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Renovation Work Leads to Fines for Lead Exposure, Fall Hazards

By Roy Maurer  4/1/2014
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The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) on March 24, 2014, fined two companies restoring a historic building in Lima, Ohio, for exposing workers to dangerous levels of lead and serious fall hazards.

Durable Slate faces $119,000 in proposed penalties, and Spectrum Painting faces $49,600 in proposed penalties for exposing workers to hazards while doing work at the MacDonell House, part of a museum complex in Lima.

The companies were inspected by OSHA in September 2013 after being notified by a health care provider that high levels of lead were found in blood samples from employees of both companies. The workers were removing lead-based paint from the exterior of the Victorian-era home.

“Repair, renovation and demolition operations often generate dangerous airborne concentrations of lead, a metal that can cause damage to the nervous system, kidneys, blood-forming organs, and reproductive system if inhaled or ingested in dangerous quantities,” OSHA said.

Employers of construction workers engaged in this type of work are responsible for the development and implementation of a worker protection program, according to OSHA regulations.

Durable Slate was cited for one willful violation, issued for failing to conduct initial exposure monitoring to determine if employees were exposed to lead above the permissible level when scraping paint. The company was also issued serious violations for failure to:

  • Ensure workers wore protective clothing.
  • Train workers on lead hazards.
  • Provide changing areas and adequate hand-washing stations.
  • Implement a written lead compliance program.
  • Develop a respiratory protection program.
  • Provide fall protection for employees working at heights of 13 feet. OSHA standards require workers to use fall protection when working six feet or more above the next lower level.

Spectrum Painting was cited for two willful violations for failing to provide respiratory protection and personal protective clothing as interim protection before an initial lead exposure assessment was conducted. The company was cited for eight serious violations, including failing to:

  • Conduct initial medical surveillance.
  • Develop and implement a written lead compliance program.
  • Provide changing areas and adequate hand-washing stations.
  • Develop a written hazard communication program.
  • Provide fall protection.
  • Properly use ladders.

OSHA created a fall prevention Web page with information in English and Spanish illustrating various fall hazards and preventive measures.

Roy Maurer is an online editor/manager for SHRM.

Follow him @SHRMRoy

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