OSHA Fines Employer for Failure to Safeguard Workers against Lead Hazards

July 16, 2003
A Franklin, N.H., foundry's failure to adequately protect workers against lead and other occupational health and safety hazards has resulted in a total of $49,560 in fines from OSHA.

Franklin Non-Ferrous Foundry Inc. was cited for alleged willful, repeat and serious violations of the Occupational Safety and Health Act following inspections conducted between January and April of this year. According to David May, OSHA's New Hampshire area director, the bulk of the violations concern inadequate safeguards for workers exposed to airborne concentrations of lead.

"Lead is a systemic poison and continued overexposure can damage the blood-forming, nervous, urinary and reproductive systems," said May. "That's why it's imperative that employers follow the health standards designed to reduce exposure levels and minimize hazards. Unfortunately, that was not the case here."

The company was cited for two alleged willful violations, with $28,000 in fines, for failing to monitor airborne lead levels when required and for allowing an employee who had been medically removed from a work area due to lead overexposure to return to the same job before he received the required medical clearance. Four citations for alleged repeat violations, with $14,000 in fines, were issued for exposing employees to excess airborne lead levels and failing to institute controls to reduce the exposure levels, not conducting periodic lead monitoring, allowing lead dust to accumulate on surfaces, and not providing an annual medical exam for a lead-exposed employee.

A total of 13 alleged serious violations were also cited, with $7,560 in fines, for lack of respiratory protection, not using a HEPA vacuum to remove lead dust from work clothing, not conducting annual audiograms for employees exposed to excess noise levels, unmarked exits, lack of eye protection, no procedures and training for workers in "lockout/tagout" measures to avoid energizing machinery under repair or maintenance, lack of machine guarding, and electrical hazards.

Franklin Non-Ferrous Foundry has 15 business days from receipt of its citations and proposed penalties to elect to comply with them, to request and participate in an informal conference with the OSHA area director, or to contest them before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

About the Author

Sandy Smith

Sandy Smith is the former content director of EHS Today, and is currently the EHSQ content & community lead at Intelex Technologies Inc. She has written about occupational safety and health and environmental issues since 1990.

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