has written about many topics, with her current focus on workforce development strategies. She is also a senior editor at Material Handling & Logistics. Previously she was in corporate communications at a medical manufacturing company as well as a large regional bank. She is the author of Do I Have to Wear Garlic Around My Neck?, which made the Cleveland Plain Dealer's best sellers list.

Nicole Stempak, Managing Editor:  Nicole Stempak is managing editor of EHS Today and conference content manager of the Safety Leadership Conference.

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