Contractor Failed to Provide Lead Contamination Protection

Trevor Sears Construction Co., Elmont, N.Y., has been cited by OSHA for violations of the agency's lead standard.

The action results from an inspection begun by OSHA on Oct. 28 at the Bayonne Bridge linking Bayonne, N.J., and Staten Island, N.Y., in response to an employee complaint that employees were experiencing high levels of lead in their blood due to improper removal of lead paint.

OSHA alleges that the company willfully violated its standards by not properly fit testing employees required to wear respirators, not providing protective clothing for employees to prevent lead contamination, not ensuring that employees exposed to excessive airborne lead dust took showers before going home, and not ensuring that employees removed contaminated clothing before eating and drinking.

Total proposed penalties for the four alleged willful and nine alleged serious violations are $128,000.

Patricia K. Clark, OSHA regional administrator said, "Abrasive blasting on steel structures previously painted with lead paint releases extremely high levels of airborne lead. This company's actions demonstrated that it was fully aware of several important requirements designed to reduce employee lead exposure and decided not to comply. The employer knowingly allowed its workers to be unnecessarily exposed to airborne lead and lead contamination."

Trevor Sears Construction was also cited for nine alleged serious violations including not adequately training employees on respiratory protection; not notifying employees of airborne lead exposure levels; not notifying employees of their lead blood test results and not ensuring that contaminated clothing was separated from street clothing.

"OSHA is committed to stringent enforcement in workplaces where employers willfully violate safety and health standards," said Clark. "OSHA will continue to take aggressive enforcement action in such cases so others are made aware that intentional disregard for employee health and safety cannot be tolerated."

The company has until May 10 to contest the citations.

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